The Oathbound (Valdemar: Vows and Honor, #1)
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The Oathbound (Valdemar: Vows and Honor #1)

4.02 of 5 stars 4.02  ·  rating details  ·  8,580 ratings  ·  110 reviews
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.
Mass Market Paperback, 302 pages
Published July 5th 1988 by DAW
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jeanne
Apr 16, 2013 Jeanne rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Fans of Mulan, Fans of Warrior Women, Feminists, YA Fantasy Fans, Fans of Strong Female characters
Trigger Warning: There are mentions of one of the characters rape that takes place in her past. Nothing too graphic, but there are no warnings for it in any of the blurbs I've seen. It's best for people to be prepared.

Note: This books is a bunch of loosely connected short stories collected into one book. It does not contain the story of Tarma and Kethry's first meeting, Sword Sworn published in the Sword and Sorceresses III Anthology. While this book takes place in the same universe as Lackey's...more
Kathleen
While it is rare for a Valdemar novel, the magically bound best friends in this book are both human. Yes, there is a magically talking dog, but he's completely tertiary, and the horses can't talk at all. This trilogy follows the adventures of a mage and a nomadic warrior--both women who've been done wrong by the world--as they right wrongs and fight demons.

This book was actually a little less girl-powerful than I was expecting. Tarma--the nomadic swordswoman--is taught by spirits who seem to be...more
Chuck
Since I've pretty much run out of Marion Zimmer Bradley titles, I thought I'd try Lackey, who collaborated with Bradley on a book.

I have to say that, overall, I liked this book; I really am intrigued by its two main characters, Tarma and Kethry. Lackey's "world" is, as is most fantasy, a medieval type culture. Tarma is one of the Plains people; Kethry is kind of a Paladin, a warrior with magic powers who is honor bound to do good.

My reservations are that the book is episodic; you can tell that t...more
Rebecca
I will say this -- my favorite aspects of Vows and Honor duology/trilogy/whatever is that the main relationship is between two women and is platonic*. The Oathbound is about two women, Kethry, who used to be a noble of a poverty-stricken house, but after her brother practically sold her into marriage, she took up the path of the mage, and Tarma, a swordswoman from a Nomadic Horse Clan, who became a servant of her peoples' Goddess in order to get revenge on her clan's murder. The two became partn...more
Anila
At the time I first read it, this was the first Mercedes Lackey book set on Velgarth I'd come across. I would later pick up Arrows of the Queen, but at that point all I'd read of her work was the Bardic Voices series - which I'd quite enjoyed.

As introductions to fantasy worlds go, this is by and large a good one. The characters of Tarma and Kethry remain some of my favorites in any Lackey book. (Kethry's granddaughter Kerowyn is probably my ultimate fave.) They're dynamic and engaging, have an i...more
George Straatman
Oathbound is my first foray into the writing of Mercedes Lackey. If I was to characterize this novel, I would say that it was a competently executed, workman-like piece of fantasy fiction. The story wouldn’t be described as epic in scope and I think Ms. Lackey never intended that it should…the parameters of this story are fairly narrow. The two main characters…Tarma and Kethry…are engaging enough, but not overly memorable. If the depiction of men in this novel is any reflection of the author’s v...more
Amanda
The Oathbound was always one of my favorite books by Mercedes Lackey..or, well, it's the set-up for one of my favorite books, The Oathbreakers. My husband and I used this as the 'car book' for a couple of months, reading a chapter or so aloud whenever we were driving somewhere.

It was good for that -- the first half of the book is kind of one story, and the second half is kind of a series of short stories. Consequently, there was a ton of 'refreshing' on the subject at hand that wasn't really nec...more
Amy
Aug 24, 2012 Amy added it
I don't read a lot of short stories, but I really liked this collection. Tarma and Kethry are well thought out, engaging, strong characters.

The stories are a good addition to Valdemar lore - they provide some excellent background on Shin'a'in culture.

