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Sword and Verse

(Sword and Verse #1)

3.47  ·  Rating details ·  2,541 ratings  ·  503 reviews
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 ...more
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published January 19th 2016 by HarperTeen
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Kathy MacMillan Sword and Verse functions as a standalone, though I am working on a sequel from another character's point of view. And no, no love triangle. :)…moreSword and Verse functions as a standalone, though I am working on a sequel from another character's point of view. And no, no love triangle. :)(less)
Kathy MacMillan I am working on a sequel that features what happens next, but the first book functions as a standalone. I promise no cliffhanger endings. :)
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Average rating 3.47  · 
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 ·  2,541 ratings  ·  503 reviews

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Emily May
Aug 27, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2016, fantasy, young-adult, arc
"Days in the Adytum fell into a dreamlike pattern: we talked, we kissed, occasionally we even did our work.”

DNF - 50%

I forced myself to the halfway mark just so I could say I gave this book a decent chance to become good... but when someone was murdered around 50% through and it affected me about as much as if someone had coughed - that's when I decided it was time to move on to other things.

Sometimes when I don't enjoy a book I can still understand what the publisher was thinking - fantasie
Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies
DNF at 40%

This book wasn't overwhelmingly romantic. The main character wasn't overwhelmingly stupid. I guess the word "overwhelming" is the key here, because it's what this book wasn't. It was completely underwhelming and mind-numbingly boring, and I think that's reason enough for my rating.

I didn't enjoy it. It was about a slave girl who's chosen for some reason to be a royal tutor, and all of a sudden the prince falls in love with her. Like wtf? I don't even know what happened. All of a sudde
Jun 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016-releases
***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog***

Sword and Verse by Kathy MacMillan
Publisher: Harper Teen
Publication Date: January 19, 2016
Rating: 5 stars
Source: eARC from Edelweiss

Summary (from Goodreads):

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 offen
C.G. Drews
Sep 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
I'm in a strange little muddle at the moment because this book had so many aspects that made me grind my teeth, but yet I STILL REALLY LIKED IT?!? So who knows. Maybe I'm just craving epic fantasy with good world building and this truly had that. And also that cover. C'mon. THAT COVER. Plus it featured writing and I think that's awesome. Because I quite like writing. As you can note by my obsession with writing aaaall the reviews.


I really appreciated the world!! It's all gods and temples
Brittany Cavallaro
Nov 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing

Since I was a teen, I've loved fantasy novels. The really epic ones, with fierce, smart, flawed female MCs, beautiful world-building, and complex challenges. More than anything else, I think fantasy novels (by Tamora Pierce and Mercedes Lackey and Marion Zimmer Bradley and now Kathryn Purdie and KATHY MACMILLAN) have taught me how to be a good person in a difficult world.

But one issue I've had, one and off, is that I'm not particularly a physical person, and while I love fighting and gi
Ruth Lehrer
Nov 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of this book. Get ready for 2016 - What a super story! A brave heroine, a caste system, gods involved in humans' lives - what more could you want? A surprise ending, that's what! The intricate descriptions of the different writing systems made me sure that they truly existed and that MacMillan was simply telling us about research she had done in some far off part of the world. I loved our Raisa, who is a scholar as opposed to a soldier and who does not wait f ...more
Sarah Elizabeth
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss.)

“I never knew Tyasha ke Demit, but her execution started everything.”

This was an okay fantasy story, although I lost interest a little at the end.

Raisa was a bit of an infuriating character, because she kept making bad decisions. It seemed like even though she knew what she should and shouldn’t be doing, she kept doing these things anyway, and I just wanted to sm
Nov 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Wow, okay, I adored this book. It surprised me so much, and so pleasantly. I just finished and am still thrumming with the happy energy of a truly satisfying ending. The pacing was interesting to me--the first half very much serves as an establishing of the world, the rules, the characters, the stakes, and the conflict. Which is to say that I was at first hooked based solely on the romance, while everything else was being set into place. Then, as the action was building, I felt a bit of a lull t ...more
Jessica Cluess
Nov 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I received a copy of this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

This will probably be one of my favorite debut fantasies of 2016. The world building on display is simply phenomenal. The system of slavery in this world felt both heart breaking and authentic, and the places and people felt fully fleshed out and realized. Raisa is an utterly compelling heroine. I loved that she took time to grow into her strength and courage, to experience both love and heartbreak. She's one of the most relatable YA
Sarah Ahiers
Jul 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I was lucky enough to read an early version of this book and if you like YA high fantasy in the veins of Rae Carson, then you will LOVE this book.

