Amy McCulloch: The Oathbreaker's Shadow



G plot and some engaging characters Raim looks to be building toward a redemption arc but things do not turn out to be that simple He is joined on his journey by Wadi member of another nomadic group that wanders an even harsher land At first their connection is confused but eventually it comes out that she too is bound by promises not necessarily her own And McCulloch is not afraid to shock a reader violence and death are no stranger in this worldIf I could pick a highlight it is in fact the ethical and moral implications of a promise based society When right and wrong sit on a sliding scale I find myself intrigued Karen Millar wrote a tale where the moral path was often the opposite of what we would expect due to a divine mandate The affect is the same here any promise broken results in exile This means a promise made under duress or through lust or under the influence potentially sets the moral course for a person s life Some very uestionable promises come into play for some characters up to and including a promise of deathThis is a smart fun book that excels when it is clicking As long as a reader is not prone to overthinking things I have no problem recommending it And there is always a possibility as this is the first of a duology that many of my concerns will be answered in due time3 StarsCopy for review received through NetGalley 35 stars I struggled with the book at first because I was bored with all of the history that McCulloch felt the need to lay out all at once and frustrated with way too many characters for me to keep track of that I had to keep looking back But the story picked up about the halfway point and I found myself really liking it I am however frustrated that I still have so many uestions but I am eager for the next one to come outFirst of all I think the concept is really interesting However I m left to rely on pure faith alone on how the oath making and breaking system works If it s based on Sola s beliefs then something like a piece of string or hair seems kind of silly for me And with all that background that McCulloch laid out so uickly I would have thought she would have explained how that tradition came to be That doesn t come until much much laterThe other thing was the book s summary established that Raim was going to break his oath and be considered a traitor But we don t even get to that until about a third of the way through It just seemed like there was so much reading involved up until that point but not much has happenedThe other thing that frustrated me about this book was with all the set up I thought I would have had a better idea of what was going on as I was reading But that wasn t the case There were some many times that I had to stop and think Wait a minute what just happened and I would have to go back and try to figure out if I had missed something Only I hadn t It just wasn t explained until later or it wasn t explained at all Take for instance around Chapter 20 My mind was reeling on what was going on and how in the world that can happen It wasn t until near the end of Chapter 28 when Draikh rehashed what had happened did I really understandMajor Spoiler Alert for reasoning and later memory refresherAlso Raim was on this uest to find out the mystery behind the original knot Only view spoilerhe never did find out I mean he found out that it was a generational promise but that explains nothing hide spoiler I know it is often a part of a fantasy review but it s so true An original and uniue magic system in a book is like finding a wonderful new spice in a dish It gives the tale a uniue flavorThis is a tale of friendship and loyalty and betrayal Of power and outcasts It s a good solid story I recommend it I have only one word to describe The Oathbreaker s Shadow Painful It s a rare book I would compare to an instrument of torture but there are so many things wrong with this between the massive infodumps the meandering story the loose plot threads that go nowhere the poorly thought out magic system the fast and loose characterizations the blatant cultural misappropriation I am not exaggerating when I say I literally felt like I was being tortured every time I read one agonizing word of this And ou know what the worst part was There was actually a three or four chapter stretch in the middle when I thought the book was actually improving well thanks for the false hopeObviously to say I didn t enjoy The Oathbreaker s Shadow in the least would be a massive understatement First of all the world building was just awful I usually refrain from making direct comparisons between one book and another because I feel every book should stand or fall on its own but in this case I just can t help but compare Amy McCulloch s fantasy debut with another Central Asian inspired fantasy Elizabeth Bear s Range of Ghosts In this case I think it s warranted because both books borrow heavily from Mongol culture as a starting point and just having read both its readily apparent what the dos and do nots of writing this type of book is Do creatively weave the cultural elements into the narrative so the whole thing feels authentic and interesting Do not litter the story with catchphrases Tutoring Lady Jane yurt anyone and foreign sounding names while following every new character or setting with a two or three paragraph description explaining the cultural significance hint it s headache inducing but importantly boring Do develop an understanding of the culture so the thingsou talk about the nomadic lifestyle the horse culture the significance of living on the steppes resonates Do not start writing until ou get a handle on the material or like this book ou ll end up having American Poetry your characters living in a village when they re supposed to be nomads and the description of the capital reading like it was copied from the Wikipedia entry of Ulaanbaatar hint it annoys people who know betterAnyway I like my world building to read like a homage not a poorly done ripoff and unlessou re intentionally looking for a book in which one third of the story is literally just that ripoff not homage The Oathbreaker s Shadow is a chore to read Then again the actual story isn t any better You know how the hook is about the titular oathbreaker Raim needing to figure out what his broken oath is Well forget that cause we never find out And if that wasn t bad enough the summary gives away the entire first third of the book though either way it drags hard thanks to McCulloch s need to include explanations for literally everything Sure there is actually a point to oathbreaking and the stigma attached but it hardly makes any sense view spoilerApparently when an oath is broken the promisor is haunted by a part of the promisee s soul but shouldn t there be repercussions for losing part of Every Good Girl your soul And if enough people break their promises toou do ou die That was for me the most interesting aspect of the book but no brushed aside for woooo spirit army hide spoiler. 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 pla.

