Oathbreaker’s Shadow by Amy McCulloch

June 1, 2013

I received a free review copy of Oathbreaker’s Shadow via Netgalley.  Oathbreaker’s Shadow is a young adult fantasy novel by Canadian writer Amy McCulloch.  It tells the story of Raim and how he falls foul of his society’s taboo against pathbreaking.  A key part of the novel is Raim’s friendship with the young heir to the realm.

What I liked

Excellent setup.  The description of the society in which Raim lives and the taboo against oathbreaking are very well written and are easily accessible.  The reader can empathise with Raim’s plight and sense of loss at his exile.  

Moral dilemma.  The moral dilemma of Raim’s oath conflicting with what he later feels to be the right course of action is also very interesting and well written.

Weaving of threads together.  I particularly appreciated the way the various threads of the story started to come together, such as the link between oathbreakers and sages.  That seemed to me especially well done.

What I didn’t like

Poor payoff.  Initially, the author seems to be setting up the mystery of Raim’s broken promise as the central storyline of the (series?) of novels.  It’s introduced right away, and solving it is a major motivator of many of Raim’s actions.  Personally, I was heavily invested in this storyline – probably more so than in the character of Raim himself – and was disappointed that it was sidelined.

Weak ending.  I also felt the ending could have been stronger.  It seemed neither a proper closure nor proper setup for a sequel.  The book ends with various storylines for Raim to pursue and he states his priority to be following up the weakest of these.

In all fairness, these criticisms are very personal; my enjoyment of the book was lessened because the author chose not to develop a plotline in which I was particularly engaged to the extent that I wished it to be developed.  That need not discourage you from reading Oathbreaker’s Shadow, which is, all in all, an enjoyable read.

I gave Oathbreaker’s Shadow three and a half stars out of five.

 buy on Kindle and Kobo

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