author: Mercedes Lackey
series: Vows and Honor #1
published: 5 July 1988
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Tarma witnessed her clan's murder and, swearing vengeance, became a master warrior. Kethry fled her forced "marriage" and became an adept--pledging her power to the greatest good. When Kethry obtains a magical sword which draws her to others in need, the two vow to avenge the wrongs done to womanhood.
This is a strong female-centric book set in the bigger Velgrath world in which the Valdemar saga is set. Parts of it originally appeared as previously published short stories, but here they’ve been rewritten to be part of a bigger story.
One of the things I loved most about the saga is the diversity of the cast of characters. In Oathbound, the women have agency, rather than having been relegated to damsels in distress or gratuitously sexualized. Tarma and Kethry are a warrior and a mage respectively, Tarma also a woman of color. Also wonderful is that the two women are not pitted against one another but are supportive and close. In keeping with diversity, there is a positive representation of an asexual character.
There are those that take issue of the off-the-page rapes, including those of a child, and the violence against other women. I understand that, but I also don’t have a problem with that as it is not used as a gratuitous element, but as a character-defining element in the cases of Tarma and Kethry, as well as an accounting of just how villainous the antagonists are.
I found the story deeply engaging, troubling moments and all. There were themes of strength and support, of loyalty and love, of sacrifice for the greater good.