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S. R. Vaught & J. B. Redmond – Oathbreaker, Vol. 1: Assassin’s Apprentice

July 16, 2009

85. Assassin’s Apprentice by S. R. Vaught and J. B. Redmond (2009)
Oathbreaker, Volume 1

Length: 320 pages (ARC – Amazon says the finished edition is 384.)
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

Oathbreaker, Vol. 1: Assassin’s Apprentice was published in the U.S. by Bloomsbury Children’s Books on 09 June 2009. You can pick up a copy for yourself at Amazon.

Started: 04 July 2009
Finished: 11 July 2009

Where did it come from? The lovely Anna at Bloomsbury Publishers.
Why do I have it? It was new YA epic fantasy that looked interesting.
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 25 June 2009

A big career change:
From pigboy to assassin
in only one book.

Summary: Aron Brailing is a ordinary young man living an ordinary life on his father’s farm when the Harvest comes. But the Harvest is not a simple matter of farming, rather, it’s the time when Stone Brothers – members of Eyrie’s formal guild of assassins – come to claim boys from their families and take them to be trained in the ways of the guild. When Aron is chosen by the High Master Stormbreaker, his ties to his family are formally severed, and he must learn to adapt to his new life and his new companions. For Aron has a powerful magical gift that he must learn to control, with the help of Stormbreaker and Dari, a young woman who too is more than she seems. And it is a dangerous time to be special: one of the ruling lords has committed a terrible atrocity that has provoked a war, and Aron finds that he his enemies without – as well as within.

Review: When I picked this book up, I was hoping from the title and the blurb that it was going to be something really unique and original. Unfortunately, it didn’t have the most auspicious beginnings: a boy living on a pig farm at the far isolated reaches of the kingdom, who is forced to leave the farm due to a magical power he didn’t even know he had, before the bad guys come sweeping down upon him. Sound familiar, anyone? It’s the pigboy parable, all over again, and no matter how you dress it up, it’s a story that fantasy fans have seen many times before.

Fortunately, Assassin’s Apprentice did branch out a bit once Aron was away from the farm. It’s still fairly standard fantasy coming-of-age fare, but the idea of a formalized guild of assassins is interesting, as is the magic system and its relation to bloodlines. The “about the author” section states that Redmond is a lifelong fantasy fan, and that much is clear from the story: Assassin’s Apprentice is certainly evocative of many of the genre’s staples, although it never quite reaches far enough beyond them to become a stand-out in its own right.

Part of my hesitation about this book is that I didn’t particularly connect or empathize with Aron, and he’s the character with whom we spend the most time. Actually, the order in which I found the main characters the most interesting (Stormbreaker, Dari, and then Aron) is exactly inverse to the amount of time we spend with each of them. There are plenty of hints about interesting things to come in the second volume, A Prince Among Killers (due out in November), but in this one, Aron’s journey, both physical and mental, stuck a little too close to formula to command my full attention.

The writing itself was well-done, apart from a few minor glitches. There was a little too much focus on naming things, and not enough on explaining them (I’m still not particularly clear on the differences between the various races, and what exactly happened during the Mixing Wars, for one.) Also, there were a few story points that came out of nowhere and then were dropped just as quickly, which was distracting. However, for the most part the narrative, descriptions, action, and dialogue flowed smoothly – I just wish they had been flowing along storylines that weren’t quite so well worn. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: Younger fantasy fans, particularly boys, will most likely eat this book up. For older (and more extensively read) fantasy fans, it’s not the most original new book out there, but it’s certainly an entertaining entry into the genre.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Links: Susan Vaught’s webpage

Other Reviews: Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

First Line: Hot winds blew across the Watchline, twisting rusted wires against rotted fence posts.

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14 Comments leave one →
  1. July 16, 2009 12:03 pm

    Sounds interesting, but nothing I need to rush out and get! Thanks for the review!

  2. July 17, 2009 3:23 pm

    The title keeps throwing me off with this one. I see it, I think Robin Hobb. I tell myself that no, they’re unconnected… but then I see it again, and I think Robin Hobb. Sigh. I suppose there’s something to be said for unique titles.

  3. July 17, 2009 5:17 pm

    Kailana – You’re welcome. :D

    Memory – I’ve been having the same problem, and I haven’t even read the Robin Hobb one. That’s why I included the series name in the post title… too confusing otherwise.

  4. Nikki permalink
    December 17, 2009 6:59 pm

    i read the book and it good, but the 2 was sort of weak it was ok but not great.I wonder if they will make a 3rd at the end it seems that they could have a 3rd….?

