The Seer and the Sword is written by Victoria Hanley. It was published in 2000 by Holiday House. Hanley’s website can be found here.
“Princess Torina lives a charmed life in the kingdom of Archeld. Then her father, King Kareed, seizes the peaceful kingdom of Bellandra—and its legendary sword, rumored able to defeat any enemy. On his return, he offers Torina two gifts: a beautiful crystal and the defeated king’s son, Landen, as a slave. Both prove to be more precious than she could ever imagine. For with them Torina makes two discoveries: She is a seer, able to glimpse the future in her crystal, and Landen is not a servant but a peer, a noble spirit who matches her in wits, humor, and character.
But all is not well in Archeld. Beneath the seemingly orderly surface lurk greed, revenge—and plots against the king’s life. Fingers point at Landen, but Torina cannot believe he would harm her or her family. Can she use her newfound powers to save her beleaguered kingdom? Or must the seer take up the sword?”
What I Liked:
The second part of the book was way better than the first. Fast pacing, decent action and suspense, heists, intrigue, mystery…a nice finish to the book.
The plot was fairly decent overall, although the worldbuilding was nothing special. I thought Torina’s character was interesting because Hanley made it appear as if she would be one of those rebel warrior princesses or something, but instead the focus is more on the dampening of her spirit rather than the fulfilling of it. She doesn’t form a band or shock everyone with her archery skills or whatever; she spends her time hiding in a cottage. Definitely not what I was expecting there. I mean, there is that one part with the archery at the very end, but the fact that she doesn’t spend the entire book doing things like that makes it even better, in my opinion, because it’s not the same tired trope as many other fantasy books.
What I Didn’t Like:
The writing was not that great; in fact, I almost stopped reading it about two chapters in (it did get better, or maybe the plot just got better so I could ignore the writing more). How do you glide from a horse’s back, anyway?
Talk about a deceptive blurb. “Must the seer take up the sword?” The sword in the title has nothing to do with the seer, and no, she doesn’t fight at all or even consider it. It’s Landen who has the fighting angst, not Torina.
I have to say, I rolled my eyes when at the very beginning Torina, at the tender age of nine, thought, “I can never live that way!” You’re nine years old, kid. Stop being so dramatic. Also, you’ve hardly developed anything at that age, much less a permanent goal or personality.
Did not like Irene, who’s all “I’m going to let the guard grope me because he’s handsome.” Um, no. No, no, no. Irene is also working with the bad guys, which makes it even worse (it’s the “All Bad Girls Are Promiscuous” trope, but I’m sorry, Bad Girls should not let themselves be treated that way).
Recommended Age Range: 16+
Warnings: Violence, death.
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
“Will you be glad to hear I’m leaving your kingdom?”
“Leaving Archeld? Why?”
He took her hand, rubbing the fingers. “Because there are rumors that say I’ll kill the king.”
Shock cleared her head. “Kill my father? Why?”
Landen’s chest heaved. “To avenge Bellandra.”
“But Landen,” she said. “That was so long ago.”
“I haven’t forgotten.”
Anna set to work. “My dear, we must at least know our name, or what will we call you?”
Torina considered. “Vineda. Call me Vineda.”
The Seer and the Sword has a decent plot, but it’s poorly developed in terms of worldbuilding and characterization. The writing is not that great, although I did get used to it near the end. It’s a very obvious trope fantasy and the characters are flat and one-dimensional. There’s the usual “oh no! Fighting and killing!” angst (not making light of the angst itself, just the trope, which I think is incredibly overused) and it’s simply a mediocre novel.
You can buy this book here: The Seer and the Sword