Fifteen-year-old Raim lives in a world where you tie a knot for every promise that you make. Break that promise and you are scarred for life, and cast out into the desert.
Raim has worn a simple knot around his wrist for as long as he can remember. No one knows where it came from, and which promise of his it symbolises, but he barely thinks about it at all—not since becoming the most promising young fighter ever to train for the elite Yun guard. But on the most important day of his life, when he binds his life to his best friend (and future king) Khareh, the string bursts into flames and sears a dark mark into his skin.
Scarred now as an oath-breaker, Raim has two options: run, or be killed.
I always struggle with high fantasy worlds, where there is nothing I recognise from the cultures to the geography. But even though it took me a while to get into it, it was excellent world building and the story was so worth the initial struggle.
It followed Raim as he trains to become a Yun, a warrior, but then is forced to run when he makes a promise to protect Khareh but breaks a promise knot that's been on his wrist all his life. Raim was strong and ambitious and fiercely loyal to his best friend and future leader of his clan, as well as protective of his family. His journey was a tough one as he runs away from his clan and is forced to join other oath breaker's on their way across the desert. He befriends a few unexpected people, all of whom help him out in his quest to find the truth behind the forgotten and now broken promise.
As for Khareh, future Khan/clan leader, he was actually quite annoying. He was stubborn and a bit of a show off and used to getting his way; let's just say I didn't see what Raim saw in him and I saw his power-trip coming from the very beginning. On the other hand, shadow Khareh, who haunts Raim, was pretty cool; he was everything that Raim remember Khareh to be, loyal and strong. And the magic was pretty damn cool, the power of the promise knots and the haunting shadows that embody that broken promise.
All in all, I'm really glad I stuck with it; everything from the intricate story to the scenic descriptions was amazing to read and even though it was quite long, every sentence made sense and added to the plot and character development, especially Raim's. Not exactly what I expected but loved it all the same.
Published 6th June 2013 by Random House.