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Review: ‘Sworn to Raise’ by Terah Edun

June 11, 2013

Sworn to Raise cover artSummary: Ciardis has lived all of her seventeen years in a small town away from the bustle of the capital. She spends her days laundering clothing and linens for a modest wage. Ciardis has few friends, but is mostly shunned for her different bloodline and unusual features. As she’s washing one day, an unusual customer visits the laundry. Spurred by the thought at making some extra money, Ciardis follows her . . . and gets the offer of a lifetime.

The stranger offers to sponsor Ciardis into the elite Companion’s Guild, an organization filled with highly-trained and unusual people who contract with wealthy or noble Patrons. Stunned, Ciardis takes the chance to have a different life and goes with the stranger.

Rough around the edges and believing herself to have no talents or gifts other than washing laundry, Ciardis feels out of place within the Guild. Political intrigues and personality differences play out on a large scale, and have a greater impact on Ciardis and her value to the Guild. Of utmost importance is that Ciardis find her value and what she can offer to the Guild to repay them for taking her in–but what gifts could a washer-woman possibly have?

Her gifts do more than repay the Guild. They attract Patrons to contract for her services. The better the Patron, the better the standing of the Guild, and the higher status and value the Companion holds. But if Cardis has little to offer to the Guild, what could she hope to offer to a Patron?

If she doesn’t find her gifts quickly and contract with a Patron, she could be kicked out of the Guild and sent home in shame. Can Ciardis find her worth in time and attract the best Patrons available to her?

My Thoughts: For the life of me, I can’t figure out how to pronounce the main character’s name!  And I’m a linguist!! My best guess is “CHAR-dis”, though I suppose it could also be said “CAR-dis”, “See-ARE-dis”, or “Key-ARE-dis”. I can’t tell. Not that it’s a huge deal, it’s just one of those minor quirks. I mean, I had no idea how to pronounce Hermione when Harry Potter came out! (But no Americans did, so I don’t feel so bad about that.)

The story is basically a rags-to-riches premise, with Ciardis rising from the obscurity and poverty of her laundress days to the status and power of a Companion. The Companions Guild grooms men and women to be Companions to the Patrons, who are usually nobility or other men or women with power and status and the money to afford Companions. Many Companions have magical abilities, but a few do not.

Ciardis makes for an intriguing character. She has fire and passion within her, but also doesn’t really seem to believe in herself very much. Once she makes the decision to join the Guild, she is sort of swept along by events and the new people in her life and I don’t think she ever really adjusts fully to the new life or really gets comfortable with it. Her frankness is wonderful and can make for some saucy and rambunctious dialogue that is very enjoyable.

Sebastian is probably my favorite character because he has the most contradictions and, in my opinion, complexity. It’s also refreshing that the male lead and potential romantic interest is younger than the female lead. His budding relationship with Ciardis is unusual and fascinating to read about. That really pulled me into the story and the main characters.

However, for all that I liked in this book, there are some things I don’t like. I felt that by the end, the events are too rushed together. I’m not sure if Edun was trying to give the impression of urgency by increasing the pace, or if maybe that’s just how it wrapped up for her, but I felt it was too rushed in the final chapters and ended rather abruptly.

I thought the characterization of some of the  other characters needed some more work. I would have liked to see more about some of the other trainee Companions with Ciardis, rather than just one or two. I thought more could have been done there. Also, the villain could have been fleshed out a little more. I felt that the villain was a surprise, which is great, but when the reasons for the villain’s actions are revealed, I felt it was a little bit flat.

Normally I don’t take away points for editing, because usually I focus on the plot, characters, etc. In other words, I tend to focus  more on the story rather than the mechanics. But in some cases, poor editing and proofreading allows mistakes to leak through. Sometimes, it’s too many mistakes and it takes the reader out of the story, especially when the mistakes are missing or misspelled words instead of a missing comma or period. I did receive a galley copy to review, so at first, I thought the mistakes were just because I was looking at a final draft (i.e., a galley). However, I looked at the preview on Amazon and found many of the same mistakes in the preview, which is the published version. If that is incorrect, someone please do let me know

By the way, the cover art is excellent and was what drew me to the book in the first place.

I do want to read the next book in the series, which I believe is due to come out later this year. I am interested enough in the story and the characters that I want to see where things go.

If I did half stars, this is probably more like 3.5 stars. But since I don’t–I give this book 4 stars for interesting characters and plot, but take away some points for what felt like a rushed ending, sometimes weak characterization, and for the proofreading/editing mistakes that in some cases did detract from my ability to stay within the story.

4 stars

Buy on Amazon * Author’s Website * GoodReads

Book info: published 2013, 275 pages, ISBN B00C9VC7AY

Copy is an advanced e-book copy.

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