See my review of this book, and many more, at Tales from the Great East Road.
In Raim’s world the words “I promise” are not to be taken lightly. For every promise you make a knot is created that binds you to your word. Breaking that word causes the knot to burn a scar into your skin, labelling you an oathbreaker. Scorn, hatred, and exile will become your life.
It should have been the best day of his life: Raim had just passed the last fight to become a Yun, an honoured warrior, and made a sacred vow to his best friend and Crown Prince, Khareh, until the knot on his wrist bust into flames. It had been with him for as long as he can remember – but he had no idea what the promise was. Running for his life across the desert, haunted by a spectre of Khareh, Raim is determined to discover the origins of his knot and clear his name.
The concept of knot binding for promises is a compelling one. The act of making a promise to another is taken with deathly seriousness, and the stigma surrounding an oathbreaker is ingrained throughout almost all the societies, but to make it worse they are be haunted by an image of the person they betrayed as a constant reminder of their mistake. Raim struggles with being labelled as a traitor and worse, tormented by the belief that he has done nothing to deserve it, and his painful journey arose the desert is one of the best parts of the book.
Although the friendship between Raim and Wabi was thoroughly enjoyable and progressed at a realistic pace, that could lead to a sweet romance in further books, certain situations towards the end gave the impression that Wabi was being used in the typical damsel in distress role in order for Raim to be the hero. This clashes quite strongly with the strong, resourceful young woman who reached out to an outcast boy when no-one else would and snuck into a forbidden city to satisfy her own curiosity.
Despite the first half of the book focusing on the mystery of Raim’s broken promise, this is soon overshadowed by other events and left as one of the many unanswered questions that will, hopefully, be addressed in the next book. The magic system is also slightly confusing and not described in detailed, but, again, more may be giving in the next instalment. The Oathbreaker’s Shadow can also be accused of info-dumping a fair bit, however as the information given about the society and history is very interesting, this issue can be overlooked.
Ignoring these reservations, with its cliffhanger ending and interesting directions with magic and politics, The Oathbreaker’s Shadow is a good read that leaves you looking forward to the sequel.