The Oathbound (Vows and Honor #1; Valdemar #4)

The Oathbound - Mercedes Lackey

Skimmed the last 25%


It started out promising but then it crashed, hard and fast, and somehow just kept getting worse. This book is like that awkward kid who tries too hard to fit in with the cool kids: cringe-worthy and embarrassing. I can see what it was trying to do, but to say it's been done better before is putting it mildly. I don't even know where to start with this one, so list!


1) So. Much. Rape. Most of it's off-page, but it's like Lackey thinks this is the only threat women face. Well, that and murder after said rape.


2) And it's bad enough that it's used so often and so cavalierly, but then our heroines don't even have to deal with the trauma because of mystical, magical healing, which just further cheapens it and belittles every rape victim ever. If you're going to use it, be ready to deal with the consequences of it. (The same issue happened with Talia in the last Arrows book too. I'm sensing a trend here, and it's not a good one.)


3) Too repetitive and too scattered. I thought this was setting up Kethry to confront her brother and the dirtbag he sold her to, but that was over and done - largely off-page - by 23%. The brother could show up again, I suppose, but that would be rather anti-climatic at this point. Also, every time they met someone new who needed their help, we had to see them described all over again, from their looks to their weird bond to their abilities and on and on. (After writing this, I also found that this was a collection of short stories that they tried to package as a single story, which explains a lot of the pacing issues and repetition.)


4) The idiocy of a sword that only women can use, but not against other women, and that can turn a completely untrained person into a master swordswoman. I know this is fantasy, but you can't just write "cuz magic, yo!" to explain everything. This stretched my ability to suspend disbelief. I mean, what happens if a man picks it up? Does it become so heavy it's impossible to move? Does it just freeze itself in midair somehow? Does it freeze the man? Tarma tries to use it once against a woman and it's described as awkward, which doesn't really explain anything.


5) Lackey can't write action, and there's a lot of action in this one, when it's on page anyway.


6) So you have a rapist. You go to bring him to justice. You use your powers to make him look like a woman and send him off to his band of rapists so he can get some of his own medicine. Um... what? Do I really have to spell this one out? And not surprisingly, it comes back to bite them in the ass, as it should have.

(show spoiler)


These women are awful. The writing here is somehow both banal and gross. If this is what Lackey's idea of woman empowerment, I'll pass. Next time I want to see two women with a sacred bond righting wrongs and signing songs, I'll watch Xena.


This review includes a lot more of the issues I had with this book, but didn't have the energy to include in my review. Warning for spoilers.