Tuesday, February 9, 2016

REVIEW: SWORD AND VERSE BY KATHY MACMILLAN.

Title: Sword and Verse
Author: Kathy MacMillan
Series: Standalone
Edition: Paperback
Publication: January 19, 2016 by HarperTeen
Source: ARC provided by the publisher
Pages: 384
Genre: Young Adult, High-Fantasy, Mythology, Romance
Trailer: not available.

Synopsis:

Raisa was only a child when she was kidnapped and enslaved in Qilara. Forced to serve in the palace of the King, she’s endured hunger, abuse, and the harrowing fear of discovery. Everyone knows that Raisa is Arnath, but not that she is a Learned One, a part of an Arnath group educated in higher order symbols. In Qilara, this language is so fiercely protected that only the King, the Prince, and Tutors are allowed to know it. So when the current Tutor-in-training is executed for sharing the guarded language with slaves and Raisa is chosen to replace her, Raisa knows that, although she may have a privileged position among slaves, any slipup could mean death.

That would be challenging enough, but training alongside Prince Mati could be her real undoing. And when a romance blossoms between them, she’s suddenly filled with a dangerous hope for something she never before thought possible: more. Then she’s approached by the Resistance—an underground army of slaves—to help liberate the Arnath people. Joining the Resistance could mean freeing her people…but she’d also be aiding in the war against her beloved, an honorable man she knows wants to help the slaves.

Working against the one she loves—and a palace full of deadly political renegades—has some heady consequences. As Raisa struggles with what’s right, she unwittingly uncovers a secret that the Qilarites have long since buried…one that, unlocked, could bring the current world order to its knees.

And Raisa is the one holding the key.

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This story started with an execution. Such a rough start but it is I believe, one good pickup point. There is this old yet still growing rivalry between Qilarites and Arnath and I just got hooked by the political issues and so much history there is. I wasn't expecting so much from the world building since I've seen and read a lot of fantasies in this life and even though there is nothing too special about how the entire kingdom looks like, I fell in love with the people. How Qilarites are distinguished as masters and how low the Arnaths are represented. Aside from looks, their bloodlines has something to do with their status and that added to the fiery intrigue building up in my chest. There has to be something more than physical appearance. And then the gods were mentioned.

We have Raisa here, an Arnathim from Nath Tarin, born from the Learned Ones' bloodline. She's our heroine - self-doubting heroine if I may add - who practically wavers easily no matter how strong her foundation with someone or something is. I like how her curiosity didn't get the best of her. There are moments she points out that she has to prove herself to the entire kingdom which is kind of annoying, really. There were also little stupid moments thrown in between and I just went and scratched my head but those made her imperfect and I adored it. My favorite about her is she didn't give up deciphering her heart-verse despite the danger. She goes after what she wants and seldom gets side tracked until Mati. Mati is our charming prince. Raisa was selected as Tutor-in-Training so she could teach Mati's future child because only four people are allowed to write and read the letters of the gods. Their relationship blossomed during their lessons and from that point, the story kind of sloped down a bit because it focused heavily on the romance department for the longest part of the book. It wasn't boring, it wasn't a strong point of the book because as a high-fantasy fan, I was leaning toward the essential aspects of high-fantasy but don't get me wrong - I absolutely loved the romance part. It kept me at the edge of my seat. My heart kept pounding achingly for I was afraid they would eventually get caught. They faced a ton of problems, it isn't truly easy to fight for whatever you think is right. But her struggles with Mati didn't stop her for loving him, she didn't loathe him or didn't rebel against herself because I was expecting her to jump herself over to Jonis. But she's loyal and proven that up until the end. And spoiler alert (well, not really since the author wrote this on Goodreads): THERE IS NO THIRD WHEELING IN THIS ONE. HUZZAH!

What's amazing in this breath of fresh air for the high-fantasy genre is the incorporation of Ancient Writing, Mythology and GRAND Library of the Gods. The writing/language/symbols are so intricate you could feel their "power". And the library? A book lover's dream to have, indeed. I mean, I kept visualizing the Library of Alexandria from the description. I think it is the nearest comparison. I loved how huge it is in my imagination and the scrolls!! I couldn't stop wondering how they smell! I just hope there's a map on the finished copy. This book needs a glorious map and so I could point where the Library is!

I was considering those chapter prologues as a separate novel. It could stand on its own. I know that the chapter prologues support the story and honestly though, I wasn't expecting SOTIA like - WTAF (dunno if *THAT* revelation helped or something). It weirded me out because seriously? Mati just found a random stone at the beach which then happens to be a crucial part of THAT SOMETHING? Really? What are the odds? It kind of made me feel underwhelmed but I just ignored it. It was something that surprised me so I just believed that it could also serve as strength of this novel.

Thankfully, MacMillan said on Goodreads that this is a stand alone. I believe she is currently writing a companion novel. I wanted this selfishly to be a stand alone because one book is enough to swoon over MATI and JONIS OMGGGGG! Kidding aside, everything has been answered in this story and I am afraid that a sequel would just weaken it. I dunno. Maybe am wrong.

Sword and Verse is honest to goodness a refreshing addition to the high-fantasy genre. I cannot stop flying through the pages because I don't want to calm my nerves anymore. I want more of that rushing adrenaline, that gripping feeling and that teeth-gritting sensation. This novel is a balance of a young romance that rooted deep with the hunger to uncover ancients secrets and surpass the call of a crown.

Thank you, HarperCollins International for the ARC!

"I'd long ago learned that wanting things too much was a sure way to have them taken from you."
"What can you say when you've destroyed someone's life, but that someone won't hold you accountable for it?"

6 comments:

  1. This looks really good, I'm going to add it to my wish list!

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    1. There's a mix of reviews about this on Goodreads. But I loved it. Hope you would too, Suze!

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  2. I'm glad to see that you really liked this one! Most of the bloggers I follow have been giving this one a positive review. I may have to give it a read!
    Krystianna @ Downright Dystopian

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    1. Most of the reviews I saw were negative, I am also glad that I enjoyed this. Hope you would, too!

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  3. I've heard such amazing things about this book! I'm not a big fantasy reader, but this one looks to good to miss!
    Great review!

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    1. Thank you, Lis. I was surprised with this, actually! Didn't expect to love it!

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