The Oathbreaker's Shadow (The Knots Sequence, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

The Oathbreaker's Shadow (The Knots Duology #1)

3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  625 ratings  ·  105 reviews
Fifteen-year-old Raim lives in a world where you tie a knot for every promise that you make. Break that promise and you are scarred for life, and cast out into the desert.

Raim has worn a simple knot around his wrist for as long as he can remember. No one knows where it came from, and which promise of his it symbolises, but he barely thinks about it at all—not since becomin...more
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published June 6th 2013 by Random House Children's Publishers (UK) (first published June 4th 2013)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Oathbreaker's Shadow, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Oathbreaker's Shadow

Splintered by A.G. HowardTaken by Erin BowmanMILA 2.0 by Debra DrizaThe Madman's Daughter by Megan ShepherdThe Cadet of Tildor by Alex Lidell
YA Debuts 2013
89th out of 522 books — 2,367 voters
Secrets of the Realm by Bev StoutDualed by Elsie ChapmanTaken by Erin BowmanPivot Point by Kasie WestLet the Sky Fall by Shannon Messenger
2013 Debut Authors of Young Adult & Middle Grade
52nd out of 186 books — 652 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
I have only one word to describe The Oathbreaker’s Shadow. Painful. It’s a rare book I would compare to an instrument of torture, but there are so many things wrong with this, between the massive infodumps, the meandering story, the loose plot threads that go nowhere, the poorly thought out magic system, the fast and loose characterizations, the blatant cultural (mis)appropriation, I am not exaggerating when I say I literally felt like I was being tortured every time I read one more agonizing wo...more
Robin Hobb
I know it is often a part of a fantasy review, but it's so true. An original and unique magic system in a book is like finding a wonderful new spice in a dish. It gives the tale a unique flavor.

This is a tale of friendship and loyalty and betrayal. Of power and outcasts. It's a good solid story. I recommend it.
3.5 stars - I struggled with the book at first because I was bored with all of the history that McCulloch felt the need to lay out all at once and frustrated with way too many characters for me to keep track of that I had to keep looking back. But the story picked up about the halfway point, and I found myself really liking it. I am, however, frustrated that I still have so many questions, but I am eager for the next one to come out.

First of all, I think the concept is really interesting. Howeve...more
Stuti (Turmeric isn't your friend. It will fly your ship

This is hurting my head.

Like, giving me an actual migraine. Or what I think a migraine feels like. I've never had one before or I did and I just couldn't identify it. When DOES a headache turn into a migraine? Is there a significant and distinguishable margin, like you coalesce from one range of pain into another much more terrible one? Or is it just more cool to say you've got a migraine? I'm not good at biology. The only thing I've figured out by far is that migraine gives you that weird p...more
Apr 09, 2013 Jon marked it as to-read
Shelves: fantasy, wishlist
When I saw this book's cover, I instantly thought of Jake Gyllenhaal in the movie Prince of Persia!
Demitria Lunetta
Recommended for fans of: YA Fantasy

The premise for this fantasy novel is unique and I love the idea that there are real consequences to breaking a promise. You are immediately thrown into Raim’s world, and McCulloch’s world building is fantastic. I also like how severe and unwavering Raim’s society is. They have rules for a reason and breaking those rules means banishment. Even Raim’s status can’t save him. It’s a set up for a fast-paced, suspenseful story.
Marc Aplin
The Oathbreaker’s Shadow is a book written by one of the country’s most renowned and talented editors, Amy McCullough of Harper Voyager. That’s right; adviser has become applicant in a bold move that surely places a lot of pressure on her shoulders to perform. You see, over the years Amy has worked on books by George R.R. Martin, Robin Hobb and Raymond E. Feist, and leads the editing process on work by new and upcoming stars such as Blake Charlton, James Smythe and Janet Edwards too! Her job rev...more
Trisha de Guzman
I really loved The Oathbreaker's Shadow. It really feels like an epic fantasy with a rich and complex world, all without being bogged down by tiresome commentary or exposition. Raim’s world is fully realized without sacrificing the plot’s pacing, the story is exciting and imaginative, and the ending left me wanting to read the next book immediately to find out what happens. The Mongolian influence also sets it apart from other epic fantasy stories. I think it would appeal to fans of George R.R....more
Kate Ormand
THE OATHBREAKER’S SHADOW is an exciting YA fantasy adventure set in a vivid and fascinating world.

