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Healer and Seer #1

The Seer and the Sword

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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 to be 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 plot's against the king's life. Fingers point to Landen, but Torina cannot believe he would harm her or her family. Can she use her new found powers to save her beleaguered kingdom? Or must the seer take up the sword?

341 pages, Hardcover

First published April 21, 2000

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Victoria Hanley

19 books262 followers

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5 stars
4,747 (44%)
4 stars
3,295 (30%)
3 stars
1,940 (18%)
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458 (4%)
1 star
195 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 551 reviews
Profile Image for Michaela Keil.
14 reviews3 followers
March 9, 2011
All right, I won't lie: I honestly have no idea how "good" this book is. This, to me, is pure nostalgia, with a dtwist of soul-food. Every time I read it again (frequent) attempting to determine the book's true "quality", I'm swept away by waves of love. Given the other ratings it's garnered, I suppose it must actually be well written. I'm glad, but I don't really care. This was the very first book of a significant length I read and was the first 'real' I'd ever owned (I think it was a prize from the library?) and I devoured it. Any cliches or shallow characters are invisible to me now. It was my first, what can I say? Honestly, if I had to choose an all-time favorite book (please don't make me) I'd probably say this one, just because it launched me into a lifetime of reading. So thank you, Ms. Hanley. You're awesome.
1 review
December 23, 2012
This book was one of my favorite books as a young adult. I loved the everything about it, the storyline, the writing, the characters, the prose. I remember poring over the pages, even to the point where I memorized a few passages. Not being a person who tends to read books or watch movies over again, I remember reading this book at least a good five times in my life. I even found this in audio format after I grew up, and listened to it again.

Everything about the story was so perfect and full of imagination. The mental images I retained from reading the book stuck in my mind for many years. The story of Torina and Landen was so compelling and so real that it was easy feel the wonder of their childhood friendship, the confusion of their young adult years, and then the heartbreak of their life apart as they grew into the people that they would become.

The book read like a real fairy tale with scenes reminiscent of the matches of ancient Roman gladiators, to the solid stone castle of English lords, to frigid mountain ranges like the pyranees. The plot never bored me and the story never grew old. And the characters were created with such love, that one could feel what they were feeling and sense their love, disappointment, frustration, or exultation.

One of the best books of my childhood memories.
Profile Image for Alisa.
777 reviews37 followers
April 22, 2008
King Kareed conquers Bellandra and brings his daughter, Torina, two prizes from the war: a crystal ball and the son of the conquered king, Landen. He gives Landen to Torina as a slave, but Torina frees him. Torina witnesses the murder of her father and has to run away to save her life. Landen also has to run away because he is accused of the murder. They live under false names and both become valuable to the high king, Dahmis. Dahmis unknowingly reunites Landen and Torina.

I can't say any more without giving the whole book away. This is a well-written book that was fun to read. There are two other books written by the same author: "The Healer's Keep" and "The Light of the Oracle." Of the three, this one was my favorite. The books don't have to be read in any particular order.
Profile Image for Tammie.
1,324 reviews155 followers
August 25, 2016
The Seer and the Sword is one of my favorite YA fantasies. I enjoyed reading the way the two characters fell in love. It was one of those stories that could be romantic without all of the kissing.

I've never been a huge fan of the love at first sight type romances that are so prevalent in books. Although they can be fun to read (and I've read my fair share), they generally seem to lack some substance. In this story we get to see and understand how and why they love each other, and it happens over a span of several years. I think the growth of characters is what I love so much about this book.

I do wish that some things had been filled in that were left out. There are some periods of time that are skipped over and I could have done with more scenes with Torina and Landen together, but I think it’s amazing how the author is able to convey their love for each other to the reader without a lot of that.

