Title: Sworn to Raise
Author: Terah Edun
Series: Courtlight #1
Genre: YA Fantasy
Received for review from NetGalley
Seventeen-year-old Ciardis has grown up in poverty, a cleaner in a small vale on the outskirts of the empire. But beneath her empire’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.
Eh. Just… Eh.
I’m going to give the author credit for some interesting ideas. I like the idea of a mage whose ability is to enhance others. It’s an interesting concept to have the power to enhance others but no power of your own – being hugely magically powerful but ultimately helpless. There’s a lot of good drama and conflict that could be squeezed out of that. I also like the idea of girls being trained to be ‘Companions’ – though I’ll admit the way it’s executed in this book left me feeling a little… well, feministically enraged.
And that’s pretty much the problem with this book full stop – execution. It’s just all over the place. The second main character – the prince of the blurb who is supposed to be inept – is introduced without so much as a foreshadow. Or even a fore-mention. He’s dropped into the middle of the story – literally the middle, it had to be close to 50% of the way through – and we’re supposed to care about his predicament.
The narrative jumps forwards in time, then spends two paragraphs info dumping all the important stuff that happened. It mentions things you’re supposed to have knowledge of, but I’m pretty sure never came up before – I read this book very quickly, I doubt I could have forgotten everything that came out of the blue and left me feeling like ‘what the hell are they talking about.’
To get back to the feminism thing, I’m all for the Companion trope, as long as it’s subversive. Women training to be the perfect companion to men in order to manipulate the men in power and achieve their own goals? I’m all over that. There are certain periods in history where women would have had little choice to to employ guile and charm to influence history. Let the men think they’re in charge, but the ladies rule the roost. That would be amazingly good fun. But Ciardis talks about being chosen as a Companion and birthing her partner’s children like this is a good choice for her, and what she should aspire to. There’s no ‘I don’t like this, but it’s all I’ve got’ – it’s all ‘if I live this life I get books and pretty dresses.’ Just gross.
And she’s not a great character either. There’s very little to any of the characters in fact apart from the fact that they’re bitchy. All of them are bitchy. Every last one. Which makes them rather impossible to tell apart after a while.
And that’s before I get onto the typos and bad grammar. The first few chapters were fine – obviously combed over fairly closely, or read by someone other than the author who was able to point out what writers inevitably become blind o. But it was clear that the later chapters hadn’t even been read through carefully by the author. There were whole words missing, sentences that didn’t make any sense and characters blatantly contradicting themselves within three or four lines. If the care and attention that went into the first few chapters was put into all of the book, this could have been a 2.5 star read, I think. But it has to be a whole star lower than that because it’s just so messy towards the end.
Some interesting ideas, but poor execution and worse grammar and typo errors make this harder work than it’s worth.