Sword and Verse

Sword and Verse - Kathy MacMillan I'm not really sure what to rate this one. During the first couple of chapters I thought it was going to be fantastic. I loved the depiction of writing, and the fact that we have a female character who is strong in learning, but not fighting for once. I thought Raisa's crush on Mati was cute. I thought that the descriptions of the writing symbols and runes were interesting. I liked the times where Raisa's hardship was described, and her capture was interesting, but because she was a tutor, and was pampered (compared to other slaves) and had relatively few hardships, we didn't get the impression that slavery was very hard. Yes we saw some whipping scars on other slaves, but that was telling, not showing. Overall Raisa seems to have adjusted to slavery too quickly and easily, even though she was only six when she was captured. It might have been a better story if it had started at Raisa's capture, instead of telling about it in flashbacks, and if there had been more focus on the hardship of slavery, and less focus on the romance. I was also confused by the talk of 'Learned Ones' on the islands. I thought that on the islands everyone learned to read and write, and only in Kilara were these skills limited, but the fact that the islands had 'Learned Ones' made it seem like the islanders limited the skills in a way similar to the Kilarans.

And then the romance started and what was cute as a crush came out in a nauseating depiction of lust being passed off as love. I wished that the author had left the romance as a crush until the end when Mati and Raisa could have had a relationship without the sneaking around. I felt that, if Mati had really loved Raisa he wouldn't have let the relationship go as far as it had. It's one thing for people in love to risk themselves to be physical in a relationship. It's something different if they are risking each other. If Mati had loved Raisa instead of just being infatuated with her, then he wouldn't have let the relationship go on for that long, or become so physical. The middle of the book was just romance or Raisa moping because of the lack of romance, and that was very, very annoying. The romance also made Raisa stupid. When Janna found Raisa's hidden papers in the Adytum, she made it to have been an accident. Mati was smart enough that he already knew that Raisa was hiding papers, but Raisa should have taken Janna aside and told her that she couldn't tell anyone about the hidden papers. If Janna was smart enough to lie and claim to be an orphan, than she would have been smart enough to understand that she had to keep quiet about the hidden papers if Raisa had asked her to. But Raisa was neglecting her duty to raise Janna, instead going back to her affair with Mati and letting other servants take care of her, so I guess it's not really all that surprising that her stupidity and neglect led to her getting into trouble.

Eventually, I think that Raisa and Mati's relationship became real, and I stopped minding it so much, but it took a very long time. It wasn't until after all of Raisa's lies and stupidity were shown to Mati, and he still protected her, still loved her, that I started to believe his lust may have turned into love. The descriptions of the end battle were muddled and confused. I don't think the author was very good at describing fighting. The way she talked about it, it seemed like the fighting only happened where Raisa was watching. If she wasn't looking at a battle it froze, and if she looked back at it, it began again. The wrap up wasn't well done either. It was very fast, and I thought it was weird that suddenly everyone went from wanting to murder Raisa to practically worshipping her.

There were parts of this book that were good, but they were rare, and had long gaps of boring scenes and poor writing in between them. I think that Kathy MacMillan has potential as an author, but she didn't even come close to fulfilling it with this book.