Monday, February 1, 2016

Sword and Verse by Kathy MacMillan (Sword and Verse book 1)

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

Fifteen year old Raisa is cleaning in the Library of the Gods before Prince Mati’s tutor is to be executed for treason. An Arnath child slave, she was captured by raiders two days after her sixth birthday and just before her father could teach her how to write. Only the king, his heir and their tutors know the higher order script. It is forbidden for even the nobles who refer to themselves as the Scholar class, because they could read and write, to know anything other than the lower order. The lower classes couldn't even learn that. Raisa is able to recognize the symbol for Rai, which could get her killed. With tensions running high over the impending executions, Raisa is caught removing one of the written letters to the Gods from its alcove in the Library. She is immediately taken to Prince Mati.

Mati asks if the claim is true and she says that it was just an accident. He orders her released. Notifying the king would only infuriate him. The guards reluctantly agree knowing that Tyasha’s guards are to executed as well. The ranking guard tells the prince that the letter is still on the library floor. The prince leads them all to the library. The guards and children have all moved as far as possible away from the half unrolled scroll. Prince Mati picks it up and asks Raisa if she can read it. He reads it, laughs and rolls it back up before placing it back in its slot. He asks her how old she is and questions the ranking guard if she isn’t too old for library work. The guard says that he will rectify it but the prince suggests that she become the next tutor-in-training. Following Tyasha’s execution the next day, Raisa joins a group of girls being tested to take her place. Fumbling through the testing, she is surprised to find herself chosen.

One year has passed since Raisa became the tutor-in-training. She studies all day along beside Prince Mati with the tutor, Laiyones ke Tirit. Raisa and Mati are close in age unlike Tyasha, who was seven years his senior. She likes the attention that the prince shows her but even Raisa knows that it is wrong since she is still essentially a slave. Raisa is also a bit frustrated because the only thing she has learned so far is the lower order script. She can recognize just a few of the symbols in her heart-verse that her father gave her on her sixth birthday. The heart-verse is a “symbol of who I was, who I was born to be. It was to have been the first thing I would learn to write.”  Raisa has kept it hidden since her capture nine years ago. Her father, one of the Learned Ones, was going to teach Raisa how to read and write the language of the Gods so that she could take his place on the council of four who passed on the teachings of their people. The Qilarites exterminated the Learned Ones and their families every chance they got.

Sotia is the displaced goddess of wisdom that is worshipped by the Arnathim. No daughter from a Scholar family wants to portray her, bound and gagged, even with Prince Mati as Aqil, standing over her with his foot on her back during the pantomime that takes place during the Festival of Aqil. Laiyonea doesn’t think King Tyno will agree, especially on the anniversary of Tyasha’s execution. Prince Mati pleads with Raisa to take part of Sotia. Wanting to finally learn what her heart-verse says, Raisa strikes a deal with Prince Mati to teach her the higher order script.
After making her grand exit from the stage, Raisa heads to the dressing room in the basement. She is surprised to find that she is not alone. The curly-haired slave from the audience that she recognized from the market is impatiently waiting on her. He binds her arms and clasps his hand over her mouth. He only wants to talk and curious, Raisa agrees. He asks her if she knows what Tyasha ke Demit did. Nodding, he tells her that she has the opportunity to serve her people as she did. Tyasha taught the Arnath people the knowledge stolen from them for years before she caught. Raisa asks him if he wants her to become a traitor. One way or the other, she will be betraying someone. She wil not help him and he needs to leave; the less she knows the better. He is surprised that she is unwillingly to rat him out but tells her that the Learned Ones would be ashamed by what she has become. There is a knock on the door and Kiti tells Jonis that it is time to leave. Raisa is shocked to learn that someone she knows is with the Resistance. Jonis leaves her with a coded message to signify whether or not she will join the Resistance.

Does Raisa ever figure out the heart-verse her father gave her? Will she join the Resistance and become a traitor like Tyasha ? Is Prince Mati really interested in her or is her imagination getting the best of her? Why is the higher order writing so secretive? Exactly what path will Raisa decide to take and where will it take her?

This book does function as a stand alone but the author is currently working on a companion novel.

Visit Kathy MacMillian’s website.

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