“Raim sat in the crook of an old, cracked tree, one leg dangling in the breeze, his head leaning back against the trunk. Long, needle-like leaves shaded him from the oppressive hear and hid him from the view of his grandfather, in case he was looking to assign Raim yet another chore. He just wanted a moment to himself. From his vantage point he could see his clan’s settlement of yurts, dome-like tents that made up his home, and watched as smoke lifted lazily out of the circular holes in the centre of the roofs.”
Raim and his family live within the Moloti tribe. Everyone in their world have a tribe which follows a nomadic lifestyle, except those in the capital, where each year a festival is held and the Yun apprentices fight to bind themselves to the most respected solider clan. Raim is due to fight, he is set to become the greatest Yun ever known, but in a world where promises are bound by knots and if you break that promise you are scarred, haunted by a shadow and exiled to life in the desert, Raim is wary of the knot which has been on his arm for as long as he can remember. The day Raim wins his fight, he promises himself to his best friend, the future King, Khareh, but that simple knot on his wrist bursts into flame, branding him as an oathbreaker. Raim now has two options; run or be killed.
I wanted to love this book, I really did. I had seen so many fantastic reviews of it and I loved the idea of it. Unfortunately I didn’t love it. It was good, but it wasn’t amazing, not for me anyway.
I loved the story, the whole idea of a promise knot and the oath that people take, I loved the idea of following someone who’s oathbreaking wasn’t as simple as others and I actually did really enjoy that, the world was rich and full of description and that helped with the whole premise of the book coming to light. However it was a little too slow going in places, especially at the beginning of the book. There was a lot of background information at the beginning which felt like the story wasn’t being told, we were just being given the facts. This picked up after about 100 pages and once Raim found his way into the desert I was hooked, I needed to carry on reading just to find out what happened.
I think a lot of what I didn’t enjoy about the beginning was also the fact that I couldn’t stand Khareh, Raim’s best friend. He acted like a spoilt, arrogant brat and I wanted to slap him whenever he was on the page. Obviously if you have read the book you will know things about his later on which I can only say I wasn’t surprised about. But if you haven’t read the book I do not wish to spoil anything for you. I just didn’t like the guy right from the start. The only redeeming quality in him at the beginning was his sense of humour and his loyalty to Raim but this soon disappears. In contrast I loved Draikh and liked the bond between him and Riam. I liked Raim but thought he made some stupid mistakes… especially when it came to Khareh, and I loved Raim’s family and Wadi. The characters we meet in Lazar are fairly complex but wonderful too. I loved the idea that although they were oathbreakers, they were kinda trustworthy characters as well.
The way the book is written was a little strange for me to be honest. I found some passages quite slow whilst others went by so quickly I wasn’t sure what was going on and had to re-read them. I missed important bits of information in these fast parts which I wouldn’t have gotten if I hadn’t re-read. However I can see how Amy McCulloch has the potential to become a renowned fantasy author from this series and I can see how the series is bound to grow with its later books… I will not be giving up on it.
It may sound like there was a lot I didn’t like about this book but I did enjoy it. I am hoping that the second book will build on the foundations of this one and will make me a huge fan of the series, especially as I am now dying to know what happens to these characters next after where we leave them in The Oathbreaker’s Shadow.
The Oathbreaker’s Shadow was published on June 6th by Doubleday Children’s books, a Random House imprint. My copy was sent from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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