Title: Sworn to Raise
Author: Terah Edun
Publication date: April 10th 2013
by Amazon Digital
Genre: YA Fantasy
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.
This sensational series debut melds intricate storylines with remarkable characters and unforgettable magic. Sworn To Raise is ideal for fans of Kristin Cashore, Michelle Sagara, and Maria Snyder.
Excerpt I: Chapter 1
Ciardis Vane watched the townspeople jeering as the local Gardis strapped the highwayman into the stocks. Frowning Ciardis wormed her way closer to the front of the crowd, straining to get a peek at the criminal. She felt no pity for the condemned man; he would die tonight, regardless of her feelings. The nightwolves were already pacing, their shadowed forms just visible in the dense tree line, waiting for darkness to fall.
Without the protection of the house wards, the highwayman would be defenseless locked in the stocks. I wish I could say it will be a quick death, she thought with clinical detachment, but they’ll probably go for his guts first. The man deserved no less than death in any case; he had done nothing but steal from—and sometimes kill—those who traveled the Imperial coach roads. “Stand and deliver,” indeed!
Ciardis pushed back her heavy brown curls with a sun-bronzed hand. Turning slightly to the side she whispered about his crime with the other washer maids who’d come to see the spectacle. Suddenly, she felt a sharp pinch on her wrist. Turning to see who had interrupted her entertainment, she looked over and frowned down at the younger woman who now stood by her side.
Wringing her hands anxiously, Margaret looked up at Ciardis and gave a quick jerk of her head to the side to indicate they should speak outside the crowd. “You’ll want to hear this firsthand, Ciardis,” Margaret said with urgency.
“All right, all right,” Ciardis muttered as they made their way out of the crowd and down to the washer station with a few other girls trailing behind. The slight blonde woman who scurried next to her was a great source of village gossip, and Ciardis knew that whatever she had to say would be worth leaving the spectacle in the midst of the judge’s punishment. To Ciardis, a good piece of gossip was as welcome as spun gold…usually.
When they’d walked far enough from the crowds Margaret was quick to tell Ciardis the news which she’d heard from weaver’s daughter who’d heard it in the apothecary the day before.
Practically bursting with the pent up the news Mags bounced on the balls of her feet as she said, “Fervis and the caravan girl…they’re together Ciardis.”
“They’re together?” Ciardis said with disgust, “No, he’s with me.”
Mags shook her whole head, curls bouncing every which way, in denial.
“They were seen, getting in a big fight and then…” said Mags.
“So?” interrupted Ciardis in disdain, “That means nothing.
Patiently the girl continued ignoring the interruption, “And then the girl’s father came and threatened to kill Fervis. One thing led to another and now they’re bound.”
This bit of news hit Ciardis with all the weight of a lead brick.
“Bound?” questioned Ciardis unsteadily. Bound was very different from together. Bound meant married, bound meant forever. Now she felt like throwing up.
Excerpt II: Chapter 4
Ciardis sat and dropped her hands into her lap, ready for anything, as long as she found out what her talent was, if any. Sarah took off her spectacles and tucked back behind her ears the wisps of hair that were fluttering in her face. Then she straightened up and put her hands on either side of Ciardis’s face.
“Hmm,” she said after five long minutes. Ciardis frowned. There’d been no magic spark or rustling winds or anything.
Where was the magical flash of power? Wasn’t that how you could tell a mage from a mundane? Ciardis hoped the lack of magical excitement didn’t mean anything. Perhaps Sarah’s empathic touch wasn’t meant to be a visual demonstration?
Ciardis peered anxiously at Sarah’s face, hoping for a clue.
“I don’t believe it,” Sarah whispered finally. In a slightly louder voice, she asked, “What did you say your full name was?”
“Ciardis Rafaela Vane.”
Sarah said quickly, “And it is your true name, registered by the hands of your mother and father?”
Ciardis nodded anxiously. “They went to the birth archives in the town and everything. Named me after the town, in a way. At least, that’s what I’ve been told.”
“Then someone misled you. Or deliberately lied.” Sarah stared at her intently and abruptly stood, “Come with me now!”
They rushed out of Ciardis’s room and into the dorm hallway, Sarah clasping Ciardis’s hand as they ran. They passed through three different corridors along the way. Ciardis barely saw a glimpse of the intricate artwork and beautiful statues in the halls as she rushed around corners – trying to keep up with Sarah’s fast pace. Soon they came to an abrupt stop in front of a large door. At the top of the door in scrolled letters was inscribed, “The Companions Library”. As they entered, Sarah asked in a hoarse whisper, “Do you recall what the first part of my mage gift is?”
Ciardis nodded and said, “A photographic memory.” She tried to ignore the trembling in Sarah’s hands as the archivist led her through the bookcases. For her part Sarah would stop in the middle of the library aisles and turn in a circle while pulling Ciardis with her.
Occasionally Sarah’s hand would tighten on Ciardis’s as she cast her gaze around her like a bloodhound on the hunt. Sarah was searching with her magic for something…what exactly that was Ciardis couldn’t say. Seeing the girl’s confusion Sarah explained, “I’m sending out feelers from my mage core in different directions hoping to sense the manuscript that most feels like your mage core.”
“My mage core?” questioned Ciardis, “I have one?”
“Oh, most definitely,” said Sarah in a grim tone, “I would question how you didn’t know about it before this.”
After a few minutes of this, Sarah instructed Ciardis in a whisper, “The imprints that I’m sending feelers out for are like markers. If it’s in a book, I can trace the marker back to its source. With my memory and the imprint trail, I never forget where I’ve placed a book.”
After a moment of silence she continued, “Your imprint reminds me strongly of a book I read long ago, as a child. If I’m right, there hasn’t been a Companion trainee of your type in more than thirty years.”
Terah Edun is an international development professional and author/lover of all things Young Adult Fantasy fiction. She is a native Georgian, adoptive Washingtonian, unrepentant expat currently living in South Sudan, brilliant dreamer, lover of dogs and not-so-closet geek. Her first novel, Red Madrassa, was released on November 8th and her second novel, Sworn to Raise, comes out in April 2013.