Posted on March 17, 2017
Review: The Bird and the Sword by Amy Harmon
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?
With this gorgeous cover and high praises from my friends I couldn’t pass this book. I started it with some trepidation though. I’ve known Amy Harmon as a contemporary writer. I enjoyed a couple of her previous works but at first I dismissed The Bird and the Sword despite its appealing cover and intriguing premise; I’m weary when authors try to write outside their usual genre. While I appreciate that they try to expand their range, I’ve been burn too many times. And then praising reviews begin to appear in my feed and I was tempted. In the end I loved this fantasy way more than Harmon’s contemporaries.
Firstly Amy Harmon’s writing is beautiful. Was it always this enchanting? I don’t remember. I need to reread her contemporaries and see it for myself.
I liked the beginning of the book a lot: unique world, mystery and a promise of romance. What not to love here? Lark was an amazing protagonist; I loved her will and her courage.
The romance… Well I have mixed feeling about it. On the one hand it was beautiful. But can we expect less from a contemporary romance writer? I personally find really fascinating romances with power imbalance and I think Harmon handled this aspect tactfully. It was a slow-burn romance, and I loved build-up. It was fascinating to witness how Lark and Tiras gradually came from weariness to tentative friendship and more. After Tiras revealed his secret their romance somewhat stalled. Have you seen this movie The Time Traveler’s Wife? It’s very different from The Bird and the Sword, but they have one thing in common: the heroine spends a lot of time waiting when her beloved would return to her. It has the same sense of desperation and loneliness. If you don’t know this about me: I hate to wait. To wait and not be able to do anything is my nightmare. So this aspect of The Bird and the Sword caused frustration.
Another complaint from me is the ending. The author packed too much action and revelations in last pages for my liking.
I don’t read a lot of fantasy, so I’m not an expert here, but I found this book heavy on romance and light on fantasy. The world while unique was painted in wide strokes. The readers are given only sketchy view of this world. I wonder what seasoned fantasy readers would think about this book.
My review ended up being more negative than I intended. I didn’t mean to discourage anyone from reading this story; on the contrary I recommend it. I think “The Time Traveler’s Wife syndrome” is my personal thing, and if you like fast-paced books you would enjoy the ending.
On the side note: I don’t know why some readers marked this book as NA. It was YA, and I wish it wasn’t. There were so many unexplored possibilities. I wish this story was sexier.