Saturday, August 13, 2011

Review: The Seer and the Sword

AUTHOR: Victoria Hanley
SERIES: Healer and Seer, book 1  
PUBLISHER: Laurel Leaf    
PUBLICATION DATE: December 28, 2000 
ISBN:  9780440229773
PAGES: 352
SOURCE: My library 
GENRE: Fantasy/romance  
OVERALL RATING: Highly recommended
SUMMARY:  When King Kareed of Archeld conquers Bellandra, he brings home two gifts to his young daughter Torina: a crystal and a slave. The crystal enables Torina to see cryptic visions of the future. The slave is Landen, the son of the conquered king. As Torina and Landen grow older, they secretly become close friends until a tyrant threatens their friendship, their kingdom, and their freedom.

WHAT I LIKED:  I read and loved The Seer and the Sword about ten years ago when it appeared on the Texas Lone Star Reading List. As a librarian ten years later, I have tried many times since to promote it to my students, but I couldn't remember the story well enough to really do it justice; all I remembered is that I really loved the story.

Every school year, I select 10-15 books to add to the Lone Star list for my students to read for a district-wide reading incentive. I decided to add The Seer and the Sword this year, and I reread it so I remember it clearly.

I loved this book years ago, and I still love it. With plenty of action, romance, and tension, it's just SUCH a well-told story that will keep readers turning pages. I can't imagine anyone not loving this book, even if they are not huge readers of the fantasy genre. Readers will root for Torina and Landen, both privileged children of kings, both teens forced into exile. The story spans about nine years of their lives as both grow in strength, wisdom, and character. This book is one of my all-time favorite YA reads; if you haven't read it, what are you waiting for?

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: Such a great book; such a TERRIBLE front cover! Torina looks crazy and evil on the cover, which is not at all the case. I know for a fact that the red-haired girl on the cover definitely keeps boys from checking it out. Two different boys at my school (who read and loved it) told me that they were embarrassed by the cover and tried to keep it hidden as best as they could.

I'm sure there are reviewers out there who will criticize the writing style of The Seer and the Sword, and I will give it to them that Hanley's writing style (particularly the italicized "thinking moments" that appear throughout) can be a little disjointed at times. To those critics, however, I have one thing to say--who cares? The Seer and the Sword is just plain engrossing and fun--storytelling at its best.

  • Language: none
  • Sexuality: mild--some kissing
  • Violence: mild-medium--some murders and attempted murders, sword fighting
  • Drugs/Alcohol: mild; one character becomes unknowingly addicted to sedatives; adults get drunk and pass out

STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: We have it, and I am ordering additional copies since I am adding it to our Lone Star Plus this year. I have recommended this book to many, many students and teachers. The ones who check it out come back raving about it. The problem is the terrible front cover, which I believe deters many students from experiencing the book's greatness. So sad. I have plans to re-cover my library copies with a removable plain black cover.

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