Sword and Verse

Sword and Verse

by Kathy MacMillan


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In a sweeping fantasy that award-winning author Franny Billingsley calls "fascinating and unique," debut author Kathy MacMillan weaves palace intrigue and epic world-building to craft a tale for fans of Rae Carson and Megan Whalen Turner.

Raisa was just a child when she was sold into slavery in the kingdom of Qilara. Before she was taken away, her father had been adamant that she learn to read and write. But where she now lives, literacy is a capital offense for all but the nobility. The written language is closely protected, and only the King, Prince, Tutor, and Tutor-in-training are allowed to learn its very highest form.

So when she is plucked from her menial labor and selected to replace the last Tutor-in-training who was executed, Raisa knows that betraying any hint of her past could mean death.

Keeping her secret guarded is hard enough, but the romance that's been blossoming between her and Prince Mati isn't helping matters. Then Raisa is approached by the Resistance—an underground rebel army—to help liberate the city's 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062324627
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 09/04/2018
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 742,972
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range: 14 Years

About the Author

Kathy MacMillan has been a librarian, American Sign Language interpreter, children’s performer, teacher, storyteller, and writer. Her previous work includes educator- and parent-resource books about promoting literacy through signing with all children. Sword and Verse and its sequel, Dagger and Coin, were inspired by her research into ancient libraries and her interest in exploring the power of language. Kathy lives near Baltimore, Maryland. To learn more about Kathy, visit www.kathymacmillan.com.

