Completed 9/4/2022, Reviewed 9/4/2022
This third book of the Vows and Honor series is actually a collection of short fiction culminating in a novella entitled Oathblood. The novella comes after the first two books chronologically while the short stories take place before and during the first two. A few of the stories were actually incorporated into the first book. I actually liked this book the best of the three, I think because the stories were short and to the point. I also liked how we get a glimpse of the two main characters after their mercenary days are over. It’s all kind of fantasy fluff, but the characters are pretty memorable and unique, especially for the time of their inception.
The story “Oathblood” takes place after Tarma and Kethry settle down with Kethry’s husband and children. They start a school for mage and mercenary training. The beginning of the school is interesting with a wonderful discussion about when acting on revenge is acceptable and when to leave it for the authorities. The beginning of the story is mostly about two’s interaction with the children and gets more serious when two of children are kidnapped.
“Sword-Sworn” is the first story in which the two characters appeared. It was enjoyable reading their genesis story. By reading the first two book, you do get their beginnings and how they met recapped, but having it in its own self-contained short story was nice and entertaining.
Most of the other short stories were interesting because there isn’t necessarily a lot of grand heroic deeds. In fact, they way Tarma and Kethry approach problems is intelligent rather than brute force. So some of the stories end a little anticlimactically, but are much more realistic. I like that there’s a bard who follows them around to try to compose grand epics of their deeds and is constantly thwarted by their brains over brawn approach.
This being the third installment, I don’t have much else to say about this book. The stories are good and quirky. The character development is really marvelous, as is the world-building. On the matter of the latter, this trilogy is actually part of a much larger Valdemar cycle. I doubt I’ll read much more of it, but I just might. I give this book four stars out of five mostly for its completion of a great concept of strong women, one straight and one asexual, their loving bond, and their level-headed approach to righting wrongs. While I thought all the books were a little slow at times, they were an enjoyable read.