Raisa is raised as a slave in the palace, one of only two who are taught the language of the gods--writing--in order to tutor the prince and council him when he one day becomes king. But Raisa doesn't plan for falling in love with him, nor that he would return her love. Or that the slave resistance will pressure her to help them, even as it threatens t
Aug 23, 2015 marked it as dnf
**I received an ARC from HarperCollins/EpicReads as part of their early readers group in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.**

so i'm going to throw in the towel for this book. unfortunately, this book was just too dull and there's instalove. i made it about 25% through and there is literally no plot yet. whatever hints of plot there are it's not compelling enough. the characters are also just so flat and too tropey. i did get this for review from epic read early readers group
Aug 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Wow! This was a fantasy power read for me--meaning, I read half one day and half the next, stopping only to sleep because the time change made me feel like 6pm was actually midnight!

SWORD AND VERSE is a richly-imagined fantasy set in a world where words are sacred, and writing is permitted only to Scholars. Raisa is an Arnath slave selected to study the written language as Tutor to the Qilarite royals, whom she comes to know and care for despite the deep, painful divide between their peoples. Ra
Traci Chee
Apr 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I was lucky enough to get my hands on an early version of this novel, and let me just say I'm deeply impressed. As someone who loves reading, writing, and all things bookish, I couldn't get enough of this world where, in no uncertain terms, literacy = power. I love how MacMillan plays with storytelling, using myths to set up expectations or dash them, to create suspense and foreshadow conflicts to come. The setting is sharp, so realistically drawn that it's easy to forget this is fantasy, and I ...more
Damaris (GoodChoiceReading)
Yesssssssss!!!! I got a little worried for a minute there, but in the end this book was everything I was hoping for and more!!!!!! The romance between the Prince & Raisa.... *sigh* my poor heart....

Awesome story! Full review to come!!!

----------------- FULL REVIEW 12/31/2015

Sword and Verse takes readers on an unforgettable adventure. Not only is this book amazing from the first word to the very last, it is also unpredictable, and has the PERFECT romance.

When I first saw the cover to this book
May 18, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016
Review found at:

This story was so unique. I loved the overall story and plot of this book.

This story tells of a unique kingdom that has conquered a people and outlawed learning to read and write. The levels of writing and who can read/write is complicated and different.

Raisa was from a conquered people that should’ve been extinct but she survived and is last of her “kind.” She doesn’t tell anyone of what she knows and who she really is. She is forced into servitude in the
Kelly Hager
Jul 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
First, as you know, books about books and words and the love of same tend to be my favorites.

As you can tell from the synopsis, this is a world where only a tiny handful of people are allowed to be literate. (We won't even talk about how terrifying that is for me.)

Know what we can talk about? How awesome Raisa is. Her entire motivation is to help people, even when there's a major risk to herself and her own safety. (Well, that's her primary motivation. Her secondary motivation is to decode a me
Amber (Books of Amber)
Sep 02, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: to-review
This review was originally posted on Books of Amber

I'm not entirely sure what the plot of Sword and Verse was meant to be. It had such promise. Promise of a revolution, of a slave fighting back for her people. Typically those are the stories that pull me in and make me fall head over heels, but in this case it fell flat. It just wasn't executed in a way that was enjoyable for me.

The biggest problem with this book is that the main focus is the instalove and romance between Raisa and Prince Mati.

Parker Peevyhouse
Nov 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Should Raisa stay loyal to the prince she loves or help her enslaved people carry out a secret rebellion?

I love what Kathy MacMillan does with the dilemma at the heart of this novel. Raisa's relationship with the prince isn't easy, and the leaders of the rebellion aren't always trustworthy. Raisa has to make a lot of difficult decisions, and the results didn't always play out as I expected them to.

I've been recommending this to my friends who love books like Graceling, and they're eager to get a
Colleen Houck
I was biting my nails about Mati for like the entire book. Hoping he wasn't a bad guy. Hoping he'd do the right thing. Hoping he wouldn't die. Seriously, like the entire book. That's how invested I was in him. This is such a creative and unique world. The mythology is so interesting and the writing is cool! Reminds me a little of Chinese writing with the brush strokes. The end was so climatic! Still recovering. =) ...more
Heidi Heilig
Feb 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
You guise, I swore to myself I had to stop reading for a bit because I had work piled on my desk but when this ARC came i was was like (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻ WORK BE DAMNED! And while my deadlines might hate me, I'm glad I followed my heart.

I flew through this stunner in less than 24 hours because I couldn't put it down. The gods! The world! The romance! THE KISSING!

