January 19, 2016





Sword and Verse
by Kathy MacMillan   


In a sweeping fantasy that award-winning author Franny Billingsley called "fascinating and unique," debut author Kathy MacMillan weaves palace intrigue and epic world building to craft a tale for fans of Rae Carson and Megan Whalen Turner.

Raisa was just a child when she was sold into slavery in the kingdom of Qilara. Before she was taken away, her father had been adamant that she learn to read and write. But where she now lives, literacy is a capital offense for all but the nobility. The written language is closely protected, and only the King, Prince, Tutor, and Tutor-in-training are allowed to learn its very highest form. So when she is plucked from her menial labor and selected to replace the last Tutor-in-training, who was executed, Raisa knows that betraying any hint of her past could mean death.

Keeping her secret guarded is hard enough, but the romance that's been blossoming between her and Prince Mati isn't helping matters. Then Raisa is approached by the Resistance—an underground rebel army—to help liberate the city's 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.


"Marvelous worldbuilding"  By Ashia 2 years ago

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I picked up SWORD AND VERSE as it looks to be a fantasy dystopian romance that I love, but it didn't live up to my expectations. The writing was a little flat; it was hard to get excited about anything.

Raisa became a Tutor-in-training when the previous one was executed for helping the Resistance. In her world, slaves weren't allowed to read and write, and only the king and the prince and the Tutors were allowed to learn the higher-order writing, because this is used to communicate with the gods. I thought the worldbuilding was marvelous, and the concept was certainly different and refreshing from the other books in the genre.

That said, the characters were a bit bland. There was no buildup in the romance of Raisa and Prince Mati, and I'm still puzzled as to what each saw in the other to have these romantic feelings. Especially, I don't know what Mati saw in Raisa; I mean, as a prince, he has access to lots of girls. So what is it about Raisa? And so, when the conflict came in the form of Mati's betrothed, it was hard to care much because I'm not fully invested in the characters.

Overall, it's a great YA fantasy, certainly different and refreshing.