Yo, this is my first Rebeca Ross book, and I am sold. This book is something special that I adored from the first page. It has beautifully written characters, deep relationships, and a world that should feel tired but manages to stand out as something wonderful and fresh. Oh, and welcome to the blog tour for it! Many thanks to HarperTeen and FFBC Tours for the invite!
SISTERS OF SWORD AND SONG
by Rebecca Ross
432 pages | Expected publication: June 23rd 2020 | HarperTeen
ARC Courtesy of HarperTeen and FFBC
After eight long years, Evadne will finally be reunited with her older sister, Halcyon, who has been proudly serving in the queen’s army. But when Halcyon appears earlier than expected, Eva knows something has gone terribly wrong. Halcyon is on the run, hunted by her commander and charged with murder.
Though Halcyon’s life is spared during her trial, the punishment is heavy. And when Eva volunteers to serve part of Halcyon’s sentence, she’s determined to find out exactly what happened. But as Eva begins her sentence, she quickly learns that there are fates much worse than death.
This is a standalone set in a world of magic and political corruption, with two sisters at its core. I really liked the world building, especially since I wasn’t expecting it to be based on Ancient Greece. It is a story rich in lore and is easy to picture. Once upon a time, nine gods came down to live among the mortals. Gods that are very similar to ones we’ve heard of like Artemis and Hermes with abilities on a similar scale. Before they fled, they left behind relics that people hunt down to wield the magic within. Some families even have the blood of these gods in their veins, and lean heavily into it for their identities. One god, Kirkos, fell to earth and chose to stay, giving up his wings for love. It is this god that is considered lesser, and who our two main characters are descended from.
As one would expect from the title, this book follows two sisters: Evadne and Halcyon. I have no idea how to say either of their names out loud (I’m sorry) but I adore sister relationships when they’re as strong and loving as this. Both have a big part to play in this story, and I thought it was both well-done and highlighted each girl’s strengths beautifully.
🖊 Evadne is the younger of the two. She has always wanted to be something more, like a mage, and has some feelings toward her ancestor, Kirkos. How could he give up what he was for love? When her sister is sentenced to 15 years labour and imprisonment, Evadne volunteers to take on some of of her punishment. This is how she comes to work first as a servant to the family her sister wronged, then scribe to Damon, which I’ll describe later. I really enjoyed Evadne’s story. It seemed more interesting to me and I found her to be a more intriguing character than her sister.
🗡 Halcyon left home eight years ago to join the legions and become a fierce hoplite. However, when she first appears in this story, she is on the run for murdering her shield mate. When she is caught and handed down her sentence, she begins the first portion of it at a marble quarry. It is there that the story truly begins to unfold with one heck of a backstory and a whole lot of serious implications for why she did what she did.
There are some major political complexities and corruption in this story, but as the reader we are always on the fringes of it. Never quite in the thick of it. Essentially the queen is being controlled and passing laws that are out of character and damaging to her subjects, and the point of the story is to stop that from happening. It is not difficult to follow, but in being on the edge of it, some may find that the stakes aren’t all that high. I did feel that a little in some parts, but this was such a big adventure with more of a focus on sisterly love and magic that I didn’t mind.
Of all the magic found in this book, I really enjoyed the concept of mages. Namely how they are identified. See, mages are unable to write with their dominant hands. No matter what they write, the ink simply flies off the page. Thus why they hire on scribes, who can record their spells and letters and such. I thought it to be such a fun touch to this world!
I’m a firm believer standalones should have bittersweet endings. Almost all my favourites do, and this was no exception. There is a lot of loss, and a lot of change between characters, and it made that last chapter all the more wonderful and heartwarming.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rebecca Ross grew up in Georgia, where she continues to reside with her husband, lively dog and endless piles of books. She received her bachelor’s degree in English from UGA. In the past she has worked at a Colorado dude ranch, as a school librarian, and as a live-time captionist for a college.
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