It’s been several years since I’ve read this and because I loved it so much (and enjoyed the two companion books as well), every now and then I will check and see if Victoria Hanley has written anything new. So far there are only a couple of fairy books. I’m not all that interested in reading the fairy books, but I dearly wish she would write another fantasy like this one.
Profile Image for Kathy.
2,051 reviews589 followers
May 28, 2022

I was so excited to see this was finally available on kindle! I first read this and fell in love with it probably over 12 years ago. It has a fun plot, likable characters and was just a fun read. I admit though, reading it again it just wasn't as great as I had remembered, maybe my tastes have changed?

The book spans about a ten year period, opening when our heroine I just a little girl. Her father, the king, has just returned home from war, bringing with him the son, Landen, of the king he just defeated. Torina and Landen secretly become friends, but as they get older they grow apart. Life taking them in different directions.

Torina has a rare ability of a Seer, with the aid of her crystal she can see the future and past. When her evil fiancé finds out of this gift he is set on making her his slave, and taking over the kingdom. With quick wit she is able to escape and goes into hiding. Meanwhile, her childhood friend Landen also goes on the run for being falsely accused of killing Torina’s father, King Kareed.

I didn't remember this from previous reads, but Torina and Landen have barely any page time together. Where was the romance???? It plays a very small role in the story and I wish that had been more front and center. I really would have liked to see them together more. I still enjoyed the book and read it in one sitting, but didn't quite love it as much as I had in the past. I'd still recommend it to anyone who likes YA fantasy, its a fun read and I still think it would make a good movie.

Content Rated PG
Romance: Very mild
Language: None
Violence: Mild-Moderate

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Profile Image for laurel [the suspected bibliophile].
1,423 reviews395 followers
December 18, 2018
When King Kareed of Archeld invades the peaceful city of Bellandra and takes home its prince as his prisoner, he unwittingly sets off a chain reaction of events that will ripple through the years, leaving his daughter, Torina, and the Bellandran prince caught in the cross-hairs.

Deception. Politics. Trickery. Honor. And Love.

Oh my!

This is an old favorite. I've resisted rereading it for years because I wasn't sure how well it would hold up, particularly against the wave of phenomenal MG and YA fantasy books out there.

To be fair, the writing is clunky, stilted and simplistic. The plotline is super fast, with years passing in a sentence and a lot happening. Seriously. A shit ton happens in this book—most of it rapidly unfolding in the last half. There are plot holes galore. There's little diversity. There's some super creepy icky romance shit between an almost thirty-year-old and a fifteen-year-old

And yet.

The magic of this book once again swept me off my feet. I was pulled into this magical world as the writing—sparse and simplistic as it is—portrayed entire countries and palaces and mountains in a few words that take some authors paragraphs.

It reminds me of the wonders of old school high fantasy without any of the downfalls, where good battles evil and evil is a clever and handsome creepy dude.

I still love the twisty turny nature of the plot, the evilness of Vesputo (if you think he's far-fetched in what he gets away with, lemme just let you take a peek at this month's newspaper), how many little clues and series of events and characters weave together to tell the story of an arrogant princess and a former prince—as they grow, change, are forced apart, and find each other once again.

And I love the cover, drawn by my absolute favorite children's artist of all time, Trina Schart Hyman.

It's childhood nostalgia in all its best forms.

I wish more people knew about and loved this book as much as I do.
183 reviews
October 12, 2016
This was recommended to me a very long time ago by someone who'd read a little of my second novel and said I might like this.

A very long time ago, I may have liked this. I certainly see it was likened it to my second novel. The difficulty is, all the parts that are similar are parts I cut in the epic rewriting of that second novel.

Essentially, this book is your standard kid's fantasy adventure novel. It's very, very standard. Most of the characters have only one note (evil, innocent, stoic, wise, kind etc) and they play up to those notes perfectly. There's a reasonable amount of political talk, but it's all simplistic and the reader is fully aware of who's going to back-stab whom. The plot line itself is predictable and feels vaguely familiar.

The characters didn't particularly stand out for me. Many of them just kind of accepted horrible things happening to them, and only later would they fight. They also didn't question anything, which made my eyes roll repeatedly. I guess that's at the heart of my apathy for this story. The events just felt like pre-ordained things happening to people (even when the seer was changing the future, it was clear she was meant to change it). I never felt like these characters were more than just cardboard puppets being danced around.

