Sword And Verse by Kathy MacMillan | Book Review

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Sword And Verse by Kathy MacMillan | Book ReviewSword and Verse by Kathy MacMillan
Series: Sword And Verse #1
Published by HarperCollins on January 19th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy & Magic, Love & Romance, Royalty
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon

In a sweeping fantasy that award-winning author Franny Billingsley called "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.

Sword And Verse by Kathy MacMillan is a book that I got in the mail that immediately grabbed my attention, because you all should know how I feel about a cover with a giant sword on it. If you are new here, I will tell you that I get super excited for books with swords. As I reader, I live and die by the sword. Yet, I am that sort of person who when a book comes in the mail that I am excited about, I wait until FOREVER to read that book. I am actively trying to change that this year and get to those much anticipated books WAY sooner. Thankfully, a review from Alyssa at Eater of Books is what gave me the push I needed to start Sword And Verse sooner rather than later.

Sword And Verse is about a girl named Raisa. Raisa is a slave in her kingdom — she works polishing the library alongside other youths. However, she one day becomes too old to do this and seeing as how the Tutor is about to be executed, Raisa is one of the girls who tries out for the part of the next Tutor. You see, in this kingdom, the only people who are allowed to read and write the high language, the language of the gods are the King and the Prince as well as the tutors.

Furthermore, aside from the two slave tutors (the current Tutor and the Tutor in training), none of the slaves are allowed any literacy at all. So, anyways, Raisa begins to learn how to read and write the language of the gods in preparation for her future position. Also, to learn her heartverse. She does not anticipate falling in love with Prince Mati and him returning those feelings. To make matters more complicated, Raisa has been approached by the slave rebellion for help in a revolt and attaining the freedom of all their people.

Raisa is interesting in that she makes missteps. You all know I am not really a fan of characters that come across as perfect. To me, that is super boring and I am just not about that life while I read. I liked that she wasn’t immediately ready to lead the revolt and help her people to the mountain top. Instead, she’s really weighing it and wants to take the longer view – where she convinces Mati to give everyone their freedom when he is king. I also loved how hard she works to learn to write and how important it is to her. She also still is kind to others, even when she has an elevated position compared to before. Sword And Verse has a main character that I did not find irritating in the least – even those moments where simple communication would have helped her.

Mati, Raisa’s love interest, is okay. I mean, I felt like their romance and the feelings between them was rushed. It just did not read as true. I mean, I like it when I read a book and the romance is something that develops over time and we can actually feel the heat between the characters in the pages. I like it when there is palpable chemistry. I did not entirely feel that with Sword And Verse. Instead, I felt like Mati was ineffectual and a bit boring. To be honest, Raisa could do better. This is definitely not the book that will launch a thousand ships to be sure. However, there is no love triangle, so props to that.

MacMillan’s world building was well done, I thought. I liked that she goes into religion quite a bit in this book and how it is a driving force for why one nationality of people in the book treats the other nationality. I also liked that each chapter began with an italicized epigraph that tells the story of the gods and intertwines eventually with Raisa’s story. I thought this all wove together in Sword And Verse quite well. I also enjoyed all the political bits as well. I am quite the sucker for politics and religion in books – especially fictionalized versions.

Sword And Verse by Kathy MacMillan is the type of book I would recommend if you go in for strong world building but do not care a whole lot about the romance within a book. I think that if you detest love triangles, you’ll enjoy this book. In all, I read this book in a day and a half and found myself absorbed by it but also at other places in the book, distracted away from it by other things. It’s not that the book is uneven, but I do think that some parts were way more interesting than others.

Other reviews of Sword And Verse by Kathy MacMillan:

The Eater Of Books – “This stunning debut did not disappoint on any level!

Oh, The Books – “This had me hooked right away

Books Of Amber – “I’m incredibly disappointed by this book

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. Great review! I agree completely about the romance and I think that was my one criticism of the book. The book I am currently reading (Starflight by Melissa Landers) does a good job with developing a gradual romance between the main characters who initially hate each other and have to build trust and a friendship first. The author compared the book to the movie Overboard but set in space and I’d have to agree.

    I did love the worldbuilding and the mythology in Sword and Verse. I think readers who liked Rae Carson and books like The Winner’s Curse would like this one too. I also liked that it can be read like a standalone novel though there is a companion novel in the works.