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Thursday, April 14, 2016

Sword and Verse by Kathy MacMillan

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Synopsis from Goodreads

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.

3.5 Star Review

This book was an enjoyable read but it wasn't quite what I was expecting. So, to help me sort out my thoughts, todays review is going to be in two lists!
Things I wasn't a fan of:
  • I was slightly disappointed with the lack of 'sword' action there was talk of death by swords but the main characters didn't see any of this action until the very end. There was a lot more 'verse' in this book, and I enjoyed read of Raisa desire to learn.
  • I defiantly have an issue with the blurb, firstly a lot of information is given in this blurb that I think would have been nice to work out as I read the book, secondly the blurb makes it sound like the rebellion is the main plot driver of the book, in my opinion it isn't the romance is the main focus of the book with the political tension a more secondary focus.
  • There were points in the book where Raisa quite annoyed me, she seemed a bit self centred - wrapped up in her own romance and it's issues.
  • The lack of truth and trust within the romance, if you love someone surely you should have slightly more trust in them?
What I enjoyed:
  • The 'pre-chapter' history/legends of the gods, it really helped to expand our knowledge of the world without having to read a long history lesson - it helped to break it up into manageable sections. (I am very thankful for the verse at the beginning of the book. Which tells what each god was in charge of, otherwise I would have been completely confused with my rubbish memory.) 
  • I enjoyed watching the relationship steadily grow though the years.
  • Raisa's friendship with the other slave Linti was cute and I would loved to have read more about her. However, I can understand why we don't get to, as Raisa is separated from her early in the book and she isn't able to keep in touch with her.
  • I like the world in which this story is set, with the idea of knowledge being a precious resource which is limited to royalty but also available occasionally 'on the black-market' (or at least that how I think of it).
  • This book surprised me - the main plot twist came completely out of the blue for me - I didn't see it 'going-down' like that, I can see the hints and signs earlier in the story now I look back.
Final Thoughts
This book has a nice slow growing romantic which is set in a protected corner of a kingdom dependent of it's slave markets. There is political tensions which take place mainly away from the main character but this protected corner has it's own issues which Raisa has to deal with. The main character is presented with difficult choices through out the book but it takes a long time for her to emerge from the love induce fog and get her head in the game. An enjoyable read, but made me glad I am fast reader and I am unlikely to re-read it.