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The Oathbreaker's Shadow    by Amy McCulloch order for
Oathbreaker's Shadow
by Amy McCulloch
Order:  USA  Can
Doubleday Canada, 2014 (2013)
Hardcover, Paperback, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Fifteen-year-old Raim lives in a nomadic society and is a close friend to Khareh, heir to the throne of Darhan. In their world, knots are tied for promises and breaking them causes scarring, and being shunned as an oathbreaker. After the Honour Age of sixteen, oathbreakers are exiled to live amongst the Chauk across the desert in Lazar.

Khareh was always 'testing the boundaries of what he could get away with and questioning the rules', getting Raim into trouble. Raim has always had an indigo bracelet with a small knot on his wrist, but is unaware of what promise was made on his behalf. His sole ambition is to become a member of the elite Yun guard and he is very close to achieving it.

Then a real sage approaches the Great Khan and catches Khareh's interest. When Raim succeeds in his Yun test, Khareh demands that he swear the Absolute Vow as the prince's Protector. Soon afterwards he's scarred as an oathbreaker - but what promise did he break? He's gone from 'hero to traitor, in one fell swoop' and ends up exiled in the desert.

A tribe of Alashan take Raim and other oathbreakers with them - amongst them is a girl, Wadi, who befriends Raim. They wend their way to Lazar, a bustling city, green and beautiful. There Raim learns to be a sage, helped by the haunt that has shadowed him since the Absolute Vow. He and Wadi leave Lazar and return to Darhan.

There Raim learns that Khareh has betrayed him, using that betrayal to gain power as a sage - he has seized the throne and is power-mad and bent on conquest. Though all seems lost as this first episode ends, Raim is reunited with someone he loves dearly, someone who is able to offer him hope for the future.

This first episode of what will clearly be a series is a little ragged at the start and slow to develop, but it grows steadily in interest to its cliffhanger of a conclusion. It is sure to garner fans.

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