Volume Eleven in the Books That Matter Series
"This was all writing was, in the end: markings in the dust. It didn't do anything, couldn't change anything. They kept it a secret, made it seem powerful--and that had made me want it more. But it was nothing." -Raisa (from Sword and Verse by Kathy MacMillan)
Nothing could be further from the truth in Kathy MacMillan's Sword and Verse and that is why it is a book that matters. It took me a little while to get into it, but once I did, I couldn't believe the depths of which the author drew me into the story.
Raisa is an Arnath slave, turned Tutor, tasked with the job of one day teaching the future king's heir how to write. Unlike most slaves in Qilara, who are forbidden to learn how to read and write, Raisa is in an unique position. She is the child of the Learned Ones, a secret she must keep from everyone if she hopes to survive as a slave and Tutor.
In a time when so many Young Adult novels are about dystopian societies and revolutions, this book stands apart from the pack. It has the feeling of being set in a much older timeframe while still remaining current for readers. At points, the story had the feeling of being set in ancient times, but there was also a strong sense of the Civil War era too. The aspects of the Resistance and the dystopian society make it current to what is already in the market but it also addresses the power of the written word and how taking that from people is a means of keeping them down. Because of this creative aspect, it spoke to me as a writer, an educator, and an avid reader. At times, I question if writing actually can make a difference, and then I look to my Books That Matter Series, and I remind myself that it can and it does.
If you are looking for a good book that fits solidly in the Young Adult market while still being unique, then I highly recommend Sword and Verse by Kathy MacMillan. The power of words can make a difference. Not to mention, the ending is pure genius but you will have to read it to find out for yourself.