Title: The Oathbreaker's Shadow
Author: Amy McCulloch
Release Date: June 4, 2013
Publisher: Doubleday Canada (Random House Canada imprint)
In Raim's world, you tie a knot for every promise you make. If you break
that promise the knot will burst into flames, scarring your skin, forever marking you as an oathbreaker. Raim has worn a simple knot
around his wrist for as long as he can remember. No one seems to know
where it came from or which promise it symbolizes, and Raim barely
thinks about it at all. Especially not since he became the most
promising young fighter ever to train for the elite Yun guard. But on
the day that he binds his life to that of his best friend and future king, Khareh, the rope ignites and sears a dark mark into his
skin. Scarred now as an oathbreaker, Raim has two options: run or be
killed. He chooses to run, taking refuge in the vast desert among a
colony of exiled oathbreakers. Will he be able to learn the skills he
needs to clear his name? And even if he can, how can he keep a promise
he never knew he made in the first place?
The Oathbreaker's Shadow is an adventure curious and dangerous, filled with tradition and secret magic. It's at times spiritual and complex, engrossing in setting, story, and character. Not necessarily about truth and lies but the power a promise holds over those that make it, the power of a vow spoken aloud, and the darkness that lies ahead if that vow is broken. But what if you don't know what the broken promise was? Then comes the search, quite possibly for everything.
Raim is a strong and loyal young man, not necessarily expecting to be a hero but hopes to be a protector of others. He has simple hopes for his future, to be one of the Yun guard, but being scarred as an oathbreaker alters the path before him, forcing him onto one he never hoped to walk. Now he must search for answers hidden and unspoken. Now he must discover who he truly is, he must discover the secrets of his past, the secret of the single knot that has been around his wrist since he was an infant. This is now what drives Raim, as well as his promise to Khareh.
In Raim's world, promises are different. They're important, vital things that cannon be brushed aside without a moment's thought. There are consequences to breaking a promise, painful ones, and oathbreakers are forced to suffer for their actions.
Another highlight of this book, apart from Raim and the mysterious magic of promises, is the world crafted by the author. The nomadic lifestyle, the portability of families and their possessions, the barest of breezes that drifts over the desert, the dry smell of sand, the intense heat of the midday sun, the sharp clash of swords. Raim's is a curious world, steeped in tradition. The reader is tossed straight in, of course, with some explanation and history, but for the most part they're left to walk along side Raim as he travels across the dry desert in order to discover the reason behind his broken promise.
A fresh new voice introduces readers to a world both lush and arid, a young man determined and strong, and a journey that sheds light and attempts to shatter hope. A tale filled with danger and dreams of redemption, the first in what will hopefully be an exciting duology.
(I received an e-galley of this title to review from Random House Canada through NetGalley.)