Review: The Bird and The Sword

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Goodreads Synopsis:

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 heav’n or hell. You will learn and you will thrive. Silence, Daughter. Stay alive.

The day my mother was killed, she told my father I wouldn’t speak again, and she told him if I died, he would die too. Then she predicted the king would trade his soul and lose his son to the sky.

My father has a claim to the throne, and he is waiting in the shadows for all of my mother’s words to come to pass. He wants desperately to be king, and I just want to be free.

But freedom will require escape, and I’m a prisoner of my mother’s curse and my father’s greed. I can’t speak or make a sound, and I can’t wield a sword or beguile a king. In a land purged of enchantment, love might be the only magic left, and who could ever love . . . a bird?

This wasn’t really what I expected, though the curse basically sums this whole thing up perfectly. But there is so much more going on! It’s not just a story about self-discovery, or about love. There is a war going on with unfeeling beasts, a political power-play by Lark’s father and fellow counselors continually altering and trying to outflank the king, and several plot twists that you won’t see coming till they are upon you.

I really liked watching Lark learn her voice – literally. In the start of the book you can tell how smart she is, but she is also so vulnerable. She’s spent most of her life imprisoned and hated by her father – one of the people who are supposed to love you no matter what. And when she is taken by the King she has trouble navigating the waters of what makes her useful and what makes her wanted. Watching her at the palace was very interesting, she’s basically growing up again. She has a phase of childish innocence and jubilation over the experience of learning to read and write. Then as her powers start to manifest she learns how to use them, and how to make sure she is not used for them.

I really enjoyed the romantic element of this story. It’s a central plot, but it’s not overdone at all. There are very few physical scenes, and only a handful of heart-to-hearts, and I thought they were all perfect. We can see the bond between the two grow and develop, and those moments prove the devotion the two have towards each other, leaving us able to focus on magic, war, and politics.

Overall this book was very enjoyable and I devoured it. The writing evoked the same lyrical cadence of the original curse often, making it an artful experience. Also, I mean look at that cover.

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