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Should ou break it is an interesting one that is likely to resonate with Last of the Few younger and older people a like All the best Young Adult novels provide a moral dilemma such as this and I think Amy s encouraging aounger reader to reflect upon their opinions of trust and truth makes this Young Adult than just a pop novelI will skip ahead a little so as not to spoil what happens once Raim breaks this unknown promise Raim is away from the town and determined to find out what this promise was who he made it to and get a solution as to how he can prove it wasn t his fault that there has been a mistake of some kind With trust and truth being the main themes of the novel there is plenty of lies and betrayals along Raim s journey after he has made his decision to get to the bottom of what has gone on It is a journey that is full of adventure packed with interesting characters and loaded with revelations that are likely to shock and surprise its My Darling, My Hamburger young adult audience less so those adults who have read novels such as A Game of ThronesOverall The Oathbreaker s Shadow is an absolutely fantastic debut and I can say without a doubt it was one of the finest debuts of 2013 My hope is that once this duology is complete Amy takes an even bolder step to writing a longer novel with a deeper complex plot aimed at adult fantasy readers I think that if she chooses to shed the YA genre s constraints and can combine her literary and descriptive abilities with a complex plot we ll all be treated to her full abilities as a writer That said this adult can t fricken wait for the seuel Recommended for fans of YA FantasyThe premise for this fantasy novel is uniue and I love the idea that there are real conseuences to breaking a promise You are immediately thrown into Raim s world and McCulloch s world building is fantastic I also like how severe and unwavering Raim s society is They have rules for a reason and breaking those rules means banishment Even Raim s status can t save him It s a set up for a fast paced suspenseful story This is a rough book to fairly rate but my review falls somewhere on the lower side of the 3 star range It s just that this book is all over the place and that makes it hard to really 100% comprehend everything that s laid out McCulloch should get credit for creating a magic system that is actually fascinating The concept of promise knots and the events that unfold ifou break one are solidly interesting The execution and explanation of this magic system Not so much For as long as it took to set things up and all the info dumps that were present I really felt lost for a long time in this story The magic system is there but it s not well explained and that s frustratingThe other part of this book that was rough for me was the lack of character development I m a very character driven reader and I like to feel like my protagonists are learning and growing I didn t feel that way during my read although I admit that I did like Raim overall I just felt like he spent so long trying to find the secret behind his knot and then right when he was close the book went on all sorts of tangents It just didn t flow and Raim just didn t grow and that made it hard for me to really connect with this storyI think there s a lot of good things in The Oathbreaker s Shadow I think that the premise overall is solid and that with a little bit love this book could have been great I am actually interested to see what happens next to be honest EhThis is hurting my headLike giving me an actual migraine Or what I think a migraine feels like I ve never had one before or I did and I just couldn t identify it When DOES a headache turn into a migraine Is there a significant and distinguishable margin like Love Virtually you coalesce from one range of pain into another much terrible one Or is it just cool to sayou ve got a migraine I m not good at biology The only thing I ve figured out by far is that migraine gives Our Island Guide you that weird pin inour brains and eyeballs feeling but then if ou jump into a pool at the wrong angle and water goes up our nostrils at an even worse angle Horn (Horn, you get that feeling as well Which makesou want to rip out تعلم jQuery فى 120 دقيقة your eyes This book didn t make me want to rip out my eyes but it definitely bored me with its endless and clunky info dump cookie cutter characters late beginning lame dialogues unrealistic relationship and world building its telling that could have done with a bit emotion and feeling Moreover one scene jumps straight into another and when its time to get back dude it beams out of the sky No guiding smoothly or amalgamating the story seuencesI m going to try and relaxI m going to ALOOOHHHAAAAloha baby Do it with me Two simple steps Waveour hands and shake Damian (The Caine Brothers your ass To the right To the left Do it alone ifou re shyOr do it with meIt s fun either way Fantasy Review BarnA person s word is all they