Notice: I was provided a copy of this book for reviewing purposes.
When last we left off, Ciardis Weathervane had fought with some pretty terrifying monsters, discovered she had a brother, felt betrayed by…well, a lot of people (it seems to be a consistent issue for her), and had drained her powers pretty well.
We pick up in a completely new area of the Empire – the Northern Border. This is the same border that is referred to in the first two books in the series as the place where the Empire’s soldiers have been fighting for decades. Ciardis isn’t sure how she got there and things go downhill from there. Physically, she pretty much collapses from materializing there sans appropriate clothing; mentally she’s out from being power drained, and emotionally she’s out of juice as well. The end of Sworn to Transfer (sorry, no spoilers) has left her in a very vulnerable state.
That vulnerability comes in to play several times throughout the story.
Essentially, she meets some of the Kith (monsters as other books would call them, essentially non-humans) that have been aiding the humans in their war in the North, and gets dragged in to the politics between these Kith (I’ll get to their commander, Inga, in a second), the General of the Imperial Army, Prince Sebastian, and, believe it or not, her Brother.
To say that the situation is murky and somewhat tense would be an understatement.
Anyhow, there is a great deal of conflict going on for Ciardis in this book. The primary conflict that drives it is her internal questioning of who to trust when stories don’t match up between the various factions. She also has to reconcile what she sees with what she has been taught in the Empire about the North and the Kith. Her brother and Prince Sebastian aren’t helping matters. Both of them strike at her when she is vulnerable (or at least when she perceives herself to be vulnerable) in different ways and the contrasts in how they treat Ciardis are extremely telling about their characters.
Now, in my last review I said that one of the flaws present was a lack of development on the part of the secondary cast. I am happy to say that this is not the case in Sworn to Conflict. Prince Sebastian is given several interesting times to shine that show different aspects of his personality and ability to handle conflict. I think that putting General Barnaren in as a contrast to Sebastian was excellent on Edun’s part – it really gives Sebastian some excellent contrast to show off against. He is also contrasted with Ciardis’ brother – a sort of Khan style antagonist – whom Ciardis is extremely curious about. This is not to say she immediately trusts him (that would be foolish on her part), but there is some definite development and reaching out there on the part of Ciardis which is contrasted well with her relationship with Prince Sebastian.
And then there is Inga. I am in love with Inga. She is a Frost Giant who leads her Kith in the War. She is also herself – regardless of the situation. Even in situations where ‘herself’ is going to cause more conflict than good. She brings out opportunities for Ciardis to question why she is making the personal choices that she is and, similarly, gives plenty of opportunities to show why those questions should be asked. And answered as Inga sees fit. Inga gets her own character arc here as well, which is interesting in its own right (and would probably have made a great ‘companion’ novel to boot).
The only “flaw” (and I use the term flaw here loosely”) to Sworn to Conflict is that there is a LOT of worldbuilding and history explored in its short pages. I had to, occasionally, take breaks to let my brain process everything that was being thrown at me. It wasn’t that it wasn’t interesting (it was); it just came at me so fast that I am truely hoping that I did not miss anything for next novel.
Sworn to Conflict is a fantastic continuation of an already excellent series. Pick it up – you won’t regret it. (If you haven’t already gotten the first two, they’re on sale as a group pack now!).
Total rating: 4.9 / 5