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on 9 October 2011
I loved the books as they stood but with a change of publisher comes a new threat, but I really dont get the need for it at the start of the book I really had to think about what happened before. I enjoyed it when the sroty progressed and it turned out to be a good read, I just hope that the awkward start to this new series doesnt put people off becuase the story is actually quite good by the end. I am in an emotional relationshipwith these books I love the older characters but the new ones are growing on me.

A good read should be a good series (look for the previous ones they are really worth a read)
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on 15 September 2017
Good Book
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on 4 May 2017
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VINE VOICEon 6 March 2011
I've been aware of Martin's work for a while, now, but for some reason I never got around to reading the first story arc set in her world (The Chronicles of the Necromancer, published by Solaris). As Orbit sent me a copy of The Sworn, and because it's the start of a new series, I figured there was no better time to get stuck in, and I was rather happy with what I discovered within...

The Sworn is the beginning of a new, compelling epic tale set in a medieval-gothic world where the undead live cautiously alongside the living. The world is only just coming to grips with the chaos and disruption caused by Jared the Usurper's bloody reign, when newer and potential greater threats begin to emerge: A plague is devastating the domains, creating tension and fear as scapegoats are sought; and a dark sect is desecrating the great barrows of the land, digging into evil magics long thought expunged, and a threat from the north is gathering its forces.

There are quite a few characters to get to grips with, and at the start it felt a little like I was lost amid a sea of people I didn't know, like I was late to a rather large party. Even with the Prologue, which is intended to catch long-time readers up with what's been going on, and give new readers an introduction to this world, I admit I was a little lost. Nevertheless, I stuck with it and I was rewarded for my patience; I found myself becoming familiar with the characters, politics, and creatures quite quickly, and some of them really started to grow on me.

And what a world Martin has created - the deathly, dark and gothic aspects and tones appealed a great deal. The world features ghosts, vampires ("vayash moru"), werewolves ("vyrkin"), and a necromantic magic system. The vayash moru and vyrkin have distinct politics and societies of their own, and we are introduced to a lot of it over the course of the novel. Issues of race also infuse the politics of the world, as some domains allow the vayash moru and vyrkin to live among them, openly-but-separate, while others still hunt them. The ghosts in this world interact with its living inhabitants, sometimes in strange and bizarre ways (the use of "ghost whores" is interesting, if also rather disturbing). The magic system is a blend of necromancy mixed with some Native American shamanism. It's a good mix, and Martin does a very deft job of using it to add layers of atmosphere to the novel and world. There are also "dimmons" in this world (demons, basically, which made me raise an eye-brow the first few times I read their name - it seemed a rather pointless re-spelling). These creatures are sinister, vicious, and prey on the unwary travellers. The Dread, mentioned in the synopsis, are equally dark and sinister, as are the ashtenerath (reanimated corpses).

On a couple of occasions it feels like Martin's trying to `authenticate' her faux-medieval world by using phrases that aren't really very helpful. Take, for example, this description of a character's age: "He was a young man, a few years more than twenty seasons old". This, to me, suggested he is `older than five'... But in actuality, he's over twenty. To be fair, this instance is unusual and actually quite out-of-place, as 99% of the time, Martin's writing allows the reader to naturally come to an understanding of the world, its political and societal norms. In fact, the author's writing as a whole is very natural - other than the aforementioned age comment, the dialogue is realistic, accessible and with a good, natural flow. The slower pace of the plot might not suit everyone, but it did quite suite the story and atmosphere. That the pace was slower than expected was both surprising and a little disappointing, because the blurbs on the back of the book do suggest that Martin's writing is quickly paced and "exuberant", when I actually found some scenes and chapters dropped the pace considerably, drawing away from the story's momentum. The Sworn is very much a the beginning of a new sequence, events and forces are still moving into place, so I imagine the sequel, The Dread, is going to be much more exciting, quicker paced, and I imagine feature a lot more action.

Gothic and interesting, the world is fully established and well-realised (this is the fifth novel set within it), and while I did have some minor trouble getting to grips with who everybody was and how they fit into the politics and plot, I became rather fond of some of them (for example, Aidane, Jair Rothlandorn, Jonmarc, and Cam). It would have been nice to spend more time with Martris Drayke, though, as I felt he didn't feature as much in the novel towards the start of the novel as I had expected.

I can't comment on Martin's evolution as an author, as I've not read her previous work, but this is a very well-written and intricately plotted epic fantasy novel in a great setting, and I can't wait for the second book in the cycle, The Dread. I would definitely recommend The Sworn. I would perhaps caution people of the uneven pacing, and also that they will likely get more out of reading the first four novels before reading this one, but, as I discovered, this is not essential to enjoy this novel.

Gothic and politics-infused Epic Fantasy. This is a very good, original novel and setting.
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A new publisher for a new cycle in Gail's Winter Kingdoms and one that can be started by new readers without any worries about what has gone before. Personally speaking, I like the fact that the reader can jump straight in, but with the fact that the original series was such an eye opener then it would be a great shame to miss it.

As usual with Gail, the writing is wonderful, she has a masters touch with pace, a cracking understanding of prose and knows how to lead the reader a merry dance to a tune that only she can hear. Finally add to this a great sense of character and a startling assembly of cast members within the world and you know that the title is going to be something that will make you pay attention especially as you await the next instalment with baited breath.
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VINE VOICEon 30 November 2011
The previous entries in the series have been hit and miss in delivering tension even though the characters and plots had been fleshed out enough to create credible fantasy. There are some unique ideas that carry this series and those elements are explored further, with some interesting plots concerning the relationship between the living and the dead.

The Sworn, due to the sheer scale of the plot, requires a diverse cast and this makes the first half quite dense, for the last four books have added many characters and they are spread across the Winter Kingdoms. Once the characters have been established Martin creates a strong feeling of foreboding, this entry is very much the calm before the storm; a prologue for the next chapter. Thanks to some unpredictable plot twists and careful manoeuvring of the protagonists The Sworn guarantees you'll be eagerly awaiting the next book, The Dread.
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on 26 April 2011
I Loved the 'Chronicles of The Necromancer' series and this continuation is welcome.

It starts slowly, as it setting the scene for this cycle of books so nothing major happens. Becoming reacquainted with familiar characters is the main focus.

I enjoyed the book and would recommend, however, do not purchase unless you have read the 'Chronicles of the Necromancer' series or you will be lost.

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on 5 June 2011
Another epic instalment from Gail Martin. The introduction of new characters at the start threw me a little after the ending of her last book. But as the plot unfolds she really doesn't fail to disappoint. Fantastic on it's own, even if you haven't read any of her previous books.
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on 6 September 2011
I've really enjoyed all of the books so far in this series and this one certainly doesn't disappoint, can't wait to read the next one!
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on 4 July 2011
I found the book to be an excellent read. It leads on nicely from her last book in the 'The Chronicles of the Necromancer' series. Your enjoyment of this book would not be any less if you have not read the first series, as 'Sworn' works well as a stand alone novel and fills in the reader on past events as the book progresses. I strongly recommend this book to any readers who enjoy fantasy and adventure.
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