Highly recommended for anyone wanting to read some fantasy lore - especially for those who are already Mercedes Lackey fans.
Meagan
For some reason, this Valdemar trilogy has never been one of my favorites. It has all the makings of something I would like, though, magic, intrigues, and kickass ladies fighting in a man's world and protecting women. The episodic nature makes it rather choppy, and in one or two cases the exciting part is glossed over by a scant paragraph or two so that the characters can travel down the road more. The overarching plot isn't introduced until at least halfway through the book, and then it is fill...more
Kendra
Jun 20, 2014 Kendra rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anybody who likes strong women, Sword & Sorcery, very good writing
Shelves: keepers
I am a very big fan of Mercedes Lackey, and with rare exceptions, I have really enjoyed reading her books. That said, the Vows & Honor books stand out as two of my all time favorites. The story is well paced, the characters are well fleshed and the language flows wonderfully. This series is one of those that I recommend to everyone.

This is the first book of the two book set. It is about the adventures of two mercenaries named Tarma and Kethry. The beginnings of Tarma's and Kethry's stories...more
Kristi FitzGerald
This book was recommended to me by a colleague who raved about Mercedes Lackey. It's the first book of hers I've read. I'm not sure if I'll read another. It's full of typo's, some really blatant, some of the sentences don't make sense, her place and 'thing' names are confusing and unreadable/unpronounceable at times and there are pauses in action. In fact, it was 16 pages of 'info dump' before ANYTHING happened and another 40 pages before any real action/adventure. She would foreshadow and then...more
Shelton TRL
World-building; Fast-paced; Atmospheric.

Adult/ YA audience. Mature themes including rape, rape of a child, abuse. Wonderful tale in the sword and sorcery fantasy style. Book has funny moments woven in but is slanted towards a female readership. Two female protagonists have each been abused and wronged by males and are now serving as defenders of wronged women everywhere. There is another novel and a collection of short stories in this series, plus it ties in with Mercedes Lackey's very popular V...more
Ward Bond

The Swordswoman: She was Tarma. Born to the Clan of the Hawk of the nomadic Shin'a'in people she saw her entire clan slain by brigands. Vowing blood revenge upon the murderers, she became one of the sword-sworn, the most elite of all warriors. And trained in all forms of death-dealing combat, she took the road in search of her enemies.... And the Sorceress: She was Kethry. Born to a noble house, sold into a hateful "marriage," she fled life's harshness for the sanctuary of the White Winds, a pow

...more
Jess
Jul 12, 2012 Jess rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Hardcore fantasy fans and hardcore Lackey fans
Shelves: fantasy
I wanted to like this book so bad! It has everything I usually go for in a novel- fantasy setting, awesome lady fighters, and all around bad-assery. But I was sorely disappointed with this messily-arranged hodgepodge of short stories that retell the same tale, abandon interesting plots, and do nothing to keep the reader enthralled. I actually stopped reading with about 40 pages to go, because I was sick of pretending to enjoy it and I knew I wasn't going to miss anything.

This novel takes place a...more
Jennifer
After a re-read many years following my first foray into this series, Tarma and Kethry still hold up. While their story isn't anything new or innovative in terms of the fantasy genre, their relationship certainly is. Tarma and Kethry's partnership is a constant undercurrent, from their disagreements to their brilliant moments of cooperation, and it's really that which makes this book satisfying. Kethry, a physically beautiful, gently born Mage-in-training is the antithesis of Tarma - a strong sw...more
Jordan
Okay, uh, not really sure how I feel about this book. Definitely some mixed feelings. I'll start with the good. I really liked the characters; both Tarma and Kethry were interesting. They were an odd pairing to see together, one being a mage of noble birth and the other a nomadic warrior. Their developing friendship was really enjoyable to read. Although I had to try not to choke on my drink and roll my eyes every time Tarma called Kethry sweetling or any similarly weird pet name. And the side c...more
Lothfleur
J’avoue ne pas être beaucoup plus convaincue qu’avec Les Flèches de la reine. J’ai trouvé que la narration manquait de cohérence, on dirait que l’auteur s’est amusée à tester différentes techniques narratives : d’abord un récit chronologique, puis un bond en avant pour une nouvelle séquence de l’histoire, un autre avec en parallèle une chanson de barde qui a été écrite à la suite des évènements décrits (je n’ai vraiment compris qu’au ¾ du passage), une nouvelle séquence un peu style policier : o...more
Victoria
Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar series provides one of the cornerstones of my reading history. After discovering her when quite young, I still follow new additions to the series - nearly twenty years later! I read and re-read these books over and over again throughout my youth, but I haven't re-read this series in its entirety in a long time - and never as an adult. There are some new books added to the series since the last time I read them, so this re-reading project is pretty exciting for me since...more
J.C. Hart
I was only a few pages in when I first thought that I wasn't going to enjoy the book - there seemed to be a situation placed within the text for the sole purpose of giving the reader a large chunk of information. Typically this kind of info dump turns me right off, but I read on and found myself becoming really engaged with the characters and the story unfolding before me. It's not that there is anything particular unique or revolutionary about the characters or world, but the author does a grea...more
Bibliotropic
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jeremy Preacher
Pulp fantasy in the grand old Conan tradition - wizards, demons, supernaturally talented swordsmen... er, swordswomen... well, it's not *quite* Conan. There's a little more rape-revenge to the various adventures than I really care for - more on that in a bit - and this is very clearly an early work of Lackey's style-wise. The writing is supremely unsubtle and the characters, while fun and vivid, spend a lot of time in "As you know, Bob" conversations or having inner dialogues to make tediously e...more
Ryl
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kara
Um, wow. How did I not read this until now? This book is EXACTLY what I would write if I could write and wanted to write a fantasy novel with a feminist twist.

