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 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.Expected publication date: 19/01/16
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.
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Sword and Verse was one of my most anticipated Winter 2016 titles from Harper, so it's a shame that I didn't end up enjoying it.
The book opens on a good note, I was intrigued and I liked the little pieces of information we are given about the gods at the beginning of each chapter. But then comes along the romance, which in my opinion is one of the greatest downfalls of this book. It developed far too quickly - at only 20% there was a deceleration of love and not too long after they actually make love. This kind of romance does not work for me at all, I prefer a slow burn because I want to be rooting for the characters to get together, I want to feel that tension, y'know? When it happens too fast the flame goes out quickly. You could argue that because it's a standalone things had to be a bit rushed, but I have to disagree. I have read standalone books before with well paced romances, for example: The Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters, Troubled Waters by Sharon Shinn, Suite Dreams by Rachel Hawthorne - I could go on. For me it's all about the build up and tension, about the two characters getting to know each other.
Then there's the characters. Raisa was likable enough (except when she was thinking about Mati, then I wanted to shake her and tbh this was most of the time), and Mati was so boring - he was a bland cardboard cutout of a good guy. Some elements of the story were interesting, but that alone was not enough to hold my interest. I think this book could have been a whole lot better if the romance had been slowed down and the main characters, Raisa and Mati, had been more fleshed out and complex.