The setting was very standard too. Classic stories like this can be dramatically improved by a bit of imagination in the setting, the magic, the creatures. This is pretty much just standard "medieval" fantasy, with no interesting creatures, and only the vaguest hint of magic in the form of a crystal ball that shows the future when it's plot-convenient, and a sword that apparently makes the wielder indestructible unless they're using it for conquest. The crystal ball gets a lot of play but little explanation, and the sword just kind of acts like a magical thingamabob that everyone wants. No one ever uses its power.

The writing is what I consider a very basic style. There isn't a great deal of description, still less done in an interesting way. The feelings of the characters are "told" to us quite a lot. The point of view is third person omniscient and zooms around lots of characters. We don't benefit from the coloured perspective you get with third person limited, so it's all rather impersonal. I definitely felt like I was being told a story, rather than witnessing it.

I can't get too annoyed about books like this, but sometimes I wonder if I should. Fantasy has a reputation of being cliché and derivative and generally about nondescript fantasy kingdoms with inexplicable magic. Most days I think that reputation is monstrously unfair because there's so much innovation and complexity in the genre. Other days I fall across books like this, which aren't bad, specifically, they're just ... nothing special. Probably the vast majority of fantasy is like this, but I'm really good at picking outstanding books so I tend to forget about these others. I find these disappointing because it wouldn't take much to elevate it from "standard" to "good" or even interesting. One outstanding character. A quirky detail in the setting. Prose that oozes personality. They're not too hard to achieve, and they make books memorable.

Anyway, I think this would be a reasonable book for an older child who cannot be stopped from consuming every book in the vicinity and just needs more reading material. Otherwise, there are plenty of books that do everything better than this one.
Profile Image for Natalie.
2,456 reviews54 followers
February 7, 2021
2019 reread -

love the romance, love the story, love the characters. Basically I love this book!

**reread for book scavenger hunt - a favorite book from your childhood**

Original Review -

This is one of my favorite YA fantasy novels that I read over and over again growing up. It was the first book that really made me interested in fantasy.

It's so well done. It has everything - action and adventure, romance, political machinations, hints of magic, and a great cast of characters. I love Torina. She really grows up over the course of the novel. Landen is great too. He's strong and smart but also values peace rather than fighting. The secondary characters are really good too.

Overall a really well done YA fantasy. I was very sad when I finished reading it - I didn't want it to end!
Profile Image for Burn.
207 reviews
November 20, 2014

I was entranced and excited. It was a WOW. It felt like you were drowning and being pulled in their world. The plot was awesome and everything was properly displayed. There was so much excitement and thrill. The characters were plenty and all of them were portrayed well: their actions, cleverness, emotions, thoughts; they were interesting and amusing.

War, love, cruelty, kings, princes and princesses, politics, poisons, death, betrayal and treachery, loyalty, bravery and hope.

This has it all.
Recommended to everyone.
Profile Image for T.A..
Author 13 books64 followers
December 24, 2021
This was one of my absolute favorite books as a young teen, and the paperback I have sitting on my shelf shows a lot of wear from being read more times than I can remember. I've been wanting to reread it for several years and finally just dove in. It was a fun reread, but a little bittersweet. There were certain parts that I had a very distinct memory of and a strong emotional reaction to because of how much I enjoyed this book when I was younger, but as a whole, it just was not as good as I once thought it was. Part of me wants to rate it at least 4 stars just because of nostalgia, but if I'm being honest about how I view it now, it's a 3 star read for me.

The good:
* I love Torina as a character. She is a bit of a cliche for the genre--a fiery and headstrong princess who isn't interested in girly princess things. But she's delightful and was so relatable to me because of that when I was a young teen, and I still love her. I also liked Landen, our other main character and Torina's love interest. In a world full of morally gray characters, it's really nice sometimes to read about the noble and honorable ones who won't compromise their morals for anything. Some of the side characters were also really memorable, including the trainer Emid and high king Dahmis.
* The pacing is really tight and the story moves along at a quick pace. Sometimes too quick, but considering the amount of time we're covering in this book, it's pretty impressive that the author was able to pace everything so well.
* The dialogue is really good in some places, and there are so many great quotable lines that are heartfelt and even inspiring. A bit on the nose, maybe, but again, sometimes it's nice to read a story that tries to be and is just unabashedly wholesome.

