Title: The Bird and the Sword
Author: Amy Harmon
Narrator: Trina Nishimura
Running Time: 11 hours, 3 minutes
TRIGGER WARNINGS: N/A (PLEASE NOTE: Although I have not currently ascertained the need for any trigger warnings when it comes to this title, please inform me if have missed something and I will update this section)
Goodreads Summary: 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?
I…I’m really, really pleasantly surprised? I went into The Bird and the Sword thinking it was an Adult high fantasy from a big publisher…But I was wrong. The Bird and the Sword is:
- New Adult
- A high fantasy romance
- Self published
And yet, despite it not being at all what I expected…I really loved it? I’m not gonna lie to y’all: if I’d known that this book was a self published New Adult high fantasy romance, I probably wouldn’t have picked it up. But here I am now, standing before you (okay, blogging before you), with all of my preconceptions shattered.
I adored this book. The Bird and the Sword was magical, it was lyrical and beautifully written, it was the perfect balance of romance and non-romance plot, it was…incredible. I’ll be darned.
The plot of The Bird and the Sword revolves around the idea that in the land of Jeru, there are your average Joes and there are also magically endowed people. There are four types of magic wielders: the tellers (who can see the future and/or use the magic of words to cast spells), the changers (who can transform into animals), the spinners (who can change objects from one form to another), and the healers (who can heal people magically). However, long ago, Jeru was conquered by a line of warriors, who outlawed magic wielders.
In the present day, we meet Lark, a mute woman who, as a child, witnessed her mother’s murder at the hands of the King of Jeru after the king accused her mother of being a teller. Before she died, Lark’s mother “cast a spell” which took away Lark’s words and tied Lark’s life to that of her father. Now, Lark has become a prisoner of her father, a man who cares nothing for his daughter and lusts after the throne, for which he is second in line. One day, the king, Tiras, who is the son of the king who murdered Lark’s mother, arrives at Lark’s house. Tiras, seeing Lark as a bargaining chip, steals her away to his castle. And the story goes on from there.
Lark is a character who I really liked, despite the fact that I often couldn’t relate to her. She is gentle and slightly timid at first, but eventually she finds her fire. I loved watching her learn to stand her ground and let her walls come down. It was difficult sometimes, because Lark is a character who often feels that she has no agency and, as a result, she is not your typical “firebrand” female character. She often waited for things to happen at times when I would have made the decision to go out and make it happen for myself. For instance, she often comments on how she feels powerless as a woman in a patriarchal society, but she doesn’t ever act to change that fact or to empower herself. But in a way, this detail made the instances when Lark finally did decide to make things happen for herself much more rewarding. But, all in all, I did really like Lark’s character and her arc.
Tiras quickly became a favorite of mine! He is so gentle and kind and just and watching him struggle was absolutely heart-wrenching! I loved how he wanted to do better than his father, not simply out of selfishness, but because he truly felt that it was the right thing to do. I will admit, there were some times where I wanted to strangle him because of how his decision process made Lark feel, but I also understood that he made his choices based on his deep love for his kingdom.
Kjell and Boojhani were the only real side characters who we see and I liked them well enough. Kjell is hard for me to like due to his anger and prejudice, but I’m interested to see where his story goes as the sequel, The Queen and the Cure, follows him. Boojhoni is so lovable, of course, and seeing how much he loves Lark touched my heart. I do wish we saw more side characters, or focused more on the few ones that we had aside from Kjell and Boojhoni, but even with that being said, this is one of the few cases where I don’t think that the lack of developed side characters detracted from the story and its development and/or the main characters’ development.
Taking a tangential sidestep, the exploration of the relationship between Tiras and Lark was what really made the book for me. Harmon not only explores the bond between the two characters and how they interact, but also delves into how their relationship affects them personally. Harmon really examines how Lark ad Tiras’s relationship spurs their personal growth and development and/or sometimes their personal regression. I truly appreciated this element, as I feel like it’s something we rarely see and it helped me connect with the characters and get invested in Lark and Tiras as a couple.
Aside from the characters and their relationships, I was absolutely in love with the story of The Bird and the Sword! I really liked that despite the fact that this book is advertised as a fantasy romance, it has a plot that actually isn’t really centered around the romance. I’d say this book is about 50% romance and 50% fantasy–which was a great balance! It also had perfect pacing for me, never moving too fast or too slow or revealing things too soon. The Bird and the Sword is also a very character-driven story and yet it doesn’t forgo having a plot to focus only on the characters, which I really liked.
I don’t really have any major complaints. The story is a bit cliché in a few places, but not so much that it bugged me. I will note two kinda strange things. First off, the book begins with a weird biblical motif that later tapers off. Literally the first words of the story are a quote which matches a Bible verse almost line for line. While I am spiritual/Catholic, this did kinda bug me because I just don’t really like to have real religion heavily present in my fantasy books, since it comes off to me as trying to evangelize, even if that’s not the intention. Also, it pulled me out of the story because “Jeru” is a fantasy world, but the Bible is from our real world and a connection was never drawn between those two worlds? This confusion was intensified when Lark asked Tiras to read from The Art of War and he quoted passages from it. The problem is The Art of War is a real book. And, if I’m not mistaken, the passage Tiras quoted came from the actual, real book The Art of War. Which again brings into question Jeru’s unexplored ties with this, real world? After those two instances, there were no other times where this occurred and there was no mention of our world. But other than that, I had no real problems.
Too sum up, The Bird and the Sword was a wonderful read! It was so filled with magic and romance and the story completely swept me away. I’d absolutely recommend The Bird and the Sword and I definitely can’t wait to read book two! 4.5/5 Stars