Title: Who Lives by the Sword
Author: Amy Lemco
Released: 13 August 2016
Favorite Quote: “She treated gossip like wool; gathered her sheep and sheared them, carded the information, spun, and peddled it to anyone interested – Faith had been pricked by her spindle more than once.”
Before I begin this reader reaction, I’d like to say that I received this novel from the author to review. However, I will give an honest opinion of the book.
The beginning of Who Lives by the Sword really took me a bit to get into. I sat on the eleventh page for several days before I actually got myself back into reading it. Not only was the introduction of the characters confusing, but it seemed to jump into the middle of the story on the first page. (After reading the novel in full, I can tell you that it becomes clear why she chose to open like this and I wouldn’t have preferred it any other way. So if you choose to read Who Lives by the Sword and are a bit put off by the first couple chapters, keep reading – it gets better very quickly.) By the third chapter, I fell in love with the story. Even though it isn’t typically what I read (since it’s historical fiction), Amy Lemco’s novel was truly a delight to read! I read the majority of the book in one night and the only reason I had to put it on hold was because my eyes were blurring in the wee hours of the morning. Immediately after waking up a few hours later, the first thing that I did was finish the book.
So what are my thoughts? It’s an enchanting, quick read that had butterflies in my stomach from the tension that Lemco built in the relationship between Faith MacDolwyn and Niall Dubhain. I couldn’t help but imagine that if Colleen Hoover had written Outlander, it would have been a bit like this – a very good thing. Although Niall Dubhain is a bit of the stereotypical Scottish warrior with a dark and stand-offish disposition, it worked. Faith MacDolwyn is a sweet girl with a kind heart. Yes, that’s a rather non-committal description, but she’s better to just read in the book than to read a description of. By far, my favorite character has to be Faith’s overly-protective brother who seems to perfectly contrast with Niall in the family department. Although the characters all seem to have just the one surface layer upon first glance at the story, the developments later in the book really crack a few of them open to deepen not just the story but my enjoyment of reading it.
What did bother me a bit were the formatting and grammatical errors that did make some passages difficult to get through. I’m not much of a stickler when it comes to errors, but some blatant mistakes really did having me backing off from the page for a second to sort through what it was supposed to be. This is not necessarily a huge thing for most people, I think; however, I choose to include a small passage on it because it did put a halt on the flow of the story and really bring me out of my reading rhythm. Again, these occurred in very few spots.
The story, despite being light and character-based, was enjoyable. Highlander/lowlander love. Status versus lack thereof. Lifestyle clashes. Assimilation. Judgmental society. Really, Amy Lemco’s novel has many facets that make this Scottish romantic novel an enthralling read that absorbs the reader in both the realistic dialogue and historical accuracy through which she tells the story. I may or may not have expected war, which was how the novel opened. I won’t give away much of the plot, but I’ll say that as a reader who shies away from war, I was pleased with the lack of gore. However, that does not mean that diplomatic relations and the ruling hierarchy are avoided. In fact, Lemco fuses those ideas throughout the novel by spinning a tale in which love in affected by not just one but all.
To sum it up, it was a very sweet story that I was pleasantly surprised by. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants a stand alone novel to let them step into another time and culture. From the characters to the traditions, I thoroughly enjoyed Amy Lemco’s Who Lives by the Sword.