SWORD AND VERSE was an epic high fantasy filled with intrigue and power struggles and incredible characters. My favorite was actually Soraya
Rosalyn Eves
Jul 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
In her debut novel, Kathy MacMillan has created an intricately imagined fantasy world with a wonderful mythology, where slaves (and most of the populace) are forbidden literacy. But Raisa, a slave child, is given an unexpected gift when she's raised to the position of the prince's tutor, and taught to read alongside the prince. But just as a forbidden relationship with the prince blossoms, Raisa also gets drawn into an underground slave rebellion and is forced to figure out where her alliances l ...more
Bridget Hodder
Jan 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya, magic
An epic high fantasy!

When I saw the gorgeous cover, with that prominent sword, I thought this might be one of those YAs with a lot of flashy blade-slashing and gory battle scenes that all become the same after a while. But I had hopes for something better.

My hopes were fulfilled. This is an intriguing story, set in a world built so well that it feels truly historical, with a reluctant heroine who has to do a hell of a lot more than step up to some pre-arranged "Destiny".

This heroine, Raisa, mus
Aug 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016-release, won, arc, i-own
This was beautiful. I don't even have words right now. I need to let everything sink down, but I'll write a review as soon as I can.


Okay, I'm not gonna lie, I finished this book on August 29, and since then I've forgotten a lot of details I wanted to talk about. I just forgot I hadn't written my review yet, sometimes I really don't like myself.

Let me start of with saying that I won an Advanced Reader's Copy over on twitter by Harper 360 UK and I am so, so g
Brittany (Brittany's Book Rambles)
3.5/5 Stars

Sword and Verse reads exactly how I want historical fiction novels to read. There is a lot of information, a very detailed setting, but with twists that change the original story. I don't think that Sword and Verse is actually a historical fiction, but I really wish that more books from that genre were more like this one. Sword and Verse would have benefited from being broken up into two books so that MacMillan would have had more time and space to develop the plot and the characters.
Melissa Gorzelanczyk
Sep 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I received an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

The premise of this book is so unique and will appeal to teen who loves books, words and an unlikely love story. Kathy MacMillan has woven a wonderful story that demonstrates the power of language and communication, and the danger of limiting those within our world.

Add Sword and Verse to your to-be read list!
nick (the infinite limits of love)

Out of all the Harper Teen Winter 2016 books, Kathy MacMillan's Sword and Verse was my most anticipated 2016 debut. The synopsis called to me with its mention of a kingdom where reading and writing is illegal. It sounded unique and a book brimming with a ton of potential. Sadly though, the execution of the story was faulty and Sword and Verse ended up disappointing me.

There's a LOT that went wrong for me with Sword and Verse, but briefly, here are my main issues:

Number 1: The bland and insuffera
Actual Rating: 3.5 stars

Let me just start off by saying how much I love this cover. IT'S SO GORGEOUSSSS AHHH. The cover and the synopsis are what actually made me pick up the book in the first place. I loved the concept of this book!

The main character, Raisa, was pretty likable. One thing I loved about her was how she didn't just sit around and not do anything. She was took action, especially at the end of the book. She did whatever she could to help people and I loved that about her, even thoug
Wendy MacKnight
Jan 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016-reads
Wow! Talk about storytelling and world-building! From the very first page I was sucked into Raisa's world and never stopped rooting for her. When she falls in love with the Prince Mati, your heart breaks for her, for it seems like the age-old story of slave girl falling in love with the one thing she cannot have, but as is the case with every aspect of this book, there are layers within layers that lead to a surprise in every chapter and this is a page-turner to the very end. Besides the fully c ...more
Aug 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely amazing. One to watch, that's for sure! Review coming later on! ...more
Brooke (The Cover Contessa)
I want to thank Harper Teen for providing me with a copy of this book to read and give an honest review. Receiving this book for free has in no way altered my opinion or review.

I will say that when I first saw this title on Edelweiss and read the synopsis, I wasn't really all that interested. But then I saw it popping up on my newsfeed through my bookish friends. And everything they were saying was great. So I went back and read the blurb again. And I decided it intrigued me and I wanted to see
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Kathy MacMillan is a writer, American Sign Language interpreter, librarian, and signing storyteller. She writes picture books (the Little Hands Signing series, Familius Press), children’s nonfiction (She Spoke: 14 Women Who Raised Their Voices and Changed the World, Familius Press), and young adult fantasy. Her debut young adult novel, Sword and Verse (2016) was a finalist for the Compton Crook Aw ...more

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