  5. Maddy permalink
    August 10, 2010 3:08 am

    well i thought they were both great, and i believe they are for girl readers as well. the only down point was that Storm breaker who i just love!!! seems to have a sad ending. sure Aron gets to fly off with Kate and live happily ever after, Dari ends up the Lady Mab and has her family and unborn son, but Stormbreaker isnt with Rakel and Dari doesn’t love him like she did and Aron left him!!! so is beautiful Stormbreaker destined to live a lonely life as the leader of Stone, without love or his friends? poor Stormbreaker.
    but i agree it sounds like their could be a third.

    • Angel93 permalink
      December 8, 2010 10:22 pm

      Deffinately!!! I LOVE Stormbraker to and i think that his ending was un-fair, and that there should be a third, so you can find out what happened to him.

    • Seth permalink
      January 6, 2011 6:18 pm

      Lord Dunstan wasn’t left alone, he has Raaf, Windblown, and everyone he grew up with. Yes he doesn’t get a girl but neither did Aron, Aron is truly a misguided soul and on several levels relatedable by Guys like me, 16 coming of manhood, in love, betrayed by several people. He has bad times, he has one moment of happiness in the books, Flying with Kate, who just might possibly be the girl for him. You forget Dari had already acted more to Aron than Stormbreaker after Aron seen her Dragon form, Stormbreaker had lost Dari when he told her he didn’t want her, my opinion Stormbreaker will find a women of stone if the authors decide to give him love, but Dunstan will be in charge of setting stones after his own sister and former apprentice and friend. and he will choose the honor of stone over them, its his way of life.

  6. Jack permalink
    August 17, 2010 8:25 pm

    I loved both books, but I’d really like there to be a third. It needs a better finish than what its got already. Maybe something happens to dari’s baby, and Aron goes back to help. Then they could have a bit of a reunion…………….come along storm breaker, and then………………well what ever.

  7. Adeshwat permalink
    September 8, 2010 1:19 am

    Can u help me

    What does Galvin Herder leave open when Zed and Aron ride their talons?

    • Unknown permalink
      September 30, 2010 7:53 am

      because he opened the gate that put the horses to one side and the talons to another side. Talons are preditors so when they smelt the horse’s they got crazy with hunger.
      And he hope arron would get introuble from not ‘controlling’ the talons probably.

  8. Trish permalink
    October 21, 2010 9:34 pm

    I am an elementary librarian and my students love this book. It is especially popular among my 6th grade boys who prefer teen level books. My own 8th grader loved it. Don’t brush it off because you don’t like the title of the cover. The boys who like these books tend to like Rick Riordan, Ranger’s Apprentice, Hunger Games and Maximum Ride.

  9. Seth permalink
    January 6, 2011 6:06 pm

    Actually i disagree with this review, it did start familiar but as soon as it started the climb to the climax it made several new and interesting turns. i have read both books of this series and i especially love the Legacies or “graal”, or as this reviewer wrote “magic”. Graals aren’t your typical power, the people of the land were born with a talent due to the family they are from, and it is a new concept, “a world carved above the world” makes it seem as if you can see into anything and everything from sitting still. i won’t ruin the book but i suggest you read it, it was a very good book series, and if i guess correctly it could be added onto due to the cliffhanger at the end of “A Prince Among Killers” which made me both happy and sad at the same time.

  10. Seth permalink
    January 6, 2011 6:11 pm

    “Stormbreaker” doesn’t need an ending, his time is summed up, Aron,Kate,Dari,Wolf are some characters that have yet to have an ending, Aron is falling for Kate, that is obvious, Dari is left with a baby and dead husband, Wolf is a possible candidate for the Brailing Dynast, so there is too much open. Will they hunt down SnakeKiller? will they hunt Aron? will Aron realize he did no wrong and kill the stone after him? What will Stormbreaker, i mean Lord Dunstan decide to do with his misdeeds? 3rd book is eagerly awaited, im 16 btw and my friends loved these books too, good series good authors.

  11. Seth permalink
    January 6, 2011 6:24 pm

    Oh and Reviewer i forgot to answer your question about the mixing wars. Thorn was rounding up Fae and making them mate with Streegans to build a super Graal, thing kept going wrong and with too much mixing the graal seemed to fade away from the Fae people, thats why borderline families reclaimed the powers they had lost, being away from the terrible disaster and being able to mate freely with Fae of their dynast building the graals back up. the “races” werent races just different nationalities like Altar people had a different graal than the different dynasts.

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