Fans of Philip Pullman, Jonathan Stroud, and George R.R. Martin are going to love this action-filled fantasy novel by an exciting debut voice in the genre.
In the world of fifteen-year-old Raim, you tie a knot for every promise you make. Break that promise and the knot will burst into flames, scarring your skin and forever marking you as an oathbreaker. 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 promising young 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 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 place?
Synopsis from Goodreads
I know that this book isn’t exactly the usual genre you would see here, but I had to share. This is a perfect example of how world building should be done. It’s phenomenal. I’d even go so far as to say EPIC! I can’t even imagine the time it would have taken McCulloch to get the whole thing put together, right down to the tiniest detail.
It’s classified YA, but really could bump up against the older MG crowd too. This was proven to me by a time-tested parenting classic: the Supermarket-Wait. This is where you are stuck in a van, waiting for your significant other to hurry up and get the few groceries needed for supper. There is no need to drag everyone into the store, right? ‘Cause it’ll be a scene, we all know it; “That’s not what I want for supper! I want ice cream!” And inevitably you’ll end up spending an hour lost in the aisles, with kids making increasingly obscene demands, knowing that you’re likely to give in, just to avoid the Scene.
…Anyway, so there I was, trapped in a car with bickering kids. “How long is Dad going to take???” *in the whiniest voice possible* So I crack open the book and start reading out loud. Let me go on record to say that my kids have never been so enthralled by a book before. They were totally silent and still. No tugging at seatbelts. No kicking the seat in front of them. No projectile toys. Sword fights and broken promises = kid approved! They’re still way too young to read the whole book with, a little too impressionable to violence (don’t want a sword fight with the steak knives in the living room!), but I was certainly impressed! I wasn’t the only one who was in love with this book!
This book is the perfect choice for reluctant readers of all ages, but especially those teen boys. McCulloch does a fantastic job writing a male lead. Strength of body, strength of mind, disciplined and moral, while remaining far from perfect. Readers will find themselves learning more about the consequences of their choices, without even realizing it.
A copy of this book was provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.