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Sword and Verse 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
KendraJ_lillianopal More than 1 year ago
2.5 stars. I was quite disappointed with this...I was expecting a fantasy with political intrigue, fascinating word power, and romance that would sweep me away. But that absolutely did not happen. Sigh. First, I was unbelievably bored. You'd think that with all this political tension going on, I'd want to know what happens next. And okay, yes, there was some part of me that did care to know (and that was the part that made me finish the book), but it was more out of my own trifling curiosity and a hope that the book would become more engaging, rather than the events' ability to excite me. I think it was the tone that made me feel this way. The tone was jarringly modern, which was an awkward fit into the fantastical and mythical world the author created. This infuriating modern-ness and simplicity was probably the cause for my boredom. Another thing I disliked was the plot being so generic. Even though the made-up mythology was pretty creative, the overall plot seemed like the epitome of the typical fantasy story you'd immediately think of when you're trying to conjure one in your mind. Lowborn girl is inducted into a higher class, and she has a wonderful romance with the great prince of the land. Some problems arise, people don't like her, she's thrust into a couple betrayals, blah blah blah, but suddenly she discovers something, and using it, everyone lives happily ever after. The embellishment and extra twisty events that make a story not an average one was absent. This ordinary plotline was also another reason for me finding this book boring. One good aspect of this book was the characters. Raisa was a strong heroine, and she put her best effort into everything she was willing to do. I think Mati was supposed to be shown as kind and strong, and even though his character fell a bit flat at times, I still appreciated his presence. Also, Laiyonea was an interesting person, as well as Jonis, Kiti, and Soraya. I'm glad that the characters weren't too bad. However, I would still not recommend this novel. I personally think it wouldn't be worth your time, what with it lacking a unique plotline and all. Although, if you're someone who isn't bothered by modern tones and doesn't mind a very ordinary storyline, you may enjoy it more than I did.
MsVerbose More than 1 year ago
You know those books you hang on to, and set by the side of your bed and keep it there, not reading it yet, because you know it will be so wonderful and you just can't face the idea that it will end, and you won't have that chance to read it again for the first time? This is one of those books. I held off as long as I could, and then I devoured it. DE. VOURED. I love the symbolism of the asoti birds. I love Raisa and her conflicting emotions. I love that the choice to be the heroin is not simple and automatic. I love Prince Mati and his gentle goodness. His fear of his father and fear of making a mistake as King. The world is so real, and so fleshed out. I could believe that this was our history, and our story of how we gained our freedom. And I could feel the heat and smell the ocean. This book was so well done, and I feel so satisfied with the story, having read it, and so disappointed that I will never again read this book for the first time.
Brooks_Benjamin More than 1 year ago
I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. It's no small thing to write a book set in a completely made-up world. Finding ways to make it accessible to readers while also giving it that unique edge is incredibly tough. And when the book features a complete language and theology, it becomes even harder. Yet, somehow, Kathy MacMillan pulls it off with so much ease and grace that there were more than a few times when I swore I must have slept through an entire unit of World History in middle school. Because the kingdom in which Raisa lives reads so authentic that I just knew it had to exist. Kathy builds the world inside Sword and Verse so honestly and effortlessly. Throughout the story, we're given glimpses into the history of Qilara both within the chapter and from the excerpts which begin them. The best part is how the history isn't there for history's sake--it plays a profound role in Raisa's story. Sometimes it acts as a guide into the past while other times it hints at a foreshadow. And it's so tightly woven into the present that you'll find these nuanced whispers of it embedded into the characters' body language or speech. It gives the story so many layers and so much volume that reading it becomes such a treat. I honestly cannot wait for book two. Book one blew me away. I have a feeling that Sword and Verse is going to etch itself into the hearts of so many fans and eventually find itself being lauded as a pillar of incredible storytelling among the other classic fantasy series.
BailsChris More than 1 year ago
I was fascinated by the topic of the novel, that writing and words have power. It has a foundation in history, where those who were viewed as lower status people were refused the right to learn to read and write, while those with wealth excelled in these areas. I think the power of words can often be discounted in unusual ways, mostly because now writing and reading has become more common place in various cultures. This book calls to mind the past and shows the potential impact of not being forced to never learn how to read and write. It can cause revolutions and that is what happens in this novel. Raisa has a great deal of promise as a main character. She is a slave, but she remembers a life beyond being tied to the service of a King that doesn’t know her and doesn’t care about her existence. She cares for one of the other slave girls. She becomes a Tutor-in-training and she begins to learn the language that she has been forbidden to even look at since she began to work at the palace. I found it interesting that there was a slave that learned the language of the Kings, mainly because it was so sacred to those in power. I would have thought that they would have kept the language within the affluent individuals, but I liked that the author chose a slave to be the center of something so rare. But she does make frustrating decisions. When she has the opportunity to become a hero in the beginning of the novel, she refuses the call. This falls into the idea of the hero’s journey; however, she doesn’t resurface from her idealized existence until much later in the novel, when she finally becomes a hero in some ways. In some ways, it feels like it is a moment too late and even the book seems to portray it that way. Another issue is the love between Prince Mati and Raisa. A lot of people feel that it is an insta-love situation, which is typical with romance novels and very overused in novels lately. However, it is important to note that the reason why it may feel like insta-love is the fact that the crush stage of the novel is blurred and the period before the crush is not highlighted within the novel. The romance is a focal point and it can be slightly frustrating because it gets in the way of Raisa becoming a heroic figure. Overall the story was interesting and I liked the idea of words having power a lot more than I anticipated. That interest drove me through the novel, but certain aspects can be off putting.
SAlexander More than 1 year ago
This book has almost rendered me speechless. I loved everything about it. I’m in absolute awe of MacMillan for creating not only a stunning story, but also an intricate, believable world, intriguing and complex characters, and prose that just swept me away. Raisa and Mati are two young people doing everything they can for their people, but also each other – and it’s tough. The kingdom of Qilara is not an easy place to live, especially if you are Arnathim. It’s a story about power – the power of language, the power of authority, power of the Gods, the power of love, the power of fear, the power of courage, the power of trust. With high stakes, secrets, a gorgeous romance and badass heroine (mentally as well as physically), I highly recommend this book. I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was utterly charmed by this book and in awe of the author and the entire language and world she created. Really, this captivating tale of slave girl Raisa has many parallels to the Star Wars sagas. Plucked to be the next Tutor-in-training? What if someone discovers her past? A forbidden romance? Political machinations? Check, check, check. MacMillan has built an altogether intriguing world with a plucky heroine who's got smarts and charm to spare.
