Sword and Verse by Kathy MacMillan
Genre: YA High Fantasy, Romance
Publication: January 19th 2016 by HarperTeen
Length: 378 pages
Source: ARC from publisher
Raisa was just a child when she was sold to work as a slave in the kingdom of Qilara. Despite her young age, her father was teaching her to read and write, grooming her to take his place as a Learned One. In Qilara, the Arnathim, like Raisa, are the lowest class, and literacy is a capital offense. What’s more, only the king, prince, tutor, and tutor-in-training are allowed to learn the very highest order language, the language of the gods. So when the tutor-in-training is executed for teaching slaves this sacred language, and Raisa is selected to replace her, Raisa knows any slipup on her part could mean death.
Keeping her secret is hard enough, but the romance that’s been growing between her and Prince Mati isn’t helping matters. Then Raisa is approached by the Resistance—an underground army of slave rebels—to help liberate Arnath slaves. She wants to free her people, but that would mean aiding a war against Mati. As Raisa struggles with what to do, she discovers a secret that the Qilarites have been hiding for centuries—one that, if uncovered, could bring the kingdom to its knees.
Thank you to HarperCollins and Epic Reads for providing me with this book in exchange for an honest review.
Before I start my review, I just want to talk about how beautiful the cover is. Look at that color gradient. And that font? So pretty. Kudos to the cover designer!
SWORD AND VERSE was an incredible and exciting read that I wholly enjoyed. I personally love high-fantasy novels, so this was something I was looking forward to.
Raisa is a slave who gets more privileges than other Arnathian (which is basically an oppressed group of people) slaves get because she knows how to read and write. She’s sneaking around with Mati, which is obviously forbidden, and Arnathian people are being killed and oppressed. She gets an opportunity to help the rebellion, but she’s conflicted between staying loyal to Mati and helping her people with Jonis, the rebellion leader.
What made this book interesting was the incorporation of religious aspects, but not so much that I felt overwhelmed with the amount of facts. I also loved the chemistry between Mati and Raisa (can you say OTP?); they had such a great bond, even though Raisa did some things that I would have considered not forgiving if I was in Mati’s shoes.
Despite Mati and Raisa’s awesome relationship, there were some instances where I just wanted to knock some sense into Raisa. She gave the impression of being incredibly unintelligent, which caused her to get her, Mati, and others in big trouble. I just wanted to sit down with her and
teach her some common sense give her some life advice. Although Raisa had some character flaws, which I suppose is normal in real-life situations (people make mistakes!), I felt as if she truly did care about the people she loved.
Overall, MacMillan entwines the power of language with romance and action into a greatly entertaining debut novel.