(Cover picture courtesy of Goodreads.)
Seventeen-year-old Ciardis has grown up in poverty, a cleaner in a small vale on the outskirts of the kingdom. But beneath her kingdom’s seemingly idyllic surface lies a hidden secret. Whispers of an inept crown Prince are growing ever louder—intensified by the five year anniversary of the soulbond initiations.
Amidst scandalous whispers, Ciardis finds herself chosen to train for the Companion’s Guild. She leaves her home and sets off on a personal journey to become a Court Companion. A position she’d never thought possible for a lowly servant to obtain, she must prove that she has the skills to attract a Patron.
But she must master those skills quickly. If the legends are true, only Ciardis can harness the power to raise a Prince in an Imperial Court sworn to bring him down.
[Full disclosure: I received a free ebook from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]
Sworn to Raise had so much potential. It could have been one of the best books of the year for me, yet it fell flat in some respects. Terah Edun’s fantasy world was absolutely amazing, Ciardis was a pretty good character and the plot was exciting and believable and yet…there was something lacking.
I can’t say it lacked heart, because it really didn’t. But what I think Terah Edun did here was try to cram too much information into only 176 pages. A lot happens in Sworn to Raise in a very short time and it’s exciting, but it’s at the expense of detail. Detail is everything in fantasy because the books take place either in an alternate Earth or a completely different fictional universe. Detail helps us understand the universe, but also get to know the characters and generally find our way around. Sadly, Sworn to Raise did not have enough detail because Terah Edun seemed to shy away from descriptive passages. Too much description is boring, but too little and you get confused. I wasn’t confused all of the time, but there’s still sort of that rushed atmosphere throughout the whole book that I really didn’t appreciate. This book should have been at least 300 pages and even that would be pushing it.
Despite the rushed atmosphere, I did enjoy Sworn to Raise. Ciardis is an interesting character who tries her best to raise herself from her lowly station in life—even if it means joining the Companion’s Guild. While in training, she discovers who she really is and who she wants to be, making a few friends along the way. Her decision at the end of the book wasn’t surprising per se, but it was satisfying because in the beginning Ciardis would have chosen otherwise. Her character arc is fascinating, but a bit rushed because of the insane pace of the plot.
Terah Edun’s fantasy world is fascinating and generally stays away from the tropes you often find in fantasy. There are a couple of tropes, but she put her own twist on them and made the plot pretty unpredictable. Some of the plot twists completely blindsided me—something that doesn’t happen often in fantasy. Yet, the rushed feel just didn’t do it for me. I like a fast plot, but sometimes it’s okay to slow down and let your readers catch their collective breath. Will I be continuing the series, though? Absolutely! Terah Edun has a great premise here and I think her writing will only improve with time.
I give this book 4/5 stars.