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The Bird and the Sword Paperback – May 6, 2016
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About the Author
Amy Harmon is a New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author of ten novels, including the Whitney Award winning The Law of Moses. Her historical novels, inspirational romances, and young adult books are now being published in twelve countries around the globe.
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Top Customer Reviews
The Bird and the Sword is a tale with a message and the message is the power of words. It’s about the spells we create with words, the changes we make with words, the people we are because words, the strength we relinquish, and the strength we claim with our words. This book is powerful. It’s a quiet power, an unassuming power, but powerful nonetheless. I fell in love with the messages imbedded in this enchanting story.
In The Bird and the Sword, we follow Lark, a lonely girl who loses her voice and freedom after the death of her mother. Lark can’t speak, but she is not silent. As a reader she speaks to you, and you can’t help but listen. I so enjoyed getting to know Lark and falling under her spell. Through Harmon’s words, which are like a song, Lark became real to me, and experiencing her vitality was unlike anything else I’d ever experienced as a reader. She’s multidimensional and I felt her loneliness, I felt her curiosity, I felt her bravery, her insecurity, her strength and resolve. I felt every damn thing with her. She’s an inspiration.
Lark’s arc and development is the focal point of The Bird and the Sword, but her story is brilliantly and flawlessly intertwined with the other cast of characters. I keep using that word, but it really can’t be overstated how brilliant this novel is. The characters are brilliant! Of course Lark is the be-all end-all for me, but Tiras is a captivating character, and worthy hero. His story is compelling, and his character so romantic and noble that I swooned more than a few times, and I hate that word. But, there’s no other way to describe how I felt. His interactions with Lark…their chemistry together… Jesus.
Amy Harmon’s books may have a reputation for being tame compared to what else is out there in the romance genre, but don’t let anyone convince you that this isn’t a sexy read. It’s subtly sexy. Sneakily sexy. I swear, there was a scene when Lark and Tiras were together and simply standing next to each other, hands brushing, and I about lost my sh*t. It’s one of those books. Also, Tiras does something for Lark, something that’s so simple yet so vital for her and I think it might be the most romantic thing I’ve ever read. So, this book is romantic, and it is sexy, as well as being a fantastical adventure.
The other characters are also greatly exciting and so fun to love and loathe. Each was colorful and layered, and I hated to part with a single one, even the ones I wanted run through with a sword.
I’ve seen it mentioned that some readers are hesitant to read The Bird and the Sword because it’s a fantasy romance, and that just isn’t their thing. I have a few friends who have read this out of their comfort zone and they’ve fallen for it hard, as well as many readers that I’ve seen on the web that took a chance and loved it. Also, there’s a flip side to that reluctance. I’m a reader who’s enjoyed fantasy and I’ve loved everything I’ve read by Amy Harmon, but I was still somewhat skeptical when I saw she was doing a complete genre flip (though she’s written stories with fantastical elements before). The world building, the rules, the history, the adventure, the length of the story, the length of the series (was it a series?)… I had a few questions. But the thing about being a talented writer and storyteller — you’ve got the skill to deliver anything, and she delivered.
With The Bird and The Sword, Amy Harmon took a chance and experimented with her craft, and the end result is something so wonderful, it’s incredible. This fantasy romance lives up to its definition, it’s imaginative and emotional. I’ve already read this one twice and have no doubt I’ll read it a ridiculous amount of times more, because I just love how it makes me feel. This is undoubtedly my favorite book of the year so far.
(This was supposed to be a short review 😁)
Like the title of this high fantasy novel by Amy Harmon, this quote has many meanings. This book is masterfully written and captivating to read. It is also exceedingly difficult to review without giving away the plot. I can simply urge you to become immersed in the fantasy world and the wonderful characters of Jeru. Young as she is, Lark is mature and dignified and her presence infuses an epic tale. Taris is protective and honorable, seeking always to do best for his kingdom. While Harmon indulges in light foreshadowing, I have to admit I was unprepared for major plot twists that kept this book an absolute page turner. There are good and evil characters and every shade in between. There is romance and mystery and high adventure. There is betrayal and salvation. There is magic and politics. And there is beautiful, mesmerizing prose.
