Monday, August 22, 2016

Amy Harmon - The Bird and the Sword

"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 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 sell 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?

Comment: This is the second book I read by author Amy Harmon. Although this one wasn't as wonderful for me, I still think it was good. This is the author's first attempt at fantasy and, in my opinion, she managed to do a good work.

This is the story of Lark, a young woman with a Gift, the power to Tell and make things happen. However, this power - and others - isn't well seeing by most people and the king actually persecutes and kills those who are Gifted. Her mother has sacrificed herself for Lark and told her to never reveal her Power. Because of this, Lark has become a mute.
Years after that, Lark is kidnapped by King Tiras, the son of the previous king who killed Lark's mother. King Tiras needs Lark's father help to battle against the Volgar, beasts who fly and kill humans. While living in Tiras' castle, Lark not only gets to learn to write and read, something never allowed to her, but she also starts to develop feelings for Tiras and his kingdom. But Lark has the Power to Tell and what would happen if others found she is different?

This is the August book for the book club I belong to. It was an interesting pick and because I liked the first book I've read by the author, I thought this would be a great book by her talent alone. I'm very glad it was a great story.

This is a great new world created by Amy Harmon, a fantasy type of world, with a medieval feel but where people can be divided into humans and Gifted. These last ones are special, are descendants from four type of beings that, with time, have become the enemy because people always fear what and who is different. A long time ago, there were Tellers, people who could speak and make things happen, Changers, people who could turn into any animal, Healers, people who could heal and Spinners, people who could spin things into other forms or materials.
Because of this, humans with no powers are now afraid of what Gifted can do and accused them of all the problems that exist. We know this is a matter of fear and generalization, but even those who are Gifted feel the fear and the unfairness of everything.

I liked this story a lot, Lark is obviously a Teller but she's mute and can't speak anymore. This doesn't stop her from trying and from wishing she could help others. Her personality is very sweet and quiet, I liked how she turned out to be a strong person but yes, there are many moments where she acts insecure on her abilities and in who she is but I get her and I think I'd act like her if I were in such a situation. It was great to see her find happiness, though.

The plot is not very complicated, King Tiras is ill and needs to secure his kingdom but with time he and Lark fall in love and learn to trust one another and that was the best, how little moments gained strength between them. I still think this could have been done better, because despite being emotional, it wasn't as heartfelt as it could, at least I felt almost a restraint from the author to increase the emotional levels. I suppose that wasn't a bad decision, because her work is usually very heavy emotionally...

Something I also would improve would be the relationship with one o two secondary characters, they could have been developed more. There are some surprises closer to the end in this aspect and that was unexpected but overall, it could have been worked out better.
The way things end, in terms of plot, were quite good and not too tragic, which would have clashed against the tone of the story. All in all, this was a great story, balanced but not perfect.
The romance was truly the best part. It was more subtle than exciting yes, but sweet. And the pace served the story well. The secrets to uncover were well mixed into everything and even the dichotomy Gifted/humans was well played.

There is always something else we could say or mention to make this more interesting but I don't have the words, not like Lark might. It's funny how we often pay more attention to certain details and not the whole picture. I guess this is one of these cases, the overall idea is positive but what makes this amazing, to me, is the little details about Lark and Tiras' relationship, about the world and people's feelings. It's certainly worth it reading.
Grade: 8/10

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