December 18, 2015

eARC Review of Sword and Verse by Kathy McMillan

 Release Date: January 19, 2016
Publisher: HarperTeen
Page Count: 384
Format: eARC
Genre: YA/Fantasy
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.
*an e-ARC of this book was given to us by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for a fair and honest review*

From the moment I saw Sword and Verse's beautiful cover and intriguing description I had a feeling that it would be a fantasy book to remember. While it wasn't on the same level as the TOG books (very few books are) it still turned out to be a spectacular book that was chock full of amazing writing and storytelling.

When it comes to fantasy books I tend to judge their world-building on a separate scale from other books, since good world-building is what makes a fantasy book what it is. Usually the author has to set up a completely new world, without any help from existing locations, and if they can't pull it off then chances are the book will fail. Sword and Verse took on this aspect of the storytelling with full vigor and delivered a world that is simply amazing, from the descriptions themselves to the way it played into the plot. From the capital city of Qilara to the tombs of past kings, and glimpses at the islands that Raisa came from, everything was extremely well-written and full of life.

Even the cover of Sword and Verse, while not part of the settings or world-building was still beautiful. Despite the well-known quote of "Don't judge a book by it's cover", covers are still the first thing I look at in new books. Sword and Verse definitely delivered a top-notch cover and this might even be one of the top 10 covers I've seen in 2016 releases. A fantasy novel must have spectacular and energetic settings and Sword and Verse 100% meets these requirements.

Characters are just as important, if not even more so than world-building, in any kind of book, not just fantasy ones. Kathy MacMillan does not disappoint in this portion of her book either, with lifelike, believable characters. Everyone, from Raisa and Mati to the Scholars and Arnathim slaves, is engaging and makes you want to keep reading to find out what happens next. Raisa herself was my favorite character in Sword and Verse, she's gone through so much in her fairly short life. From losing her family and home to becoming a slave in Qilara, she's had to stay strong and keep going no matter what happened. While she does show some hesitation with helping her people, once she responds to her calling she does everything in her power to free them. Since the book is in Raisa's POV we don't get to see much of Mati's thinking process but he too was a character that pulled you into the pages of Sword and Verse. While I had hoped for some more info on The Learned Ones and the island that Raisa was stolen from, I was still not disappointed.

Sword and Verse was another attempt at sating my thirst for more, and more fantasy books. It did just that; everything from the world within its pages to the lifelike characters were top-notch. While the ending wasn't exactly a cliffhanger, I'm itching to get more from the world of Sword and Verse. I hope that the author doesn't leave us hanging, and delivers a sequel. Sword and Verse might be a good choice for people who enjoy fantasy books like Throne of Glass or The Kiss of Deception.

4.5/5 - Amazing book

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