Saturday, 19 May 2012

The Seer and the Sword by Victoria Hanley

Buy the book: Amazon US ; Amazon UK

This book discovered me one day some months ago. I say it discovered me because the book was hidden behind several others but somehow I unearthed it. Happy coincidence? Or did the book call out to me? From the synopsis, it all sounded very reminiscent of the books I read as a teen. Whatever actually pushed me to make the purchase, the book found itself part of my collection.

When I came to this book I’d just finished a few ebooks in a row and I really fancied a hard copy read before returning to ereads.

Title: The Seer and the Sword
Author: Victoria Hanley
Series: Healer and Seer #1
Publisher: Random House Children's Books

Target Audience: Teen / YA
Genre: Fantasy
Length: 352 pages

Story: Legend states that there exists a mighty sword that makes its possessor invincible to his enemies. But there is a curse on anyone who lifts the sword for conquest. King Kareed of Archeld goes after this sword anyway, winning it from the King of Bellandra. When he returns home from battle, he brings his daughter, Princess Torina, two special gifts. One is a unique crystal, in which she can view visions of the future. The other gift is the defeated king’s son Landen, who is to be her slave. Torina immediately releases Landen, who becomes a member of the King’s army and her close friend. 

But trouble is lurking in the kingdom of Archeld and people are accusing Landen of plotting against the King. Torina refuses to believe he would hurt her family. Then Torina begins seeing deadly visions in her crystal. Can she save her father’s life and the future of her kingdom?

Thoughts and impressions: When I started the book, I wasn’t entirely sure what age audience the author was targeting. Once I’d finished the book, I still wasn’t entirely sure! The writing suggests that it’s aimed at teens but the main characters start out as children and end up young adults. Moreover, the majority of the story takes place when the heroine is in her late teens, and the hero is in his early twenties.

The story spans about ten years of the characters’ lives. From the quote on the cover – “Lift the sword of adventure in the name of love!” – I expected a much stronger romance plot but really the two main characters spend relatively little time together. Despite their separation and the fact that one of them believes the other to be dead, they manage to fall in love with each other. So the romance definitely did not live up to my expectations. I would at least have liked to have seen more of the growth of their friendship to justify stronger feelings evolving. As it was, I felt that I was asked to take a lot on faith.

Speaking of faith, that’s another area where I felt that the story was let down. The author did an amazing job of bringing this fantasy world to life and then she just superimposed our world’s religious (Christian) beliefs on her invented world. Had she not wanted to invent her own religious customs for her world then she should have left religion out of it entirely. It was very jarring to read about God in a world that is not our own.

Apart from these two things, though, I really enjoyed the story. Princess Torina, the heroine, witnesses her father’s betrayal and murder by one of his most trusted but power hungry generals, Vesputo. Vesputo pins the blame on the orphaned son of one of the King’s previous conquests. Landon, aware that his life is in danger, leaves for a neighbouring kingdom while Torina wrestles with the truth of Vesputo’s character. Eventually she escapes her homeland as this evil man steals her kingdom.

The rest of the story focuses on how both Landon and Torina aid the king who is trying to unite all the lands in peace; in the meantime, Vesputo schemes to undermine this king’s plans while still trying to tie up the loose ends (Landon and Torina) of his own plans.

It was certainly a very interesting and enjoyable yarn. I think that it would probably appeal a lot to the younger side of the YA spectrum. I’d consider it 12+ maybe. It will, of course, also appeal to adults like me who enjoy a lighter fantasy tale. It’s one that I’ll be keeping to recommend to any children looking for a good second world fantasy. It’s one that I can quite imagine myself reading to my own children one day as my parents would read to us in the past.

I liked Torina. For a sheltered princess she was resourceful and determined to survive even if she did end up more or less retreating from life in order to do so. Landon, on the other hand, makes a difference with his actions, determined to remember the peaceful teachings of his youth no matter what is thrown his way. By pure chance both of them end up working for High King Dahmis. I kept hoping that they would come together sooner but the author kept me waiting. I think that it could have been better had they not been kept separated for so long though I understand why they were. It allowed both characters to explore important plot lines and to grow a lot.

Style: Fairly simple which was part of why I was so confused about the target audience. Despite this, it was good and definitely one that I would have enjoyed when I was younger.

Final verdict: A couple of problems but for the most part it was a highly enjoyable and well-plotted story. 4 stars

Extra notes: No swearing. No sex.


  1. The cover of this book is gorgeous. :) Thanks for the great review, Rea! I think I would enjoy this one.

  2. great review and that cover is so gorgeous and simple

    Le' Grande Codex

  3. Such a pretty cover. I can't believe this is YA-ish book and I've never heard of it!!! I kind of like the sound of it! I like when books are about royalty, kingdoms, and legends. It sounds like it has a great back story and a rich setting. I love these types of stories. Not a sappy romance, but an adventure of a sort. I don't particularly like reading about a book with religion in it, but if the author was going for old times, then Christianity makes sense. So yay for a new book!!! Thanks for the review!!!!

    Alyssa Susanna

  4. I really enjoyed this book. One of my favorite YA fantasies, really. Great adventure without overpowering magic. It's my favorite of Hanley's books.


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