After years of working on their own and building their reputations, Tarma and Kethry joined the ranks of Idra's Sunhawks. It may seem an odd move for two mercenaries to join a company and follow someone else's lead, someone else's rules, but they both know that being part of a good mercenary company will teach them more about their chosen trade and help them go from good to great. It is a lot of work, and their current campaign is both tedious and hard fought in the rain and cold. Thankfully, Tarma and Kethry both have useful skills that have helped them rise within the ranks of the Sunhawks, and those skills are soon put to very good use in the campaign - and beyond.
When Idra returns to her home in Rethwellan to help sort out family business Kethry and Tarma are free to spend time in the Company's home town of Hawksnest - a chance for some much needed rest and relaxation. Their R&R is short lived however, because Idra has not returned from her little trip 'home' and those closest to her are no longer receiving letters from her or news about her. Travelling to Rethwellan is the only way to find out what happened, and it falls to Kethry and Tarma to make the journey to find out what they can.
What they find is worse than they feared - Idra has disappeared without a trace and the no one seems to be willing to speak about Idra or the brother who allegedly betrayed the Crown and his family. When Kethry and Tarma are forced to reveal themselves as more than the horse traders they pretend to be, they have to flee for their lives. It is a race against time and the weather as they flee in the direction of the runaway Prince, hoping to find out what happened to Idra while also dreading what they will find. The truth they uncover on their journey will set them on a path that will bring the wraith of the Sunhawks down on those responsible.
Someone recently reminded me that Mercedes Lackey is sometimes seen as 'puff' fantasy, or not 'serious' fantasy - and they discovered pretty quickly what I thought of that opinion! Pretty covers not withstanding, this is some pretty hard hitting fantasy with some pretty heavy themes. Tarma and Kethry are one of the most enduring fantasy partnerships for me not only because they compliment each other so well, but also because they are not perfect - they fight, they disagree, they have good days, they have bad days, and they face real lose. The challenges they face are also an intriguing mix of brains, battles, and clever disguises.
It was a pleasure to return to their lives and reconnect with them, especially as I moved on to Oathblood as soon as I finished Oathbreakers! I hope to re-read By the sword sometime soon as with all the reminders about Tarma and Kethry it feels like it might be time to reconnect with their 'clan' too.
If you like this book then try:
- Arrows of the Queen by Mercedes Lackey
- Magics pawn by Mercedes Lackey
- Winds of fate by Mercdes Lackey
- The Elvenbane by Mercedes Lackey and Andre Norton
- Throne of glass by Sarah J Maas
- Sing the four quarters by Tanya Huff
- If I pay thee not in gold by Piers Anthony and Mercedes Lackey
- Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey
- Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey
- The diamond throne by David Eddings
- Cast in shadow by Michelle Sagara
Reviewed by Brilla