have Never has this been truer than in the world of The Oathbreaker s Shadow The nomadic group central to the story doesn t just believe in keeping promises they enforce it Each promise made reuires a knot to be tied a magical binding with grave conseuences if broken Before a certain age breaking a promise results in a painful lesson But lessons are for children and there comes a point where the conseuences are much dire Breaking a promise is the very definition of taboo in this land even if done inadvertentlyRaim is a Driven by Desire young man training to be Yun an elite warrior and likely bodyguard to his best friend in the world heir to the throne Khareh But on what should be his most proud day something terrible happens A promise is broken without any knowledge of what it contained and suddenly Raim is the run Forced into the desert he fights to figure out how he was cursed by an action he had no knowledge of and zero ideas of what he could possible do about itThis is a story about unintended conseuences at least it wants to be In actuality it is a cool premise that unfortunately begs to have holes poked through it Because everything this society believes in will start tearing apart due to the actions of a few and the frailty of this system is an indictment that the society shouldn t have lasted with it for so long Arbitrary age restrictions could be explained away on their own but they are only the start of me outthinking thingsRaim s broken promise a promise made when he was a baby should have never been possible This is the catalyst of the story but and therefore is completely intentional but still should be impossible by the rules as they are lain out Once the conseuences are made clear especially the titular Shadow I was able to guess correctly the other major plot points coming down the pipe The rise of a villain the discovery of a new magic I was not surprised by a major plot point past the first third of the bookDespite having serious issues making any sort of logistical sense out of these details the author really manages to hide these flaws with a uick paced entertainin. R 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 promisingoung 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 the future.

I really loved The Oathbreaker s Shadow It really feels like an epic fantasy with a rich and complex world all without being bogged down by tiresome commentary or exposition Raim s world is fully realized without sacrificing the plot s pacing the story is exciting and imaginative and the ending left me wanting to read the next book immediately to find out what happens The Mongolian influence also sets it apart from other epic fantasy stories I think it would appeal to fans of George RR Martin Diana Wynne Jones s Christopher Chant series Philip Pullman and the Kushiel Trilogy Past the first few chapters which establishes Raim in the context of his community family and friendship with Khareh the story is a fast paced adventure that doesn t stop until Raim figures out the truth about the promise he doesn t remember making His uest takes him from the harsh unforgiving landscape of the desert where he travels with the Alashan connects with Draikh Khareh s spirit and meets Wadi and then to Lazar The last third is really exciting and sets the stage for the following book which I can t wait to get my hands on Amy McCulloch s The Oathbreaker s Shadow sets up as an interesting story and magic system before going off the rails The likeable main character Raim is training to be a member of the Yun the elite warriors for the Khan His best friend is Khareh the son of the Khan but while Raim likes Khareh he is blind to his implied faults which McCullouch implies to the reader Raim and Khareh want to swear oaths to each other when they are of agePromises to each other are imbued with power When two people make a promise and tie a knot to each other the promise is wrapped in magic Break the promise and magic is angrily released The oathbreaker is scarred and the person exiled to the desert In addition the person is haunted by a spirit of the person who was wronged by the promise breakerRaim who is an orphan has a promise bracelet on his arm tied with a knot but he is an orphan and no one knows what was promisedSo McCulloch sets up a promising story and challenge for Raim to find out the meaning of the promise braceletEnter a Sage from the desert who promises that he can teach anyone to be a Sage with awesome power and the inevitable is bound to occurBut whether its because McCulloch has to spend a lot of time doing info dumps or the long buildup to the first big event in the novel I found myself skimming nearly 40% of the book at the outsetThe action did not really pick up until I was around 60% through with the story and then I have to say that Raim seemed less engaging and interesting Yes its a coming of age story and the petulant oungster who must master magic and come to be a man and potential hero is a standard trope in fantasy but I found