Sword and Verse // ARC Review + Giveaway


Sword and Verse by Kathy MacMillan, Published by HarperTeen, ARC received from the publisher through Red Ballon’s Teen Book Club (and Subtext Bookstore!) in exchange for an honest 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.

Sword and Verse is a slowly-paced fantasy novel that resolves into an amazing story.

I do not normally think of a slowly paced book as a good thing. However, in the case of Sword and Verse, slow pacing really worked. This book did a great job of easing the reader into its world by revealing all of the details bit by bit, so that the information never felt overwhelming. The slow pace also allowed for a story that spanned years of time but never felt too long.

Plus, while there wasn’t a ton of action on each page, I still wanted to keep reading. The plot was strong, and I was always wondering what might happen next.

swordandversepgOne of the most important parts of this story was the tenuous relationship between those who were slaves, those who were nobility, and the tutors, who were something in between. I think that whole situation, and all the feelings and confusions that came along side it, was written VERY well. As a reader I could sympathize with both the slave characters and the members of the privileged class, which I think is a good thing in this sort of story.

I also really enjoyed all of the mythology and the details of the writing and language in Sword and Verse’s world. It was all very interesting and different and great.

One thing that I didn’t love in Sword and Verse was (surprise, surprise) the romance. I didn’t dislike it, but it didn’t grip me the way I would have wanted it to. The whole falling in love part also felt a little bit rushed, due to quick progressions through long lengths of time. I would have liked to see a little more of the early stages of the characters’ romance, or something like that.

Sword and Verse is a very interesting and elaborate fantasy that I highly recommend to fans of The Winner’s Trilogy and high fantasy in general!


This book will be published on January 19th, but if you can’t wait that long I currently have a twitter giveaway going on for an ARC! Plus, the lovely Kathy MacMillan has offered to send a signed and personalized bookplate to the winner! (Unfortunately, the giveaway is US only. 😟 Sorry!)