E-book, 290 Pages
Adult/ Progression Fantasy
By: Todd Herzman
“Be ruthless. The strong survive.”
Disclaimer: Read this as a judge for SPFBO 7, the rating reflects my personal thoughts and is not the final rating for the book!
I did not know cultivation/ progression fantasy novels were a thing until I read Cradle series by Will Wight which is one of the most successful self-published books! I was excited when I heard about this one because I wanted to discover more of this genre (Which I like in other media forms like games, anime…etc) and I can say that it did not disappoint!
The story follows Huon who starts as a page (a weak surgecaller) surviving in the forest for 4 years after a tragic event in the past leaving him wanting revenge against one of the seven immortals (The highest ranks for surgecallers). Huon’s life is changed by teaming up with another surgecaller called Bern to face a sabre-tooth in the forest, they then team up and things get worse from there on!
I am going to mention both a subjective and an objective aspects to the book because subjectively I enjoyed it pretty much but objectively it has some criticisms. The writing is good, I believe it is not the author’s debut and I could tell that, I was going through the reviews and people said the writing is better than Herzmans’ earlier works which sounds good to me (I haven’t read his other series).
Huon’s character grows a lot through the story and he gets more powerful too. The problem is that the pacing is fast and the secondary characters don’t get much time before we either leave them or before they are killed which makes connecting to them almost impossible! They’re not flat characters by any means but I think we should have got more time to know them and their backstories so that we can relate to them more.
And speaking of time, I am a fan of fast-pacing and I don’t believe I am saying this but I wish the pacing was a bit slower, we are jumping from one scene to another without much time to breathe which affected my enjoyment of the story. The plot is also a bit vague because I did not know there was an end goal that we were trying to reach but the end of the book was good so I hope the plot is clearer in the next book!
The world-building is excellent, it is the best thing about the book and it screams creativity! I love hard magic systems and Herzman wrote a very solid on here! I loved the way things were explained from the beginning and new questions are always coming to mind. I just wish some things made more sense and were explained more (and still hope they do) like why are surgecallers bound to surgeless people when they are more powerful and have the upper hand and why is being Oathless such a dishonor?
Summary: I really enjoyed Oathbound with its short chapters and fast pacing -Which I believe should have been slowed down- I just wanted more from the characters and the story. I still think it is a very decent start to the series and hope book 2 provides the answers I am looking for!