Top positive review
Great collection of excellent sword-and-sorcery
Reviewed in the United States on March 13, 2019
This collection includes Oathbound, Oathbreakers, and Oathblood. They feature Tarma, an asexual swordswoman extraordinaire who is tutored by the best fighters of her people (even though they are now dead), and Kethry, a mage who has been bound to a sword that makes her an excellent fighter, although the payment is she must help women in need of her services.
Oathbound: This is truly one of the best sword-and-sorcery novels I've read. The heart of sword-and-sorcery is the old-fashioned "buddy novel." This book has the twist that the buddies are women, competent in their fields of expertise. Add to it the sorceress has a magical sword takes over the fighting for her and that negates most of the bad side of being a mage (an actual physical attack will distract or disable most mages in a lot of fiction) so the warrior doesn't have to spend all her time making sure her sworn sister is safe and the stories become more believable. This novel feels episodic as there really isn't an overarching theme.
Oathbreakers: Many times a sequel isn't as strong as the original. Oathbreakers, if anything, is stronger. Less episodic, there's a missing person who ties the whole novel together. Kethry and Tarma are tasked to find her, or to discover her fate. For fans of Valdemar, a herald and his companion do make an entrance. The background to one of Valdemar's alliances is also revealed.
Oathblood: This is a collection of short stories featuring Kethry and Tarma. Some I had read in anthologies. but others were totally new to me. Two had been subsumed into Oathbound. Those I skimmed as I had just read that book and they were nearly the same. Both the characters and the author matured and the stories steadily improved. In the end, I could tell that Tarma and Kethry knew they were good at what they did, but also didn't consider themselves "real" heroes. This quotation sums it up: "There’s your real heroes—the people who keep coping, keep trying, no matter how many blows Fate takes at them. Nobody’ ll make a song about them, but they’re heroes all the same."
People may not realize that there are two CDs created to accompany Oathbound and Oathbreakers. They bear the same title, but are/were put out by Firebird Arts and Music. They include the filk songs (science fiction/fantasy folk songs) that Lackey published about these books. Both are excellent listening. The lyrics are included at the end of this collection.
If you enjoy well-written fantasy, you should certainly have these books in your collection. Highly recommended.