In a sweeping fantasy debut that Franny Billingsley called “fascinating and unique,” palace intrigue blends with epic world building, resulting in a story that fans of Rae Carson and Megan Whalen Turner will love.
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.
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.
Kathy MacMillan has been a librarian, American Sign Language interpreter, children’s performer, teacher, storyteller, and writer. Her previous work includes educator and parent resource books about promoting literacy through signing with all children. Sword and Verse was inspired by her research into ancient libraries and her interest in exploring the power of language. Kathy lives in Owings Mills, MD, with her husband and son.