Monday, 8 September 2014

Monday Mini-Reviews - The Oathbreaker's Shadow and The Shadow's Curse by Amy McCulloch

The Oathbreaker's ShadowFifteen-year-old Raim lives in a world where you tie a knot for every promise that you make. Break that promise and you are scarred for life, and cast out into the desert.

Raim has worn a simple knot around his wrist for as long as he can remember. No one knows where it came from, and which promise of his it symbolises, but he barely thinks about it at all - not since becoming the most promising young fighter ever to train for the elite Yun guard. But on the most important day of his life, when he binds his life to his best friend (and future king) Khareh, the string bursts into flames and sears a dark mark into his skin.

Scarred now as an oath-breaker, Raim has two options: run, or be killed.

 My review

In the world of The Oathbreaker’s Shadow, breaking a promise has deadly consequences. Raim has always had a strange knot around his wrist, which means some kind of promise, but has no idea where it came from. But when the time comes for him to take up his position in the Yun guard and bind himself to Prince Khareh, the string catches fire and burns him, indicating the promise has been broken. Exiled and in danger, Raim must find out what that promise really meant, and who he betrayed without even realising.

I absolutely loved the premise, and the world McCulloch creates is far from a stereotypical medieval fantasy world. There’s just enough detail to really immerse you in the world and the totally unique take on magic was fascinating. When a person breaks a promise, they’re physically scarred and haunted by the shadow of the one they betrayed. Raim’s emotional journey really drew me in.

A compelling story told in beautiful prose and with a complex and intriguing world. I’d absolutely recommend this to any fans of immersive yet accessible high fantasy!

Rating: 4 stars.

The Shadow's Curse (The Knots Duology, #2) 
 Raim is no closer to figuring out the meaning of the broken vow that sentenced him to exile for life. But with his former best friend now a tyrannical Khan who is holding the girl Raim loves captive, he finds it hard to care. Every day, he and Draikh learn more about their powers, but it quickly becomes clear that he will never be able to stop Khareh and free Wadi unless he can free himself from the ultimate taboo of his people. Reluctantly, Raim begins the long journey down to the dangerous South, to find the maker of his oath.

In Khareh's camp, Wadi is more than capable of devising her own escape plan, but she's gradually realizing she might not want to. The more she learns about Khareh, the more confused she becomes. He's done unquestionably bad things, horrific even, but he's got big dreams for Darhan that might improve their dire situation. What's more, rumours of a Southern king massing an army to invade Darhan are slowly gaining ground. Only if the Northern tribes can come together under a single ruler will they have the strength to fight the South - but what if that ruler is an impulsive (albeit brilliant) young man, barely able to control his ever-growing power, and missing the one part of him that might keep him sane? Whoever conquers the desert, wins the war. And the secret to desert survival lies in Lazar, which is set to become the heart of a great battle once again.

My review

I was really keen to read the sequel to the fantastic YA high fantasy The Oathbreaker’s Shadow, and I certainly wasn’t disappointed! In the second part to the duology, Raim still searches for answers, and for Wadi, who is held captive by the enemy, his former best friend, Khareh. This time we get Wadi’s perspective, too, which offers a new viewpoint on the enemy. We also finally learn the nature of the vow that cost Raim everything, and his character goes through some great development.

The action is strong from start to finish, and as with the first book, the worldbuilding is excellent. It’s easy to picture the harsh landscapes and each setting has its own unique details and traditions. As before, I loved the idea of the promise-knots, shadows and spirits, and how they played into the unpredictable plotline. I was as riveted by the twists and revelations as I was by the intricate level of detail in the setting. This is a beautifully written and engaging series, a fantastic example of YA epic fantasy!

Rating: 4.5 stars.

1 comment:

  1. Yay! These are on my TBR list, and you've got me excited to read them!