Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Oathbreakers by Mercedes Lackey

When Idra, leader of the crack mercenaries known as the Sunhawks, failed to return from a journey to her home kingdom of Rethwellan, Tarma and Kethry, warrior and mage, set out in search of their vanished leader. Sisters of sword and spell, their fates bound together by a Goddess-sworn oath, they were eternally pledged to fight the forces of evil.

And evil had indeed cast its shadow over Rethwellan. Idra, so they were told, had left long ago on a search for a legendary magical sword which could reveal which of her two brothers was meant to become the new king. With the princess gone, her younger brother had been branded an outlaw and her older brother had claimed the throne. Both instinct and mage lore told Kethry and Tarma that all was not as it seemed, that both Idra and her people were in terrible jeopardy. Yet would their Goddess-given powers, aided by those of a Herald of Valdemar, prove strong enough to break the dark enchantment possessing this land?

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Another blast from the past as I slowly continue my re-read of the Valdemar universe books. In this book we see Tarma and Kethry "all grown up" as it were. Not that they weren't quite mature before, but now they have several more years of experience under their belts, both as an independent team and as part of a mercenary company. Both have learned much about how to work with and train others, skills that will be vital for them to be able to found their fighting and magecraft schools as they want to someday. These skills also make them the best suited to investigate the disappearance of their Captain...and to plot and lead the revenge-taking when they discover the answers they were seeking regarding her.

I'm not sure if you could say the two heroines here develop further during the course of this book so much as we simply get to see a lot more of who they are and what sort of women they've become after years of partnering and following a mercenary's life. Throughout the course of the novel we get to see in detail how they work, which is always to follow the motto of "fight smarter, not harder." Even when their own rage tries to demand that they take action *NOW* they don't give into it, holding onto their tempers, even if only by a hairsbreadth, and channeling their anger into productive activities instead of letting it control them.

In my review of book one, Oathbound, I mentioned how many of the things that happened there will have relevance in the future, and such is even more the case here. While the events of this book have extensive consequence and ramifications in their own time, much of what happens in the future will hinge upon what happened here as well. Alliances are forged and promises are made that will prove vital one day, so pay attention and stay tuned.

I think I like this book better than the first one in part because of the story and in part because it's more cohesive as a novel. Where book one was composed in part of short stories that were edited together with some new material to form a novel, this has the feel of having been written as a novel from start to finish and isn't episodic as Oathbound was as times. As with the first book, I believe any fans of old school fantasy, particularly of the sword and sorcery type, would enjoy this book. It may be old, but it has stood the test of time well and doesn't feel dated at all, at least in my opinion. 4 solid stars.

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