Friday, September 6, 2013

Oathbreakers by Mercedes Lackey

Reviewed by Holly White

Oathbreakers is set in Mercedes Lackey’s world of Valdemar and is the second book in the “Vows and Honor” series, following Oathbound.

Oathbreakers continues the story of Tarma, the warrior woman, Sword-sworn, and Kethry, her blood-sister (like blood-brothers, only female), a White Winds mage.  Their goal now is to retire from being traveling-warrior-and-mage for hire.  Often, they did not even get the “hire” part of it, thanks in large part to Leslac, the minstrel, who had written numerous songs in their praise, which inaccurately portrayed them as being pure altruists, unwilling to accept mere money in return for their aid, only content that justice had been done.  This was proving to be a bit expensive for them.

Tarma and Kethry wanted to start a school where they could teach their skills to the next generation of mages and warriors.  Friends advised them to hire out with a mercenary company: not only would their reputation bring them high fees but it would give them both additional experiences that would be useful in their school.

Tarma and Kethry joined the Sunhawks, the most elite mercenary company around, often hired by the wealthiest nobles, which would also give them connections for the school.  Idra, the Sunhawks’ leader, was also a princess of Rethwellanin, but not in direct line for the throne, in which she was not interested anyway, preferring to fight. Things went well at first, with both Tarma and Kethry establishing themselves as an integral part of the Sunhawks, but then it all started to go south.

Idra had returned to her country after her father’s death to cast her vote as to which brother should be king after him.  One brother was both interested in and qualified for the rule of Rethwellan, and the other was neither.  It seemed a mere formality, but a message from Idra indicated there might be a delay.  After no word from her for months, Tarma and Kethry set out to visit Rethwellan in disguise to see what they could learn.  They found a tyrant on the throne.  Idra and her brother  had disappeared, and the people who were supposed to be their contacts didn’t trust them, and so Tarma and Kethry could not get any information. 

Before it was over with, the two would travel to Valdemar, all the Sunhawks mercenaries would unite in a battle for which they didn’t care if they were paid, Tarma would have to prove herself willing to give up everything she had ever held dear, Kethry would have to call on powers she never had the need to call on before, the minstrel Leslac would be dealt with once and for all, and someone would find love.

I loved this story; it was a bit slow going at the beginning, but by the halfway point, I could not put it down.  I highly recommend this book. You don't have to read Oathbound first, but you will have a richer reading experience if you do because you'll know the characters' backgrounds.

If you love fantasy tales with warriors, battles, mages, disguises, magical beasts that can talk to you in your mind, court intrigues, strategies that involve surprise endings, and the hope of good winning over evil, I think you will love this book as I do.  One more to add to my “Favorites Shelf!”

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