Sword & Verse
When Raisa was a child, her village was raided and she was kidnapped and enslaved. Forced to work in the palace as a cleaner, a job she’s becoming too old for, she finds herself with the chance to become the new Tutor-in-training when the previous one is to be executed for treason. No one knows that Raisa is a Learned One, someone who already knows some of the higher order symbols that are only supposed to be known by the King, the Prince, and the Tutor. It’s a dangerous position, as any hint that she’s a Learned One could mean her death, but Raisa finds she enjoys her lessons with Prince Mati and the romance that’s brewing between them. When the resistance approaches her for her help, the same resistance that the previous tutor-in-training was helping that got her executed, Raisa knows helping them could mean freeing her people, but it also means betraying Mati.
This book had a two stories in one feeling as there was the main story of Raisa and her journey but also each chapters had a little bit of the mythology of the Gods from this world and each section created a story. Both were interesting and the Gods’ story added to Raisa’s and the more they both went on, they more intertwined they appeared to be.
I enjoyed Raisa as the main character for the most part. There were times I thought she was pretty naive and passive but she truly wanted to help people and to feel that connection with her father through the symbols. So much had been taken from her but she refused to just give up. There were times when she made such bad decisions and it was incredibly frustrating because she definitely knew it was a bad decision but did it anyway. Then she would turn around and be extremely logical and make a great decision. It was frustrating but also enjoyable because her bad decisions usually came as a reaction to something and they were realistic reactions, even if they weren’t smart reactions.
I would have liked to have seen more depth in the romance before things started to get serious. The crush was already happening when the book started and developed into romance pretty fast. They were cute together and I liked their flirty banter but I was lacking a lot of the depth in the relationship. Did they fall for each other because they spent so much time together and not a lot of time with other people their age? What made each of them so special in each other’s eyes? Their love was obvious in the way they treated each other but there wasn’t a whole lot behind it.
The plot started off slowly. There was a lot of build-up with the symbols and Raisa learning the lower order, then the higher order, and writing and writing and writing the symbols over and over again. There were a few times when it seemed like the action would start to pick up only to stall out. Once the action did finally start, it didn’t stop. There was almost too much happening at the end of the book to keep track of everything. The slower pace left a lot of room for world-building, and I definitely appreciated all the details of this world and the descriptions of the places they visited. The library that was described sounded absolutely amazing. Even with the uneven pacing, the plot was easy to follow and it was one I enjoyed. The poor girl helping the rebellion against the world leaders trope has been done again and again but I liked the elements that were added in this book, with so much emphasis being placed on the ability to read the symbols and who should have the right to be able to read.
Overall, it was slower than I would have liked and the romance lacked a little depth but it was still enjoyable once the action really got under way.
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.