For other uses of 'Oathbound,' see the disambiguation page.

From publisher's description:

She was Tarma, born to the Clan of the Hawk of the nomadic Shin'a'in people; she saw her entire clan slain by brigands. Vowing blood revenge upon the murderers, she became one of the sword-sworn, the most elite of all warriors. And trained in all forms of death-dealing combat, she took to the road in search of her enemies...

She was Kethry. Born to a noble house, sold into a hateful "marriage," she fled life's harshness for the sanctuary of the White Winds, a powerful school of sorcery. Becoming an adept, she pledged to use her talents for the greatest good. Yet, unlike other sorcerers, Kethry could use worldly weapons as well as magical skills. And when she became the bearer of a uniquely magical sword which drew her to those in need, Kethry was led to a fateful meeting with Tarma.

United by sword-spell geas and the will of the Goddess, Tarma and Kethry swore a blood oath to carry on their mutual fight against evil. The blood oath also allowed Tale'sedrin's clan to remain alive by having the clan live through Kethry's children. And together, swordmaster and sorceress set forth to fulfill their destiny.


Six months after they met, Tarma and Kethry are heading to the Plains to claim the clan banner. (The story of their meeting is not included in this novel. That novelette, "Sword-sworn," was originally published in Sword and Sorceress III in 1986, and later collected in Oathblood.)

They run out of money near Mornedealth, Kethry's home town and the location of her young life's great tragedy. Kethry faces her past and overcomes it. They reach the Plains, but after several months they are restless. They recognize the need for money to restart the Clan, and to fund their proposed school. A reputation is also needed to attract people to both, so they decide to leave the Plains and make their mark in the world.

Travelling through the Pelagirs Forest again, Kethry tries to summon a kyree for a familiar, but when it shows up, Warrl bonds with Tarma instead.

Kethry owns a magical sword, Need, which supplies her with an expert physical combat ability that is not expected from a mage. The drawback is that the sword calls upon the owner when a woman is in need of help, and a desperate call cannot be denied. When it summons them this time, Kethry has to solve a locked-room mystery while Tarma fights an endurance contest to the death. (This is from a novelette, "Keys," originally published in Sword and Sorceress V in 1988, and later collected in Oathblood.)

They are next summoned by Need when women are being sacrificed to a powerful demon, Thalhkarsh, to fuel his quest to become a god. Fighting him and banishing him back to the Abyssal Plane adds substantially to their reputation. (This is from a novelette, "Blind Desire," originally published in Fantasy Book in 1986.)

Their next mission is more mundane: to find the bandits raiding pack trains, and if possible, rescue the girls who went missing. They join a trip in disguise to solve the mystery, fight the bandits, and put an ironic curse on the bandit leader. The telling of this adventure is interspersed with verses from a song written to celebrate it, Threes. (This story is from a novelette, "Turnabout," originally published in Fantasy Book in 1985. It was Mercedes Lackey's first professional publication. The story was later collected in Oathblood.)

Later, the bandit leader hires a mage to remove the curse. The mage foolishly summons "Kethry's greatest enemy" - bringing Thalhkarsh back. Now the angry demon is out for revenge on the pair, in addition to his demands for sacrifices. The ensuing conflict is the greatest and most traumatic battle that they have ever faced together. (This is from a story, "Should Old Acquaintance," originally published as a serial in Fantasy Book in December 1986 and March 1987.)

The novel concludes with Tarma and Kethry re-affirming their bond, and deciding to continue their outclan journeys.

Characters Edit

  • Rodi - Kethry's mule
  • Shelana - Shin'a'in warleader, Clan Liha'irden
  • Sir Skolte
  • Syrtin
  • Tarma shena Tale'sedrin - Shin'a'in swordsworn, partner to Kethry, kyree Warrl
  • Tedric - mercenary
  • Tenavril
  • Thalhkarsh - demon, near deity
  • Brother Thoser
  • Tildy
  • Warrl - a kyree who bonds with Tarma
  • Wethes Goldmarchant - banker, Mornedealth

See Also Edit


Japanese cover of Oathbound


French cover for The Oathbound