I loved the magic in this novel - the knots and the shadows in particular. In Raim’s world, to make a promise to someone is taken very seriously. So much so that knots are tied between two people to represent the pledge, and if it is broken, the oathbreaker is physically scarred. Once discovered, an oathbreaker is captured and killed, or banished to the desert. Not only that, but they are then haunt...more
Initial thoughts: 4-5 stars. Fantastic debut for author Amy McColloch. Loved the world, the characters, the story. Suitable for middle grades and up. Well done.

The review: I really enjoyed The Oathkeeper’s Shadow. Right away, I was transported to a world where one’s word carries a lot of weight. No broken promises here. A broken oath is a heinous crime and the oathbreaker is subjected to either death or excommunication.
In addition, an oathbreaker is followed by a shadow, usually the spirit of a...more
Stefan Fergus
(Really 4.5*)
I really enjoyed this: the world, characters, magic and the story were great.

There were a couple of minor issues with flow, and maybe a passage here or there which didn't quite work for me, but I am absolutely champing at the bit for book two.

McCulloch's created a world that is very easy to sink in to, and I was hooked from the start. Love the Mongolian-esque feel.

I also have an idea of how Raim will win in the end, but I'm not 100% sure I'm right. Frustrating I'll have to wait so l...more
Laura Lam
A wonderful, rich YA epic fantasy with a Mongolian influence with great characters and a message of the value of promises and the consequences of breaking them. Full review/blurb pending.
Amy McCulloch has created a very interesting world where promises made have much higher consequences than we are used to. Promises are made by tying knots and if your break your word you are not only scarred for life but also followed around by a shadow that shows the whole world you are an oathbreaker. Oathbreaker's are ostracised by the rest of society and forced out into the desert alone as exiles. If they manage to survive the journey there is one place they can go but they will never be all...more
Ornella (Nyx)
2.5 Stars

I was so excited to read this book. It has such a unique concept and setting, so I was all pumped to start reading. Not 10 chapters later I was already struggling to keep going...

I don't even know what was really the problem. Yes the pace was really slow at the start (Read 80%) but it's not like nothing at all was happening. The writing was excellent and Raim was alright for the most part. I guess it was just a combination of all the little things that started bothering me.

The slow paci...more
Kat's Review

I love supporting Canadian authors, so I jumped at the chance to review a copy of this book. The cover is incredible, and the synopsis intrigued me. It sounded like such an adventurous story, the type I would want my sons to read when they're old enough.

Ms. McCulloch builds a complex world that requires quite a bit of investment on the part of the reader, particularly for the first third of the book. This could get a bit tedious for some readers, but I think that it makes sense as t...more
Lu (Sugar & Snark)
What if there was a way that all your promises could be kept, that if anyone broke a promise they made to you, you would know? What if the person that betrays your trust would be haunted by your ‘haunt’ for the rest of their lives and even get an ugly scar in the process? Would you do it? Would you be ok with them being exiled out of the community? If yes, then let me ask you this: What if you made a promise you couldn’t remember and at anytime you could break it? Would you want to live in a wor...more
Emma Pass
In Darhan, promises are everything. When you make a vow, it is bound by magic and tied into a promise knot, which you wear until the day you die. Should you break that vow, you become an outcast, scarred and unwanted, doomed to wander the desert where your every move is dogged by a merciless spirit known as a haunt.

Fifteen-year-old Raim has had a promise knot around his wrist since he was born. No-one can tell him why, or what promise was made, but he hardly notices it any more: he’s too busy tr...more
Review first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7

I received a copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Amy McCulloch's The Oathbreaker's Shadow is a fantasy young adult novel that I was wary of reading, simply because the fantasy genre and I aren't exactly friends. I've read a couple of fantastical novels that have (thankfully) been quite good and The Oathbreaker's Shadow is one of those novels that made me a fan of the genre.

McCulloch's expertly created world, interesting array of...more
Liz Jager
I loved The Oathbreaker's Shadow. The world is rich and evocative and the way it's described made it feel lovely and real. Raim is a great main character and I enjoyed his character growth right from the beginning of the book to the last page - it left me wanting more! The bad guy was just duplicitous enough to make me dislike him intensely and yet admire him for playing the people around him so well. I think Ms. McCulloch has done something really special here - there are hints of Robin Hobb an...more
Polly Holyoke
This was such a great read. If you like richly imagined worlds and epic fantasy, you should give THE OATHBREAKER'S SHADOW a try. I've read so much in this genre over the years, and many books seem like Tolkien derivatives to me. But this one forges new ground with such a fresh and clever premise based on the importance of keeping and breaking oaths. I'm only sorry I have to wait for the sequel!

