Author: Kathy MacMillan
Genre: Young Adult // Fantasy // Romance
Publication Date: January 19, 2016
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 (goodreads).
If you've been looking for a high fantasy to start the year off right with, look no further!
Plot: I prefer my fantasy novels to be slower paced: I like to lose myself in the world and mythology without having information crammed down my throat. Sword and Verse meets my every fantasy-related desire with conflict, forbidden romance, betrayal, and mythology, all conveniently packaged in 394 pages.
I know it doesn't look like much, but Sword and Verse spans over a two year period and I adored seeing the subtle changes in character demeanor and the political strain on the world. If man-made conflict isn't enough for you, the author also highlights the relationships of the gods who rule over the human realm. Kathy MacMillan begins each chapter with a paragraph or two getting into the history of the gods, and boy do they follow "do as I say, not as I do" mantra. Messes, all of them.
Character: Sword and Verse is told from Raisa's point of view and I believe that MacMillan captured her voice perfectly. She was wary but naive; she was selfish, but giving. I was able to easily put myself in her shoes and stressed over the choices she made. Our leading man is oh so swoon worthy and their love story distracted me from being productive all day. While reading, I couldn't help but think of The Winner's Curse, as we have two characters from different classes and different responsibilities towards their own class.
World Building: From the gods to the islands, Kathy MacMillan's pen breathed nothing but vibrant life into this world. The amount of detail that she puts into the language and writing system made a language geek like me squeal in delight.
Short N Sweet: From the world to the characters, Sword and Verse is the perfect read for all high-fantasy lovers!