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Sword and Verse by Kathy MacMillan Book Review

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.

When I first finished this book, I gave it 4 stars on impulse. Now that I actually sit down to review it? I can keep seeing all the faults that I had glossed over because of the explosive ending.

By the summary alone, I was expecting to encounter a book dripping with conspiracies, treason, and heart-stopping action. Instead, I got a romance…. with people learning how to read and write, with more romance, and just a bit of “rebellion”.
I didn’t like Raisa, our heroine. She was passive throughout the whole book, when I was expecting her to actually want to do something, either for her people, the slaves, or the supposed “love of her life”, Mati. But she never did anything. She was more preoccupied on minding her own business than trying to make a change. When she does decide to do something, she doesn’t even do it for herself! She does it because “why not?”.

The romance here is definitely one of the worst parts of the book. Raisa and Mati are from different sides of the social ladder. Mati is next in line to be king, while Raisa is a tutor in training. Their romance is bland, and at times really annoying. There’s no development even when the book spans over two years. The romance goes like this: 1- they meet 2-the book jumps in time 3- Raisa is in love with Mati 4- a couple of pages later, Mati is in love with Raisa 5-Endless making out. There’s no tension between them as they slowly fall in love with each other, no gradual way they both realize they have feelings for each other.. nothing. Not to mention, they know their romance is forbidden, but they decide to ignore the responsibilities they BOTH have just because they’re “in love”. I gave up on the romance completely when Mati told Raisa he’s engaged (because, he’s to be king and must marry to strengthen ties between Kingdoms), and he tells her this:
“Come on, nothing has to change.” 
I gaped at him. How could he say that? I weighed my words carefully. “You’ll be expected to produce an heir.” 
“Yes,” he said, not seeming to realize why this bothered me. […] 
“Damn it, what do you want me to do?” he said. “Give up the throne and tend goats in the mountains? I’ve made plenty of sacrifices to be with you. What more do you want?” 

Yeah… Mati is super dreamy.

Also, the book’s pacing is terribly slow.
"Days in the Adytum fell into a dreamlike pattern: we talked, we kissed, occasionally we even did our work.” 

That’s what most of the book felt like ^. Nothing seems to be happening for the first 40% of the book, and only then it starts to pick up because the focus on the romance is diminished. However, I never got into the story much, until the ending. By the end, Raisa finally gets some backbone (at least a bit), and the plot seems to hurry along what it took so terribly long to accomplish. The Resistance and the Kingdom’s inevitable war finally comes to, and we’re seeing action. The secondary plot, which was short stories at the beginning of each chapter describing the stories of the gods, comes to a wonderful climax that I wasn’t expecting. The ending of the book itself resolved everything in a clean, no loose strings, sort of way, which I liked.

Overall, this book promised to be an epic fantasy with a bold main character, and secrets and conspiracies along every corner. However it ended up falling flat with a lackluster romance, slow pace, and unlikable main character. I’d pass on this one if I were you.
-Marianne :) 


  1. Ah, shame this one let you down. Still, I do plan on giving it a chance because, despite what people are saying about the romance, there are elements that do appeal to me. Lovely review!

  2. I've seen so many less that stellar ratings for this I really do think that I will pass. I'm not sure the explosive ending will make up for all the other things it had wrong. I'm glad that it did end strongly though, that is something. ;)

  3. I totally agree, the book felt flat for me too, couldn't the author split it across the series instead of cramming it all in one book....... the characters could have had a bit more room to flourish that way.

    Great Review :)
    Aparajita @Le' Grande Codex

  4. Darn, I had high hopes for this one. I don't like the sound of either of main characters, which is a shame because a 'heavy on the romance fantasy novel' could have been right up my alley. :-(

  5. this has not been getting a warm reception over all. needless to say, it's probably not going to grace my shelves.

  6. There was too much romance for my taste and a bad one at that.. I just really wanted more magic, action and character development. So disappointed :(


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