I've been reviewing books on Goodreads for a long time, but I finally decided to try a book blog. First up is a book that I recently read and thought was amazing.
The Bird and the Sword by Amy Harmon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I had never heard of The Bird and the Sword until I saw it on the list of fantasy nominees for the Goodreads choice awards, and based on the cover I never would have guessed it was fantasy. Now that I've read it I consider it to be among the best books I've read this year.
The Bird and the Sword is my favorite kind of fantasy. I would compare it to reading Juliette Marillier's Heart's Blood, or her Shadowfell Series. It also brought to mind Uprooted by Naomi Novik, not because those stories are necessarily similar in content so much as the type of fantasy they are. They all have that romantic, fairytale feel to them. They all have the same type of protagonist, one who is unsure of herself in the beginning, or who would just be ignored if not for some latent talent she possesses. The love interests are also similar in some ways. I guess you could say this is a fantasy romance, but it was done so well. Nothing cheesy here.
The story starts off with Lark as a young child. She and her mother are both "gifted" but they have to hide that fact because magic is forbidden and all the gifted are killed. That's a theme that has been visited many times in fantasy, but I liked what the author did with it here. The King ends up finding out and the dying words of Lark's mother end up being the catalyst for Lark being unable to speak and her father compelled to protect her lest he lose his life.
"Swallow, daughter, pull them in, those words that sit upon your lips. Lock them deep inside your soul, hide them ‘til they’ve time to grow. Close your mouth upon the power, curse not, cure not, ‘til the hour. You won’t speak and you won’t tell, you won’t call on heaven or hell. You will learn and you will thrive. Silence, daughter. Stay alive."
The rest of the story takes place years later when Lark is 21 years old and is brought to the castle by the present king (the previous king's son, who took over the throne after his father died) as a hostage until her father keeps his promise to send aid in an ongoing war.
This book was just beautiful and it kept me reading into the wee hours of the night. It wasn't perfect (what is The Art of War doing in an alternate world story?), but it was a magical, romantic read and I loved it.
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