The not-so-good
* I found that my biggest issue with the book upon reread was that there's not much depth. Not in the worldbuilding, not in the plot, not in the magic, not in the characters. Some of the characters feel more fleshed out than others, but at the end of the day, they're all pretty shallow and I wanted more from them.
* There's a complete lack of subtlety or subtext in everything with this book. Characters' emotions are always explicitly spelled out rather than inferred or being shown, we are often told what is happening rather than seeing it play out before us in the narrative, characters communicate very openly with each other even when they don't have much of a relationship to justify that level of trust, and so on.
* So much of the plot hinges on little contrivances or conveniences that cheapen the stakes and the characters' agency. Things just happen to work out a certain way either to further the plot or to resolve problems for the protagonists.
* As far as antagonists go, Vesputo has to be one of the least compelling and most cliche villains I've ever seen in a book. He's basically a power-hungry, mustache-twirling murderer whose plots could have been foiled half a dozen times throughout the story if anyone around him would have had a modicum of sense or backbone. But you know, we can't have that, because then we'd have no plot.
* There were also a few things that were kind of gross and/or problematic that just weren't addressed or that were written in a way that it was like we were supposed to accept and be okay with them. Things I didn't pick up on at all when I was a kid but that made me cringe a little upon rereading.

I think at the end of the day, I've just outgrown this book. Which is kind of sad, because I really wanted to love it again when I reread it, but there was just a lot that didn't work for me anymore.. Instead I will have to be content with loving it for what it represents and for what it meant to me during a particular chapter of my life that has since ended.
Profile Image for Esosa Kolawole.
Author 5 books30 followers
January 26, 2019
I love books about seers, I just don't know why. Maybe it's because the main character in my book is a seer too. A nice story line.
Profile Image for Margaret.
1,029 reviews331 followers
April 29, 2010
Princess Torina is the seer, who glimpses visions in a crystal given to her by her father, the king of Archeld, who wrested it from the conquered kingdom of Bellandra. Along with the crystal, the king took Bellandra's legendary sword and hid it -- but he also took the prince of Bellandra, Landen, who longs to recover the sword and his kingdom. Eventually, Torina's fate is woven with Landen's, as her kingdom is endangered as well and they must turn to the high king, Dahmis of Glavenrell, for help.

Unfortunately, for a story that's full of political intrigue, the worldbuilding isn't quite deep enough to sustain interest; the many kingdoms are sketchily detailed, and there's little sense of their history or culture, which makes the interactions between them less compelling than it should be. On the plus side, Hanley has created several very engaging characters -- the bold Torina and the thoughtful Landen are an interesting couple, as she learns wisdom through the crystal and he learns to take action, and many of the supporting characters are nicely sketched out as well.

