Oath taken by Meg MacDonald

I started Oath taken by Meg MacDonald years ago, for SPFBO, but although I liked it, I put it aside because—unfortunately!—it was cut and I had to finish the ones still running. While these things happen, time flies and I forget about them for years.

Now I’ve finally managed to start over and finish it, and as I expected, I should have done it sooner!

This is a gas lamp fantasy filled with politics, religion, intrigue and airships!

This book doesn’t hold your hand. It’s complex and the plot has a bit of a slow start, which I didn’t mind because I liked the tone and world enough to get hooked right from the start. You are not told everything, and either take things and move on, or you will get lost. It worked really well for me, I felt like I always knew enough to be engaged, but had enough mysteries and unknowns to want to keep reading and learn more!

The main characters are Aralt, who swore to protect the boy Lian with her life, but lost him three years ago, presumed dead. Lian suddenly reappears, but we have no idea what has happened to him in the meantime, and he has changed from the naive boy he was. He is very mystical, sometimes young and insecure, but other times wise beyond his years and somewhat mysterious.

Aralt on the other hand had his own tragic past, which he didn’t really deal with. He’s definitely not in the right place to have such a close bond with a kid, but there’s no choice for either of them.

Their complicated relationship, once based on love and loyalty, is now strained by the fact that they barely know each other. The things they went through were handled really well and gave great depth to the story.

I loved the tartan-inspired backdrop! The landscape, the kilts, part of the culture and the language, you know?

The worldbuilding was well done, with a strong sense of setting and culture that enhanced the flavor and world rather than feeling anachronistic. One character’s dialogue went a little too far into the language, to the point where I found it difficult to understand. However, in a way not unlike how I feel when speaking to someone with heavy dialect in real life, so while I would have preferred a less tortuous linguistic inventiveness, at least it felt realistic.

The world is full of interesting ideas to discover and I can’t wait to see more of them in future books!

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