At the beginning, I was lulled into believing I was reading a re-imagined fairy tale. Piece by piece, person by person, experience by experience, Lark is exposed to the wonders and dangers of Jeru. Concurrently, this book takes on the mantle of a fully realized high fantasy. The romance is robust, yet tasteful in its explicitness. The plot is original, yet has the feel of a classic. Similar to the best of those classics, the dialogue and narrative has multiple, richly layered meanings, where words are at their best.
I gobbled this book up. I couldn’t stop reading it and even neglected sleep in order to finish it. Thus I am truly dismayed that I am giving this book a lower rating due to some major issues with the plot.
What I liked:
1) The story was very well written. It had a poetic quality and was reminiscent of a bedtime story. It engendered the feeling of reading a fairytale that had yet to be discovered. I highlighted many passages that I wanted to mull over later on due to the beauty of the text.
2) Something else I really liked was the main character Lark. Lark was a little spitfire! She is stubborn and headstrong. She is also true to herself and courageous. Her magic never made her feel ashamed even though those who practiced magic in the Kingdom of Jeru were considered abominations. Lark loves purely and with all of her heart: even when she wasn’t sure of the love interest’s feelings for her. She was compassionate towards those who were oppressed for their magical ability and fought for them. She put herself in harm’s way to protect those she loved.
3) The magic: I love that words were crucial to Lark’s ability to cast magic. By learning to read, Lark could now form words and sentences in her mind to command objects to bend to her will. Also I am very happy that though Lark was mute, she was able to communicate mind to mind with other gifted. I would have been extremely frustrated if she could not communicate with those around her for the entire book.
What I Disliked
1) The Love Interest: I did get invested into the love story and I won’t say it was completely terrible. There were some sweet moments of common affection between Lark and Taris. King Taris, however, was very demanding of Lark and expected her to follow his wishes without brooking any argument. Sometimes she would obey with hardly any objection and it felt very controlling. Also the whole reason for wooing and marrying Lark was to use her for her powers against his enemies. Later Taris professes that he did in fact love her but it is only after they are married and the book is about 75% of the way through. Lark has agonized and wondered if her husband loves her most of the book. And honestly, we as the reader are not sure if he does either. We know he wants her physically and the he wants the use of her power but we are not sure of much else until he verbally confesses. It made my heart hurt for Lark
2) The plot didn’t make sense:
At the beginning of the book, young Lark meets Prince Taris and unknowingly, speaks a curse over him by saying the word “Mikiya” which means eagle in another language. Although he fights it, Taris slowly transforms into an eagle over time. We find out that he was naturally gifted with the magic of transforming into animals but due to the curse, he could not transform into anything but an eagle. Lark begins to be dismayed that her husband disappears for longer and longer amounts of time and is becoming more bird like. When she realizes that she cursed him as a child, she breaks the spell by speaking the word backwards. BUT! There is a huge problem with this.
“I could command beasts, but I could not compel the Gifted.”
This one quote destroys the whole premise of the novel. Towards the end, a character named Lady Firi, who has the same gift as Taris, is trying to attack Lark in the form of a panther. Lark says she cannot use her magic against Firi because Firi is gifted. By this logic, Lark should have never been able to compel Prince Taris (who is GIFTED) to become an eagle and to stunt his magical abilities. Thus, the whole book felt ruined due to this major inconsistency in the plot.
3) The plot was extremely predictable. I had guessed that Lark had cursed the prince from almost the very beginning and I also predicted that the evil King Zoltev had in fact not died, but become the bad guy “Legion” before even half of the book was finished.
This is one of those books where it pains me to give it such a rating but I cannot give it higher due to the inherent underlying problems listed above. I do not regret reading the novel and would still recommend it because it truly was beautiful and diverting even if it had some serious issues.