Raim s eventual awakening just not that engagingSo I skimmed a lot of the beginning of the book and was not enthralled with the action packed late middle and endThat is not good The Oathbreaker s Shadow is a book written by one of the country s most renowned and talented editors Amy McCullough of Harper Voyager That s right adviser has become applicant in a bold move that surely places a lot of pressure on her shoulders to perform You see over the ears Amy has worked on books by George RR Martin Robin Hobb and Raymond E Feist and leads the editing process on work by new and upcoming stars such as Blake Charlton James Smythe and Janet Edwards too Her job revolves around being in regular contact with these kinds of authors advising them of their grammar characters plots and even marketing prowessSo when I heard that she had written a book I was really interested to see how she as an industry expert performed I doubt I was the only one either În excavator (Trilogia Nomilor you know the authors under her watch are going to be checking out the bosses work Anyway here s the blurb Fifteenear old Raim lives in a world where An Accidental Woman you tie a knot for every promise thatou make Break that promise and Poppet (Jack Caffery, you are scarred for life and cast out into the desertRaim 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 promisingoung 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 skinScarred now as an oath breaker Raim has two options run or be killed So The Siege Winter yes when we meet our protagonist Raim he is unbearably close to fulfilling his destiny and becoming a Yun Warrior Since he was aoung man he has been best friends with the future king and should he become a Yun Warrior he is expected to be the closest bodyguard to the King so everything looks rather rosy for him I wouldn t say that Raim is cocky about that fact he is actually uite humble but there is certainly a confidence about him and he has great ambitions and expectation in regards to how his life will play out So when it happens when Raim is shown to have broken a promise and has his future fall from one of guaranteed respect to one of being loathed and wanted dead it is a truly emotional path that we must follow him on breaking a promise in the society that McCulloch has created truly is akin to being a spy or murder in our ownThe setting of The Oathbreaker s Shadow is one that a couple of ears ago when the book was released felt very uniue but today is starting to feel familiar This isn t a bad thing at all McCulloch s novel being set in a hybrid desert society with strong Persian and Mongolian influences I would suggest feels very much like Arabian Nights and it wouldn t be a huge jump to say that Raim shares many traits with characters from such tales such as Aladdin What separates Amy s setting from the numbers that are filtering in is both the beauty of the description that she offers and its seeming authenticity Without going into Jordan esue detail Amy creates vivid images of the scenery and landmarks ou d expect to see in the aforementioned movies or the Prince of Persia gamesWe ve covered it a little already but to give some details on the magic system as the blurb says the novel is set in a world where promises can be magically bound by the tying of a knot Let us say Chalk Cheese you promise meou will never hurt my family we cement this promise by performing a uick ritual and tying a knot that Christmas with Grandma Elsie (The Original Elsie Dinsmore Classics you shall wear as a reminder ofour promise to me Where it gets interesting is that if Doctor Who you were to break this promise perhaps attacking my sonou d end up with a large scar on ഹിമവാന്റെ മുകള്‍ത്തട്ടില്‍ Himavante Mukalthattil your person and a shadow would appear behindou haunting Cinder Royal you letting everyone know thatou re an OathbreakerI felt this was a great concept even so when Myself and Other More Important Matters you consider that the book is for Young Adults The uestion of whoou make a promise to what Downhill Slide you promise and when if everou can make a promise that will destroy Capital Cities/Abc, The Early Years, 1954 1986 your life. Fans of Philip Pullman Jonathan Stroud and George RR Martin are going to love this action filled fantasy novel by an exciting and extremely promotable debut voice in the genreIn the world of fifteenear old Raim Audrey Hepburn you tie a knot for every promiseou make Break that promise and the knot will burst into flames scarring Silent Seduction your skin and forever markingou as an oathbreake.

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Amy McCulloch is a Chinese White author born in the UK raised in Ottawa Canada now based in London UK She has written seven novels for children and young adults and been published in over ten different languagesBefore becoming a full time writer she was editorial director for Penguin Random House Children’s Books In 2013 she was named one of The Bookseller‘s Rising Stars of publishingW