Sword & Verse by Kathy MacMillan

Posted November 17, 2016 by lockhartbecca in Reviews / 4 Comments

Sword & Verse had a lot of potential, but the plot was a bit slow and the instalove definitely dampened my enjoyment. Still an interesting concept with writing, religion and mythology. - unboundpages.com

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I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. The review below is my open and honest opinion.


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.


My Thoughts on Sword & Verse:

I was really looking forward to this one when I first read the synopsis. So much so, that when I saw it on Edelweiss, I immediately jumped at the chance to read it. And of course, as per usual, it sat on my Kindle collecting virtual dust for months. I am so terrible about my egalleys. Does anyone else have this same problem? Please tell me I’m not alone.


But I hadn’t completely forgotten about it. And I knew once I got through my Harry Potter binge, I would start hitting my review books again. And Sword & Verse was at the top of my list.


I’ve been looking for a new fantasy series to gush over since I broke up with Sarah J. Maas. (Please don’t kill me internet. You can read my Queen of Shadows thoughts here.) But I’m sad to say this did not make the cut.


The Good

I liked the world and the religious aspects of Sword & Verse. I loved the emphasis on the gods and the story that was woven into the pages via the chapter headings. I loved how sacred words were. Reading and writing being reserved for the elite class and how much they treasure them was quite interesting. And I especially loved the struggle of the goddess and the commoners to share the power of words.

Sword & Verse had a lot of potential, but the plot was a bit slow and the instalove definitely dampened my enjoyment. Still an interesting concept with writing, religion and mythology. - unboundpages.com

I also really enjoyed the politics and structure of the world. I’ve always loved books filled with politics. It’s one of the reasons Red Rising became my favorite science fiction series. There were a lot of moving pieces in this story.

  • Prince Mati learning how to become a king
  • Evil council members who want to take over control
  • Greedy council members who want all the money
  • Arnath slaves who want their freedom
  • An Arnath tutor torn between her loyalty to her prince and her loyalty to her people


All of these pieces moved around the story like chess pieces until finally coming to their breaking point. It was engaging and interesting to read about and it definitely kept me hooked.

The Bad

But I also had some issues.


The romance being the biggest one. I understand that Mati and Raisa have known each other for years. But just because you tell me that doesn’t believe I buy into their five-second romance that we actually see on the pages. It felt like instalove to me and I wasn’t buying into it.


I liked Mati. And I liked Raisa. I just didn’t like that the book was so focused on the romance and that they were the be all and end all to each other. Blegh. Focus on the politics and the fighting. That’s the stuff I want.


Sometimes I feel like I’m outgrowing romance in books. What’s wrong with me???

Sword & Verse had a lot of potential, but the plot was a bit slow and the instalove definitely dampened my enjoyment. Still an interesting concept with writing, religion and mythology. - unboundpages.com

I also found the book to move a little slowly at times. I feel like there were periods where nothing was really happening. Well, aside from Mati and Raisa finding secret places to go make out. Because that’s what we should be focusing on during this intense struggle between slave and master. It took me a while to read this book because there was nothing driving me to pick it up again. It just wasn’t quite the intense fantasy I was looking for.


I think the real issue here is that I’ve read amazing fantasy series like Mistborn and Six of Crows and after reading all these epic fantasy novels, it’s hard to read one that’s a bit predictable. Sword & Verse wasn’t a bad book, but it just felt like a standard fantasy novel. There was nothing about it that stood out to me. If you don’t read a lot of fantasy, I think you’ll probably enjoy this book. But if fantasy is your go-to genre, I think you should probably skip it.


Have you read this one? What did you think? Did you find the romance to be instalovey and the plot to be a bit slow? 

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4 responses to “Sword & Verse by Kathy MacMillan

  1. I’ve had a lot of problems with fantasy this year, and it’s for similar reasons. If you don’t read a lot of fantasy you’ll like them but because I do, and because I’ve read really good fantasy, standard, cookie-cutter stories don’t cut it for me anymore. As with any genre, it depends on execution but I don’t think I’d have much luck with this book even though the world building sounds interesting! Great review though 🙂

    • lockhartbecca

      Yeah, now that I’ve read a lot of fantasy, I’m a lot pickier. I feel like standard tropes don’t work for me anymore and I crave more unique worlds and plotlines.

  2. This will be a pass for me. Sometimes I get the same feeling of “outgrowing romance” in books. I used to swoon ALL THE TIME for romances and now it’s rarer. However I think the real issue is that we’ve read such GREAT shippy romances that anything less doesn’t measure up. We both read a lot of fantasy that anything sub par immediately becomes “meh”. Actually… i’ve really struggled with harper fantasies period this year, haha, now that I think about it.

    • lockhartbecca

      Yes, that’s true. Since I’ve started reading tons of fantasy, I have a much harder time finding fantasy I actually love. Excited to finally be reading Lumatere though!!!

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