Review: Oathbreaker (#1) by A.J. Rettger

Rating: 8/10

Synopsis:

For thousands of years, elves and non-humans alike had lived freely until humans colonized their land and forced them into hiding and subjugation. After years of living as slaves or second-class citizens, the elves rebelled, but their uprising failed, and humans remained victorious.

Mario Deschamps, a new graduate of the Knight’s College, sets off to complete his first deed, an accomplishment that will grant him knighthood and into the ordo equestris. But he has huge boots to fill. His late father, a famous knight and considered the Scourge of Bandits, single-handedly ended the Elven Uprising. Mario’s youthful confidence, vanity, and naivety don’t get him far in the real world, and he quickly finds himself trapped in a political climate where tensions are on the rise and war is inevitable.

In a world filled with monsters, outlaws, bounty hunters, demons, and murderous bandits, Mario is forced to make tough moral decisions. In a world fuelled by violence, hate, and bigotry, things are not as clear cut as he once thought. Lines have been drawn, but to complete his task, he must cross them all. With every choice, the consequences weigh greatly on him, leaving him full of guilt and doubting his path . . . and all the while, in the darkness, someone-or something-is waiting for him to break . . ..

A.J. Rettger weaves an epic tale of politics and prejudice, war and depravity, and legacy and destiny in his action-packed debut fantasy Oathbreaker….

Review:

Thank you to Storytellers on Tour for allowing me to give a review for this tour, and all thoughts are mine only.

Oathbreaker is a particularly odd novel. On the one hand, its prologue was slow-paced. On the other hand, the novel becomes much darker when you embark on this journey with Mario. It starts as heroic, with Mario learning about how to become a Knight and making friends along the way before he loses them all. Add to that, bandits and slaveries, spies and Kings, and elves fight against each other, plotting back and forth. Poor Mario who lost his father because King Dryden was a selfish ego-manic has gone through a lot in this book. I enjoyed this novel, but at the same time, I was not a fan of Mario losing his friends. I do think he needed one that could at least stay with him and stop him from making bad decisions.

That said, there is room for improvement in this novel, even if it is a self-debut. The narrator takes far more charge as he needs to sometimes during the prose. The chemistry between Mario and Tiberius was not fully developed out as I would have wanted, and the novel could have had a few hundred pages to expand the story. I wanted to see more of Sir Darius Withers, and the bonding that broke Tiberius’s and Mario’s relationship needed more development. The narrator of this story is often describing Mario’s events, But I wanted to be more with Mario than anything else. At times, the narrator went from being in Mario’s perspective to then shift unexpectedly sometimes. At many points, the story also shifted from moments of showing vs telling within the prose, and some parts of the story should have had more of an emphasis on the showing aspect. That said, it did provide a bit of uniqueness as well. Even the best fantasy novels that show often with their prose, tend to have moments of telling in their description. See, within moments of this story, the author does show moments of brilliance, showing the story. And there’s a lot more of it in the novel. Once I read through Mario’s journey and the obstacles he has to face, I felt immersed. I was on this journey, and this story turned from an epic fantasy novel to a far darker one. That said, it reminded me a lot of Castlevania. There are monsters, beasts, and greedy people in this novel. I also didn’t like many times when Mario had the chance to save people and he didn’t. I think he needs to start acting more like the hero he should be.

However, this story is a classic fantasy read, and there wasn’t much to impress me of new races, of new cultures. But then again, I wasn’t expecting that. If people want to write stories of classic fantasy because they feel that’s where they are strong, why not? I know I’ve said in the past that I’m not necessarily a fan of Medieval European fantasy, because I’ve read a ton of novels on it already, but I don’t mind reading it. So really, this story’s prose is easy to read, and it is very good. However, I had no problem being immersed with the characters, the dialogue and the prose needs some improvement in my opinion. The author worked hard on this novel and writing a fantasy novel, or any novel for that matter is not easy. So, I commend R.J for making a very strong debut. Full credit to the author for adding a Roman fantasy-inspired faction. I am always looking for them, and quite frankly I LOVE the Classical Era, which had legends such as Alexander, Hannibal, Zenobia, Cleopatra, Caesar, Scipio Africanus, Aurelian. Also, Lukas Aurelian is one of my most favorite characters for that matter, a loyal spy to the Emperor. Emperor Vesuvius Vladimir Valerius is an awesome name for an Emperor

I enjoyed this!

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