An exciting debut that mixed several fantasy tropes but with a unique magic system and a desert landscape managed to enthrall me thoroughly. A debut that is very indicative of the author's imagination and I'll be very much excited for the sequel.
Melissa Landers
A richly detailed YA fantasy with a heroic, sympathetic hero we can cheer for. Excellent world building! Well done, Amy!
I loved this book. I love the concept of using magic to bind promises. I love the idea of being literally bound to your word with the knots. I found the setting very interesting. The characters were a little stiff at times, but this could be excused because of the extremely formal culture they were in. I think the haunts of the oathbreakers are fascinating, especially once we learn more about them. There's good foreshadowing, symbolism, world building.... everything I demand from a fantasy story...more
Serendipity Reviews
Originally published at
I was excited about this book from the first time I heard about it and I was really pleased it didn’t let me down. This is an extremely well written, evenly paced action novel that engulfs you and transports you to a world of fantasy. I can’t believe how quickly I was lost in the story. The premise just blew me away. The idea of promise knots that can be broken to cause someone a life time of misery is just outstanding. Two people make a promis...more
This novel had me intrigued from the moment I saw the cover and read the synopsis. I have always been a fan of fantasy and this book certainly did not disappoint. It is filled with action, great characters and a world that I hope never actually exist in real life- because I know would never survive.

Amy McCulloch had weaved a world like none other I have never read, A world where a knotted promise means everything. Raim, our fifteen year old narrator has always known that tying a knot meant every...more
G.R. Mannering
Video Review:

In Darhan promises are tied into knots and bound by magic. Vows are made for life and if broken, the betrayer is left physically scarred, cast out into the desert and haunted by evil shadows.

When Raim pledges his life to protecting the future Khan, he accidentally breaks a mysterious promise that has encircled his wrist since his birth. Who did he make the promise to? And how can he break an oath he has no recollection of making?

Regardless, Raim has a ch...more
In Raim's world, you tie a knot for every promise you make. If you break that promise the knot will burst into flames, scarring your skin, 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 h...more
Andrea (Cozy Up With A Good Read)
This and other reviews can be found on Cozy Up With A Good Read

I was really interested in the idea of this book when I first heard about it, a story that revolves around keeping promises to your family and friends, and if you break that promise you are exiled from your community. After finishing this book, I can definitely say that Amy McCulloch's story really makes me want to really think about promises before I make them. It took me a bit of time to get into the story, but there was a certain...more
Amazing. Remarkable. Incredible... I cannot think of enough words to describe how great this book is. 'The Oathbreaker's Shadow' was captivating and thrilling from start to finish and had me reading for hours on end until I was told to stop and start revising for exams. Reluctantly I did stop.

Amy McCulloch has created a beautiful world that meets (if not exceeds) the standard of worlds created by JK Rowling and George R.R. Martin. This book is filled with a cast of characters that you will ador...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
  • The Cadet of Tildor
  • The Night Itself (The Name of the Blade, #1)
  • The Lost Sun (The United States of Asgard, #1)
  • Relic
  • Vengeance Bound
  • The Holders (Holders, #1)
  • The Key & The Flame
  • Maid of Secrets (Maids of Honor, #1)
  • The Elites
  • Tides
  • After Eden (After Eden, #1)
  • Coda (Coda #1)
  • City of a Thousand Dolls (Bhinian Empire, #1)
  • The Ward (The Ward, #1)
  • Sunny Sweet Is So Not Sorry
  • Brianna on the Brink
  • The Flame in the Mist
  • Starglass (Starglass, #1)
Amy McCulloch is a Canadian living in London, who fits writing around work as a Editorial Director at one of the UK's leading children's publishers.

She was bitten by the travel bug at an early age while accompanying her parents on buying trips around the world for their oriental carpet business. It was this love of travel that inspired her to set a novel in a hot, desert location (moving to freez...more
More about Amy McCulloch...
The Shadow's Curse (The Knots Duology, #2)

Share This Book