I'm sure you've seen this series up on my blog quite a few times lately and I am so glad I finally get a chance to read it because it really has intrigued me from all the posts about it. This is a High Fantasy piece at heart and as such the story to be told here is rather large. You have Royals and social structure to magic and other skills that really draw you into this fantastical world. Ciardis is a 17 year-old girl who has done nothing but launder her entire life. She is an orphan and from a very early age learned to take care of herself by working hard and long hours. However, that all changes when she meets Serena, a women of status known as a companion, and she takes Ciardis under her wing to become a companion herself. Sworn to Raise takes you on a poor orphan's journey through the court life of tricks and deception on her way to finding out more about herself than she thought possible.
Ciardis is a great female lead in my eyes. She comes from literally nothing, no family or stature and has made a living for herself no matter how meager, through hard work. You have to love a character that knows that a little elbow grease is required in life and she flourishes into a real woman by the end of the book. Her growth is visible and not all of it is because she is suddenly in the middle of the highest class of people, but of her own qualities that get to shine because of the opportunity present to her. Plus, between her own accomplishments and problems cleverly solved , such as her reading problem, this story balances overcoming odds with getting some much needed help along the way. Pair her with the cast of characters around her in Sworn to Raise and they really lead you on this great journey around a fantasy kingdom with a lot of drama going down!
That world is what my favorite part of the story comes from. Fantasy is a tough genre to write, I've said this before, simply because of all the world building that has to be done in order for a story to work. You can't be too vague because the reader can't understand what the environment that these characters are in is suppose to look like and if you just ramble on and on about scenery and other things around said characters, people find it boring. Sworn to Raise does this perfectly. I have to give the author huge props for showing me what this world looks like versus telling me. Little things like letting me know the carriages that Serena and Ciardis are traveling in away from her home are actually sleds let me know she comes from a where it is wintery or when they arrive at the Companions Guild, the fact that she mistakes it for the Imperial Castle makes you understand how high these woman are regarded. Subtle hints in a fantasy world without losing the enormity of it are what takes this story from being really good to great. These women are not to be trifled with and reminded me so much of the similar named companions of Sci-Fi fixtures like Dr. Who that I had a hard time finding this book anything but enjoyable to read! Sworn to raise will take you on a unique journey of a strong female character and show you a world you have never seen before.