Brooke-The-Cover-Contessa More than 1 year ago
I want to thank Harper Teen for providing me with a copy of this book to read and give an honest review. Receiving this book for free has in no way altered my opinion or review. I will say that when I first saw this title on Edelweiss and read the synopsis, I wasn't really all that interested. But then I saw it popping up on my newsfeed through my bookish friends. And everything they were saying was great. So I went back and read the blurb again. And I decided it intrigued me and I wanted to see what all the hype was about. I've been more and more turning to fantasy novels lately. Turns out, the hype was all it was about for me. Unfortunately, this book just didn't hit the mark. What to say about Raisa, the main character. I didn't connect with her is my first thought. When we meet her she's quite young, though she doesn't seem so from how she is portrayed. In just a few chapters she quickly ages, but I don't see her change much with her experience. I see the same girl I saw on the very first few pages. She's naive for sure, and easily swayed. Especially by the handsome prince who woos her almost immediately. And then the book takes off into this romance that's not even a whirlwind. It's just kind of there all of a sudden and you're wondering where it came from. And Mati, I didn't understand his attraction to Raisa at all. He barely knows her, yet he's so in love with her. I didn't get an idea of what his personality was like. I didn't see how he could want to be with her. I also didn't see him grow as a character. He's set to become the king of all this land but he barely trains for it. And then he's off to this political summit and that political summit, yet we never see what he gets out of them. He's flat and uninteresting and I just did not see what Raisa saw in him besides his title. Then there's the plot. Who wouldn't want to read about a world where reading was pretty much banned for anyone except those who are part of the royalty. I thought it would be fascinating to find out how this Kingdom came to be. But I still have no idea, to be honest. Where was the world building? Fantasy heavily relies on the author building a world that is believable despite the fact that it could never possibly be real. But I didn't get that at all in this book. I wasn't sure what type of land it was, though it struck me that it was desert like, so maybe something based of the Middle East? And then there's the fact that the entire book revolves around the romance. I thought for sure Raisa would be the voice of her people. But really, she's just this love sick girl who can't think of anything else but her price. And there's no build up to their relationship. Where's the tension and the swooning that is supposed to happen with these types of books? It just wasn't there. Faster than a blink of an eye, they are together and doing things I certainly would want them to wait on since they barely know each other. There was no thrill of the chase. Finally at 88% there was some action that moved the book along. Before that time I will say it was a struggle for me feel invested in the book. There was nothing to move the plot along. And I pushed myself to finish it because I thought for sure it would pick up. and it did but much too late for my taste. Overall this book was just too boring for me. It lacked any of the enchantment I was hoping for from a fantasy adventure. I have no idea what the world is really like, nor do I know why it came into existenc
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was lucky enough to read an early version of this book and if you like YA high fantasy in the veins of Rae Carson, then you will LOVE this book. Raisa is raised as a slave in the palace, one of only two who are taught the language of the gods--writing--in order to tutor the prince and council him when he one day becomes king. But Raisa doesn't plan for falling in love with him, nor that he would return her love. Or that the slave resistance will pressure her to help them, even as it threatens the life and safety of both herself and the prince. When it all comes to a head, it seems only the gods will be able to save everyone. This story is filled with romance and wonderful, deeply realized characters. Raisa is sympathetic and believable, and Mati is swoon-worthy and kind, which I particularly love, since I'm kind of over the bad boy romance thing. The language and religion is fully developed and it's clear MacMillan spent a lot of time and energy getting it just right. And the ending explodes with action and drama and tension and moments that literally made me gasp in surprise. Which is really the best thing I can ever hope for when reading a book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a rich, lush, interesting epic fantasy, set in a world of gods and nations and shifting powers, where language is sacred and reading is a forbidden act. Raisa is a fantastic heroine. She's strong in subtle ways, and she grows and changes over the course of the story, not just as she falls in love, but as she begins to challenge the boundaries of her position and her world, and has to weigh her own personal desires for love and safety and loyalty against forces at work in the rest of the kingdom. There are rebels and conspiracies and gods and kings and everything that makes epic fantasy great. I am looking forward to reading it again, and looking forward even more to the sequel!
Alyssa75 More than 1 year ago
***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog*** Sword and Verse by Kathy MacMillan Publisher: Harper Teen Publication Date: January 19, 2016 Rating: 5 stars Source: eARC from Edelweiss Summary (from Goodreads): 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. What I Liked: Sword and Verse was one of those books that I knew I would enjoy, upon reading only the synopsis. I remember seeing the title, and then the synopsis, and then the cover... I remember discovering that the author was a fellow Baltimorean, which is REALLY exciting. Of all of Harper's 2016 Winter and Spring debuts, Sword and Verse was the one I wanted to read the most. You probably already saw my top five reasons why I think you should read this book, but this will be a more in-depth and coherent log of my thoughts on the book - which was superb! Note: I will not do this book justice, with this review. I couldn't do it with my Top Five Reasons post (which you should check out, it's slightly more condensed), and I know I can't do it here. There are some books that are that great that I just want to say, "TRUST ME AND READ IT!" and be done with the review. Still, I hope I can write a nice review (and not spoil things). As a child, Raisa was chosen to be the next tutor, and so she began to learn to read and write alongside the crown prince of Qilara, Mati. Years later, Raisa's feelings for Mati have grown, and she has also become a very accomplished Tutor, mastering the language and symbols with ease. Raisa and Mati know they shouldn't feel anything towards each other... but they do. When war breaks out against Qilara, Raisa will help the Resistance or stay loyal to Qilara - there is no easy way out of her past, present, or future. This book is written from Raisa's POV, and it starts in the past, when Raisa is small. She wasn't always a distinguished tutor-in-training - she used to be a slave in the kingdom. As an Arnath child, she never felt welcome in Qilara anyway. Raisa is a different heroine from what we typically see in YA fantasy these days. She isn't bent on saving the world, or wielding swords, or defying royalty. She's loyal to Mati, and she doesn't forget her people, but she doesn't want to necessarily help the Resistance when it could mean hurting Mati (indirectly). Read the rest of my review on my blog, The Eater of Books! - eaterofbooks DOT blogspot DOT com :)