Format: E-ARC | 384 pages
Release Date: January 19, 2016
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
Genre: Young Adult | 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 slip-up 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
"I never knew Tyasha Ke Demit, but her execution started everything..."
When Raisa was 6 years old, Slavers came to her island home of Nath Tarn, and destroyed everything and everyone she loved. Lucky for Raisa, nobody knew her real identity, which is one of her saving graces. The other is that she listened to her mother and ran away. Forced into Slavery, and taken to Qilara, Raisa is chosen by the oracle to be the next tutor-in-training for the royals. A position that allows her to learn how to read and write and one day become the teacher for the next King's offspring. It also puts her on the path to understanding her heart-verse that was given to her from her Learned One father.
Along the way, Raisa's feelings for Crown Prince Mati grow to the point where it is hardly a shock or surprise that the two fall in love. Not nearly as secret as the couple would have liked since almost everyone around them knew what was happening. Told in the first person narrative, Raisa's journey takes her from when she is 14, right up until she turns 18 and is ready to become a teacher to yet another oracle chosen one. Her journey is anything but easy. Her romance with Mati becomes complicated when he is expected to marry and have his own offspring. Forced to watch the man she loves with someone else, Raisa's world is no longer clear on what she is supposed to do.
Raisa's life becomes even more interesting and dangerous when the resistance approaches her and asks her to help them save the Arnath children who are suffering under slavery and can be tortured or killed without any penalties. You have to give Raisa credit for her strength and her determination. She could have teeter tottered without making any decisions at all. She could have stayed safe and comfortable in her setting without getting her hands dirty or bloodied. The story's bottom line is all about language, writing, and symbols that separate the Arnath and Qilaran. Because Raisa knows how to read and write and understand symbols that others don't, she becomes a valuable asset to not only the Resistance, but Mati as well. Raisa has to hide the fact that she is the daughter of a Learned One, or face immediate execution.
I am satisfied with the romance, even though it had plenty of ups and downs to make even the most patient reader grumble. Early on SWORD AND VERSE, each character has moved close to saying that they have feelings for the other. I liked that MacMillan stayed away from the dreaded love triangle, and instantaneous love connections that are rapidly becoming boring. The pacing of SWORD AND VERSE could have been a bit better. I was actually wondering it I was going to be able to finish this or not, and worried that my streak of not finishing a book in over the past 6 years, would finally come to an end. That, of course, remains intact. SWORD AND VERSE is apparently the first in a series, but it reads as though it is a standalone. Lots of plot lines are plugged, so, I am not actually sure where the author will go with the sequel. Guess we shall see.
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