This is Hanley's first novel, and she's written at least one more in the same world; The Seer and the Sword was promising enough that I'll seek out the second book in the hopes of a little more worldbuilding and the same good characterization.
56 reviews3 followers
October 29, 2008
I read this book a while ago, but I loved it so much I still enjoy rereading it. The main protagonist is Torina, a rebellious young girl whose father is a conquerer of land. Upon conquering the peaceful neighboring country of Bellandra, he gives his daughter two presents which both turn out to be more precious than anything: a round crystal, in which she sees the future, and the ex-prince, Landen, as a slave. Torina instantly frees Landen, who is having trouble adjusting to living under the rule of his father's murderer. Though Torina and Landen form a bond of friendship, circumstance cools that over the years. When a plot is revealed to kill Torina's father, Landen flees, worried he will become the main suspect. Torina witnesses her father's death and escapes his murderer's clutches. While Landen forms a name for himself, Torina learns what it's like to not be a princess. Seperately, they both work with the high king for peace among the countries. This book is such a wonderful combination of action, romance, humor and drama that there is no chance of getting bored. Seriously. Read it.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Berfin.
27 reviews10 followers
December 5, 2020
Honestly, this was a tough read. For the sake of the small surprises along the way and wanting to see how things would unravel, I gave it the benefit of the doubt and kept reading, thinking it would pick up but it really wasn't for me. So many elements ended up with no actual use, including one of the main characters who basically had no role in the story, and the whole thing felt quite cliched. 2,5 at best.
Profile Image for Rachel.
1 review2 followers
July 28, 2008
This probably one of my most favorite books ever!
Profile Image for R.J. Rodda.
Author 4 books58 followers
July 5, 2017
A really enjoyable book that I've read a number of times about two children, one whose father kills the other, becoming friends and more.
Profile Image for Maureen E.
1,137 reviews50 followers
September 29, 2010
by Victoria Hanley

Opening line--"In the castle of Archeld, Queen Dreea sat at her loom."

Sometimes I go through Amazon's recommendations page, just to see what they think I would like. Every so often something catches my eye and I put it on the TBR list. That was the case with this one.

From the front flap: "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."

Overall, I felt like Hanley took what could have been a fairly stereotypical fantasy and somehow made it feel like it had integrity. There were some very interesting and nuanced characters, as well as a pretty standard baddie. I did feel like I never got a real sense of what distinguished the different countries. Oh, sure, Archeld is warlike while Bellandra is full of art and peace. But what about the smaller, everyday things--language and food and dress? I do really wish that authors would think about these things more often. Still, despite a couple of eye-roll moments (of course Torina has red hair and green eyes), the story felt engaging.

I did notice some fairly clunky writing, however, which definitely pulled me out of the flow. I'm not finding a specific example at the moment and I think it did even out as the book progressed. PW says it's for ages 12 up, and I felt like it was in some ways because Hanley was trying to write for a younger audience and wasn't quite sure how to do it. Just as a final note--there is a LOT of death in this book, more than I would have expected for that age group.

Book source: public library
Book information: Holiday House, 2000
7 reviews
March 17, 2012
I've read this story many times and each time I am reminded just how much I love this book. I like books that make me feel something. Whether it makes me happy or sad or angry, if it makes me feel something, I have a stronger reaction to the story. Bonus if the story makes me feel all of the above. And this story always does. There are times while reading this story that I am just so angry that I want to throw the book across the room and be done but I love he story too much for that.

At the beginning of the book, Torina is a young, spoiled princess who is given two presents from her father King Kareed; a crystal, which she soon discovers shows her the future, and a young boy to be her slave, who she quickly sets free and who becomes her best friend. The young boy was the prince of the country that Kareed had just conquered. The story follows their lives as they deal with exile and war and separation. They each go their separate ways but their lives mirror each other.

I love the interaction between Torina and Landen. I love how strong and fiery Torina is and how strong and noble Landen is. The characters are what makes the story for me. Every character in the story, you get to know and like for what they are. Even the antagonists are deliciously evil.

Definitely a story that will always be a favorite.
Profile Image for Krystle.
893 reviews337 followers
November 29, 2009
Woo, I finished this. Here’s another sweet, traditional, straight-up fantasy for the young adult audiences. The characters are a bit one dimensional but that doesn’t make them less likable because they were easy to get along with and didn’t have any overly annoying vices that made you want to rip your hair out.

A lot of the story’s plot or make up of it uses a lot of clichés but as they say, it’s how you write them that counts the most. And Victoria Hanley’s writing, while rough around the edges, is quick and snappy, dealing out pretty descriptions that make her world come to life. In the beginning it was quite a slow read, but as the plot unfolds, it begins to grab your interest with more and more ferocity.

The big part of the hook came when we are introduced to another character, which I’m sure was not meant to be thought of as a rival for Princess Torina’s affections, but I spun a love triangle out of them anyway. Then the big woosh to the end had me riveted. The battle was fantastic, well thought out, and swift. It didn’t drag on too long, nor did it become overly redundant.

