A friend of mine recommended a fantasy called Oath of the Outcast, by C. M. Banschbach. After reading the good reviews of the book, I dove into the story, and I finished quite impressed.
Premise & Worldbuilding
Oath of the Outcast has a story with good depth, as the plot begins with a few curious twists that pull the reader in. There’s plenty of worldbuilding, unique terms, and even a map (a big plus for me!) that complements the story. Set in a lowland coastal region, the story made heavy use of littoral terms like ‘seagulls’ and ‘Seabright’ that gave off a unique feel. This contrasts with the highlanders, a sect of people further inland.
The various families and factions were also added to the depth of the world. The author included an appendix detailing each family and their clansmen, as well as traits of said clan. Further terms like language were included.
The characters were excellent with their emotions, motives, and story arcs. The main protagonist, as somewhat of an antihero, acts as the leader of a clan of outlaws. Banished by his own clan, his family; this created great tension for the protagonist and kept the pages turning. I particularly enjoyed the subplot relationship between the two brother protagonists. The antagonists were splendid, multi-faceted, and drove the plot along.
The magic came across as unexplored and underdeveloped. Other than the druids and their demon god, little is explained on the matter—though the voodoo doll magic was quite original. Like Sword of Fire, this story could use more magical intrigue to spark reader interest. Granted, there may be more of that in the sequels. Fingers crossed!
The tension and pacing were great in Oath of the Outcast. Characters and their tribes carry personal grudges towards the protagonist and his rogues, who operate outside the law. Meanwhile, the antagonist and the druids seek the coming of their demon lord through ritual blood sacrifice. A few scenes had the protagonist in torment at the hands of the druids; the author did a fine job accentuating the stress upon the hero, and the conflict had me sympathizing with his plight. There were also emotional scenes between the protagonist and his brother, a love-hate relationship despite the decree of banishment upon the protagonist’s name.
Oath of the Outcast had magnificent tension, characters, and presented the hero’s story well. The protagonist suffered constantly throughout the story and evoked great sympathy with me, the reader. I’ve rarely seen stories with such depth like this one.
More of a nitpick: there were a handful of typos that pulled me from the immersion of the story. The prose could benefit from another round of edits. Also, there were no mythical creatures (elves, dwarves, dragons, etc.) so this was a blander shade of fantasy—again, more of a personal taste.
Some of the torture scenes were grisly, albeit well done.
Oath of the Outcast was a solid story that had more strengths than flaws. It’s worldbuilding, conflict, and characters helped it shine. Despite the typos and underdeveloped magic system, I enjoyed the tale from start to finish. I’ve planned on book two and look forward to finishing the series.
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Aspectä rey’lief, fair reader, and thanks for reading!
—Ed R. White