Oath of the Brotherhood is the story of Conor Mac Nir – son of a king but raised by an adoptive father. He is highly educated and gifted at music, but possess little skill when it comes to the sword. Sent as a political hostage to cement a treaty his life looks to be going nowhere, but when tragedy strikes his homeland, he is forced onto a new path that will take him into the trust of a mysterious brotherhood.
The world of this book seems to be based on Scotland. The names of people and places sound Scottish. The action all takes place on Isle of Seare, but the map in the front shows another island – hinting at a bigger world to be explored in the series. The island has four distinct nations, which brings plenty of tension. The brotherhood Fascinated me – such a capable group of people – yet they hold strictly to a non-interference policy – hearkening to the prime directive of Star Trek.
Conor didn’t feel like an average fantasy hero. He was a very capable and gifted person – yet in the culture he lived his skills were seen as worthless. His transformation while with the brotherhood was extreme – but didn’t seem unnatural. I was drawn to the character of Aine. She served as a love interest for Conor, but she was much more than that. She had her own story, which continued after she and Conor were separated. Their relationship – one of immediate connection, followed by the building of a solid friendship that naturally developed into more was satisfying and believable. In fact, it reminded me of my early relationship with my wife.
The spiritual framework of this world was a mirror of Christianity. God and Jesus were present but with different names. This is common in Christian fantasy, but I don’t think I’ve seen it done quite like this. At one point, we hear a character tell a parable of Balus – very similar to one of Jesus’ parables recorded in the Bible. I thought that was cool.
The magic system in this book was interesting, though perhaps a tad under-utilised, but I’m sure we’ll see more as the series goes on. Magical powers were attributed to the “Christian” characters – essentially like giftings of the Holy Spirit – but on overdrive. Magic is often attributed to anti-christian characters these days, and even portrayed as evil, so it was fascinating to see magic portrayed as a specifically Christian attribute. There was also a druid who possessed different kinds of powers though he was villain. The use of music in the magic system was especially interesting. Certainly in the real world music has a power over us, but in the world of this book, that is meant in a literal rather than a figurative sense. Music has great power in the book’s world – and I am looking forward to seeing how this concept is developed.
C.E. Laureano has created the beginnings of a fascinating Christian fantasy with this book. It stands tall on its own but invites us to continue the journey.