For the most part, there isn’t a lot of violence/blood shed in this book, so it’s okay to read for the younger teens. A nice read but nothing deep or unique brought to the genre.
Profile Image for Leigh.
100 reviews15 followers
December 4, 2021
Absolutely loved this book when I was younger.

It's quite a simple story and very easy to read and moved along at a fast pace.

That being said, it touches on some quite serious issues. Such as the building of Empires, being passive in a violent world, bullying, the kindness of strangers, loyalty, second chances, etc.

It's by no means the most in depth story I have read, but it's a nice easy read and it's a story that has always stayed with me.

The story follows a princess called Torina, who is given a prince of a similar age to her after her father destroys his kingdom. We then follow the pair of them until adulthood and the challenges they face.
Profile Image for Tatiana.
1,401 reviews11.7k followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
October 17, 2010
I might come back to this one later. Nothing wrong with it really, just a standard YA fantasy for younger teens. Don't feel like reading anything that won't get a rating of more than 3 stars just now.
Profile Image for Caitriona Riding.
61 reviews2 followers
January 20, 2022
Wow, just re-read this in a day. Still such a good fantasy!! Not the least bit disappointed or underwhelmed with this favorite from my childhood. Read it. Just read it.
Profile Image for Karla.
7 reviews
April 24, 2019
4.8 It reminds me of some of my fave childhood books. Good good-guys, evil villains, chases, escapes, true love, miracles...no rodents of unusual size, though ;) Read it!
Profile Image for Sophie.
66 reviews2 followers
April 7, 2021
Oh my gosh. This book made me feel like I was 11 again reading Tamora Pierce books in the backseat of the car on a road trip. Really fun.
Profile Image for Barbara.
270 reviews13 followers
March 20, 2023
So glad it’s over. This book reads like a summary of a ten book epic written by a teenager who doesn’t know how to summarise. The story itself is not bad, but the way it’s told leaves a lot to be desired. Everything, in fact.

The characters are all extremely stupid, or at least appear to be because their decisions, or shall I say their motivations for their decisions, get practically no screen time. The dialogue is abominable. And the prose provides only cursory descriptions of the surroundings. This leaves gaping plot holes all over the place while the narrative takes an increasingly absurd path through them. A battle is thrown in at the end for absolutely no narrative purpose with an enemy that doesn’t feature anywhere else in the story. Also, travelling from place to place seems to take no time at all and even less effort, except for when Torina leaves Archeld alone and without provisions. There’s a teensy bit of description there, I suppose to address how utterly unbelievable it is for a pampered adolescent princess to suddenly traverse hundreds of miles of open land by herself without food, while being tracked and snowed on, and not come to grief.


This book is meant for kids, and I’m a grown up so I kept thinking I should cut it some slack. I read it because when I was a kid I found the sequel in the library and read it. I always wondered what the first one had been about so when I found it at a second-hand shop I bought it. Now that I’ve read it, and forced myself to finish it, I have my answer. This book is a dud. There’s better fare out there, even for kids.
Profile Image for ReadForDessert.
214 reviews25 followers
March 19, 2022
Non so fino a che punto sarò obiettiva recensendo questo romanzo, perché è stato uno dei tesori della mia infanzia/adolescenza.

La storia gira attorno a Thorina, figlia del re conquistatore Kareed, e Lando, principe del caduto regno di Bellandra: entrambi sono personaggi indomiti e coraggiosi destinati ad un futuro pieno di sfide e pericoli.

Una piccola perla del fantasy per ragazzi, con un pizzico di romance e tanta, tanta avventura.
Profile Image for Bren.
98 reviews
October 6, 2020
I love how the stories of both main characters are developed, together and separately, and how they show that mercy is a strength, not a weakness.

Both Torina & Landen are strong characters, and the book would appeal to middle-grade readers (or adults) of either gender, who like medieval-type adventure stories, with just a hint of magic.
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