THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Swallow, Daughter, pull them in, those words that sit upon your lips. Lock them deep inside your soul, hide them ‘til they’ve time to grow. Close your mouth upon the power, curse not, cure not, ‘til the hour. You won’t speak and you won’t tell, you won’t call on heav’n or hell. You will learn and you will thrive. Silence, Daughter. Stay alive.
The day my mother was killed, she told my father I wouldn’t speak again, and she told him if I died, he would die too. Then she predicted the king would trade his soul and lose his son to the sky.
My father has a claim to the throne, and he is waiting in the shadows for all of my mother’s words to come to pass. He wants desperately to be king, and I just want to be free.
But freedom will require escape, and I’m a prisoner of my mother’s curse and my father’s greed. I can’t speak or make a sound, and I can’t wield a sword or beguile a king. In a land purged of enchantment, love might be the only magic left, and who could ever love . . . a bird?
The Bird and the Sword is immensely satisfying from beginning to end, giving us a heroine robbed of words on a beautifully-told journey to find them again amidst the backdrop of a sweeping fantasy epic.
Lark is a Teller, gifted with words that create a call to action when spoken, bringing to life inanimate objects, controlling animals, and healing when needed. After her mother's dying rhyme rips away her ability to speak, she's assumed to be deaf and dumb in addition to being mute, but we're treated to her innermost thoughts and feelings and therefore know she's as smart and strong as they come. She quickly finds herself a pawn in a game of politics, taken from her father and held as insurance to make sure he provides promised assistance to the young king in his war against the monstrous Volgar (vulture-like birdmen). She could have easily spent her days wallowing in self-pity for the position in which she finds herself – in a strange place and forced to be a weapon in the service of her king – but instead she does as she is asked with a quiet pride and a lick of defiance, one that brings a smile to our faces every time she wields it.
Her romance with King Tiras is of the slow burn variety, one with a start rooted in antagonism as she resents being made into the tip of a spear and hurled at the Vulgar with little care for anything other than her usefulness. Her feelings for Tiras seemingly develop quicker than his for her (though it takes her plenty of time to begin to see him in a romantic light), and she keeps those feelings close to her vest because she knows he's unlikely to return her affection. She is a means to an end for him, an ace up his sleeve in the war against an impossible enemy, and she protects her heart as best she can by defying him in the most perfect of ways when he proves to be too presumptuous.
Their story has my highest recommendation for all those who love apparent underdogs with unparalleled strength, love interests who challenge at every turn, and grand romances that share the spotlight with well-executed paranormal and political wars.