Thursday, 4 February 2016

Review: Sword and Verse

Sword and Verse
Rating: 4/5 
Buy or Borrow: Buy 
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher, Harper 360! 

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.

Sooooo I wasn't really sure what to expect when I dived in to this book, I mean I'd read the synopsis but I had my own ideas of what was going to happen and this book completely turned those ideas I had on their head! The book completely took me buy surprise and I wasn't really expecting any of some of the stuff to happen. Like I'd be reading thinking one thing was going to happen and then the complete opposite did! 

The first thing I loved about the book was the chapter headers. At the top of each chapter there's a little snippet of the story of the Gods and it continues throughout the book. It completely intrigued me and I loved the rich story that the author managed to tell while only doing it in small and concise chunks. The tempo of that story ramped up at the same times as the main story, and it was like reading a mini story within the main story and they both wove together and sped towards the end, it was fantastically done and I found myself completely fascinated with the story! 

The world of the book is so rich, there's all the myth and legend surrounding the Gods and you learn about it from two different perspectives with the story at the top of the chapters, and what the people know. You learn a hell of a lot about the world of the book and it was so intriguing because it was clearly well thought out and you wanted to know more and more about the world and how it worked. It's got a few other areas to it that we didn't actually get to explore, that I'm intrigued by! In the book, there's two different types of language/writing, Raisa's peoples is like sounds whereas the Kingdom she's in has a higher and lower version of their own and it's completely different. It was so complex and so damn intriguing and I could visualise some of it in my head! Like seriously, it was way complex, but explained so you understood easily and completely and utterly fascinating. It was all so incredibly original and we all know how I feel about that! The focus on language and writing and symbols, to me, really makes the book stand out from the crowd and helped me to connect with the book on a different level to most other books. 

I liked Raisa for the most part, I connected to her but at times I did want to shake her a bit for being a bit of a plank! She was kind to everyone, she worked hard, she's kept this secret all this time as she's trying to decode her heart verse and she tried to do the right thing more than once even if it didn't work out. I can't really blame her for not wanting to get involved with the resistance, if you want to survive it's a really good idea not to get involved, obviously! But then it did reach a point when I wanted to give her a shake because she wasn't joining out of loyalty to Mati and then it had been dragged out a bit and I was like GO ON, DO IT!! Anyway, she was an interesting character to read about, and I'd liked to have seen more of her time before being kidnapped! I'm also intrigued by what's going to happen to her now! 

What I found interesting about Raisa, was that she wasn't a sword wielding badass like most main female characters in these kinds of books. She used the language and the words as a weapon, and she maintained her loyalty to Mati the entire way through the book but still never forgot her people or the other slaves at the palace. She's strong mentally, and it made a change to see a character like that, she relied on her intelligence rather than her ability to toss a sword about! 

Mati is your typical sword wielding prince, but then at the same time...he's not. He doesn't particularly like violence, he doesn't like the way Raisa and her people are treated and wants to make things better for them but his council are like "hell no" and it's all very Game of Thrones with the political betrayals. He's just as intelligent as Raisa and he's so selfless, and so kind, there's one thing he does through the book for one of the kids that he didn't have to do but he did! He kept trying to protect Raisa and even when he was angry he was still looking out for her. There was a point when I thought he was going to be a douche but then it all got turned around! I found him rather refreshing actually, being so dedicated to Raisa. 

This book has a rather complex plot, there's a story within a story as the story of the Gods progresses and it was all very unexpected and completely awesome! There's all these little threads because there's Raisa and the resistance, her and Mati and then there's all this stuff going on with the council. Like the book is full of betrayals and lies, they all come out and get sorted, but it was kind of like Game of Thrones with Mati and his council and I kept waiting for something really bad to happen because Game of Thrones has taught my brain to expect the worse in those situations! I loved how I was constantly surprised with twists to the plot and even things that weren't really plot twists. Like I said, I had an idea in my head of what was going to happen but this book was completely different! 

The romance, we really need to talk about it because there is no love triangle. Yes you read that right. NO LOVE TRIANGLE. See I thought once this scene happened, Mati was going to be a douche, and that was it. Then I thought that there was going to be a love triangle, but there never was. I loved it. It's so rare to read a book that doesn't have a love triangle, I mean don't get me wrong, I and probably most of you, love a little bit of drama but in this book there's no drama that's not necessary to the plot. I loved how it was Mati and Raisa the whole way through, even when things got a bit rough between the two and you thought it was all going to end badly! They can't be together and so obviously there's bumps along the way it's not a smooth path to love, but that made it all so interesting! It was kind of refreshing and completely cute and adorable! 

The ending was freaking perfect, it was the most action packed part of the whole book and the fighting was vivid and had you on the edge of your seat. But then the whole last part of the book had me on the edge of my seat with baited breath waiting to see what was going to happen and I loved the ending and how the author did it, it was gorgeous. 

You're probably wondering why, if I loved the book so much, it's only got four stars. Well I had to mark it down because of a couple of things. While I loved the romance, to me, it all seemed a bit sudden. The first chapter is all about Raisa first being brought to be tested to be the Tutor in Training, and when she first meets Mati, then we jump to a year later and they're clearly friends, and then there's clearly something there. Considering how strong the romance was between the two, I thought it was a shame that we didn't get to see those feelings develop, which is what I thought was going to happen, I mean you see them become stronger but you don't see the development of them in the first place. 

Don't get me wrong, the development over the course of the book was perfect, I just felt like it was a bit rushed in the beginning to get the story going and I was disappointed not to see how these feelings came about. It felt a bit insta-lovey to me in the beginning, even though it wasn't. It just felt like it needed more development. It's almost like all that happens off screen as it where. I was looking forward to seeing how they became friends and how things went from there! While I loved Raisa and Mati, I still think they both could have been developed a bit more. 

The other thing is that the book starts off kinda slow, I ended up reading it in a couple of hours, but when I started I thought I was going to struggle to get through it. I was intrigued by the world so I kept on reading, and then it hits a point when the pace suddenly goes full throttle and all this stuff is happening and from that point on I was glued to the book and like I said, I ended up reading it in one sitting. The Resistance makes it's appearance early on and it was probably from that point that my ears perked up as it where and I got more interested because things started to happen. From that point on I was so invested, my heart sank when Raisa's did, I felt betrayed whenever she did, I felt a lot of things from events in the book! 

I think the problem with the pacing was that you jumped forward in time so much, you went months or years forward and while it worked sometimes, other times it didn't. Like perhaps the stuff between Mati and Raisa, the jump cut out the friendship and feelings starting. Some things, while I came to understand them in the end, where explained in a bit of a confusing and convoluted way but then maybe because it was mostly during the slow parts in the beginning, I wasn't paying enough attention! 

All in all, I found Sword and Verse to be an original and intriguing read. I loved the emphasis on the language and symbols to make the book stand out, I loved how the characters relied on their intelligence more than fighting skills, there wasn't all that much fighting in the book. I loved how once things got going, I became so absorbed in the book I couldn't put it down and my heart was racing at some points and sinking at others as betrayals and lies where revealed and things really, really, went downhill for the characters! 
I'm not sure if this is a standalone book or if there will be another, things at the ending where left sort of wrapped up but with some threads loose that could take us in to a second book! 

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