Maybe I've been reading male-written fantasy for too long, but it was so incredibly refreshing to have two strong, female characters: characters who loved each other, themselves, and fighting injustice. It was like a superhero story in fantasy novel form. Sure, it was a bit unrealistic. And sure, it took itself SUPER seriously. But I finis...more
Nancy Bandusky
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Anna
It really baffles me that this book is rated so well. I found it just... slightly amateur, as if the author had not really practiced her writing much before publishing The Oathbound. It's not entirely bad, definitely readable, yet nothing but that. I'm afraid talented 13-year-olds write pretty much like that.

The composition of the story is rather chaotic - many ideas and attempts to prove various points with random events. Sorry. Not. Working. Characters are rather shallow, but Lackey tries to c...more
Mandi
Not a bad book if you come into it expecting a serial setup. There is technically an overarching plot, but probably three quarters of the book is Kethry and Tarma going on random quests.

I mean I do like the characters well enough. Though I wish Tarma was legit asexual and not "This magic lets me resist the temptation but ooooh hot demon guy." *sigh*
Sbuchler
Genre: High Fantasy

When this came out (back when I was in junior high) this was my favorite book. However, it just doesn’t hold up to re-reading as an adult. It feels like what it is – cobbling together a bunch of short stories. It has a plot, but it’s not as strong as the plots of the stories within it, nor do all the stories in it contribute to that overall plot. The dialogue is weaker then I remember too – the characters doing random comments about themselves or each other that only seemed de...more
h
this is really 3.5 stars. i've read the tarma & kethry books, but not for a good long while. the writing is solid, but this is more a collection of linked stories than a novel, and the way that the characters and their 'stories-thus-far' are constantly retold gets rather grating after a while. other than that, a fun romp with a pair of delightful characters with an author who doesn't shy away from controversial subject matter. (i think this was probably the first place i encountered homosexu...more
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Oct 06, 2010 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Fantasy Fans
I can remember Tarma and Kethry's introduction in a short story in the Sword and Sorceress III anthology, and they stood out to me even then. This particular book is more a collection of those early short stories, rather than an integrated novel like the sequel Oathbreakers, but it's not any less of a good read for that. This starts out as one of those hoary rape and revenge plots, but the characterizations lift this book beyond that. These are two of Lackey's most appealing characters, not just...more
Rory
This novel starts very slowly. Basically, you feel like you missed the first novel. Additionally, it took me a long time to get into the characters. It had potential to be good, if she had developed the background of the characters more at the beginning.
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Mercedes entered this world on June 24, 1950, in Chicago, had a normal childhood and graduated from Purdue University in 1972. During the late 70's she worked as an artist's model and then went into the computer programming field, ending up with American Airlines in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In addition to her fantasy writing, she has written lyrics for and recorded nearly fifty songs for Firebird Arts &...more
More about Mercedes Lackey...
Arrows of the Queen (Heralds of Valdemar, #1) Magic's Pawn (Valdemar: Last Herald-Mage #1) By the Sword (Valdemar: Kerowyn's Tale, #1) Magic's Price (Valdemar: Last Herald-Mage #3) Magic's Promise (Valdemar: Last Herald-Mage #2)

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“Do you know the kind of things that live up there?...things without names 'cause no one who's seen 'em has lived long enough to give them any name besides 'AAAARG!” 39 likes
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