Title: The Bird and the Sword
Author: Amy Harmon
Publisher: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
Release Date: May 11th 2016
In a land where those with extraordinary abilities are feared, Lark’s mother did the only thing she could to protect her daughter from the wrath of the king: she took away her ability to speak. Once able to command objects to obey her with mere words, Lark has grown up without her mother to protect her, trapped inside herself, and guarded by a father who resents the bond his wife bestowed between the two of them. Years have passed since Lark’s mother was so cruelly killed in front of her by King Zoltev, but with his passing, a new king has ruled over Jeru. King Tiras fights a two-front war. On one side, the kingdom is slowly being invaded by Volgar, winged creatures with no conscience, bent on killing everyone in their path. On the other, Tiras battles the legacy of his father, one which showed little mercy to those Gifted in magic. His method of dealing with the Gifted is viewed as neglectful compared to his father’s and there is no shortage of lords who think they can rule better in his stead. Lark soon finds herself in the midst of political machinations and at the forefront of a war that seems impossible to win.
Though the daughter of a Lord, Lark is easily overlooked. Unable to speak, Lark is largely ignored or seen as meek and submissive. Harmon does a fantastic job of giving defiance and strength to a character unable to voice her opinion. While words are shown to have great power in this story, sometimes it is what you don’t say that has more power. But Lark is also a fragile creature, she has learned that people will not hesitate to use her. While her mother took away her voice in order to protect her, her father made it impossible for her to learn to read or write in order to control her. Still, Lark is brave and kind in a way that is hard to ignore and it isn’t long before King Tiras takes note.
Tiras wants nothing more than to be rid of his ailment which grows worse with each passing day. He takes Lark to his castle in order to ensure her father’s loyalty in the war against the Volgar, but soon realizes that he does not have a compliant prisoner on his hands. The chemistry between these two was at times palpable. There is a battle of wills that goes beyond words and I loved how Harmon develops different facets to their relationship. Neither is willing to show themselves entirely to the other; while Lark is held back by her fear of being used, Tiras is chained to the secrets he isn’t quite ready to give up. Their lives are irrevocably changed by the other and while both have the power to help the other, the also have the power to destroy.
Amy Harmon’s The Bird and the Sword is a beautifully written fantasy about prejudice, possibilities, the strength of one woman in a world that has cast her aside.