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Outstanding Creator Awards Review 9.3+ out of 10 for Oathbreaker

On 26/03/2024, I was honored with Outstanding Creator Awards’s Review of “Oathbreaker”.

Here is the full text:

Review of “Oathbreaker” by Dimitar Gyopsaliev – Outstanding Creator Awards:

3/26/2024

Score: 93+/100 (9.3+ out of 10)

The Crusades were a dark and disturbing time in human history. The Crusaders are often painted as being monstrous barbarians led to do unspeakable acts against their real and perceived enemies. The Muslim Arabs aren’t viewed much more positively, often seen as villains—outsiders, others–in their own right. This is how most of the modern world views the Crusades and those involved.

Well, Oathbreaker by Dimitar Gyopsaliev doesn’t portray them that way. Instead, this impressively-researched series brings humanity, light, understanding, and rationality to what seems like a very inhumane, chaotic, dark, and irrational period in human history.

It’s so easy to look at historical figures and point out how foolish or terrible they seem in hindsight. However, how might we have acted if we lived there at that time? How would it have been like to be an orphan in a feudal medieval world? How would it be like to come face to face with your enemies—to hear their battle cries, to smell their breath, to have their blood splashed over your skin? How would you react? How would you feel? What would you do in the midst of battle—with your life and those of your comrades at stake?

Oathbreaker does a magnificent job at putting forward the idea that the people involved in the Crusades were human beings just like us. They loved. They dreamed. They breathed. They bled. Some were as cruel and brutal as the history books say. Others were honorable, noble, and doing the best they could under unspeakable circumstances. Some got annoyed when the local bard got on their nerves. They developed crushes on women and bonded with their comrades.

Oathbreaker reunites us with Peter Longsword and Owen, heroes from the previous book: an orphan-turned-soldier and a Welsh archer. Their regiment is suddenly attacked, leading Peter to act impulsively, leaving the safety of the shied wall to forward a counter-offensive. This results in the death of his friend and comrade, Adam, which haunts him throughout the duration of the novel. Adam’s killer, a mysterious masked assailant, menaces Peter, compelling him to hunt them down in retaliation.

Furthermore, all of the gold stores are ransacked by the enemy, leaving Peter, Owen, and company unable to purchase safe passage over the sea to return home. They are, in effect, stranded—surrounded by a mixture of friends, foes, and everything in between.

Along the way, Peter and Owen encounter Gabriel the blacksmith, pirates, Mamluks, Abal (Shajar al-Durr)—a candidate for “Hottest Character” and Sultan Baibars’s daughter; Ivar, Matthew, Matilda, Lady Helen, Captain Jaffar, a giant yet silent slave named Robert, and a colorful host of other characters!

This book does a very good job at displaying its epic scope. The author also does a good job at showing movement and motion as the characters travel from place to place, meeting new people along the way.

With that said, we were hoping that it would recapture the action-packed and violent nature of its opening again. What an opening! However, this book is more about adventuring than it is about action. Perhaps we’ll see more action in the sequel(s)?

The thing that we really appreciated about this book (similar to the prior one in the series) is how the book brings humanity back into what history views as a dark, immoral, violent, barbaric time in human history. On that note, we were pleasantly surprised that the Mamluks and other Arabs—despite being the sworn enemies of the Crusaders, especially in the previous book—are not portrayed as irredeemably evil or even villainous. In fact, you have a character like Captain Jaffar in this book, a Mamluk veteran who is arguably the most level-headed, fair, and unselfish character there is. There’s also Robert, a huge slave who doesn’t speak. Similar to someone like Michael Clarke Duncan in The Green Mile, you can’t help but fall in love with this friendly giant and hope for his freedom along with Peter.

Not all Arabs are bad and not all Christians are good, and vice-versa. In fact, just as there are good people on both sides, there are wicked, cruel, and morally gray people on both sides including Sir Guido, Lord Broca, Tarin, and Tarik.

What’s really incredible and somewhat annoying is that Peter Longsword—despite meeting and being surrounded by horrible, terrible, awful people—acts like he’s Batman—it seems like he just can’t let anyone die even if they deserve it. The best example of this is when he intervenes in Robert killing one of his slave masters who, quite frankly, deserved death more than anyone.

We’re also reminded that he saved Marco Polo, a Bedouin prince, and many other people.

And that brings us to one of the underlying themes of the series: Peter’s ability to unite and bring people together regardless of their differences.

As Owen points out, Peter is an adopted member of Lady Eleanor’s retinue and family (which is why Owen teases him as “your highness”). Owen points out that the silver scarf technically makes him part of their royal family. This makes him, technically, on the Crusaders side. However, after being involved in the saving of Sultan Baibars, he is also technically Sultan Baibar’s blood-brother.

So, wait a minute… does that technically make the two hottest female characters/love interests (Lady Eleanor and Abal) his… kinda-sorta-not-really-blood-oath/foster sisters? That might be overthinking things, but it’s disturbing and humorous to think.

Anyway, special among all Mamluks and Crusaders alike, he is venerated by both sides. This really helps to push forward the idea of an eventual peace. In fact, a cease-fire/truce exists throughou t most of the book. The problem is that Peter isn’t the only thing the unites the two sides. PIRATES play a huge role in becoming thorns in the sides of both the Crusaders and Arabs, particularly the group of pirates known as Seawolves. This gives truth to the phrase: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

There’s also a bit of mystery in this book, not just with the identity of the masked being who slayed Adam but with the discovery of a human skull early on, then the discovery of the wreckage of a ship. All of this seems to be tied to an underlying conflict involving Lord Broca, one of the biggest #$%holes of the series, and Lady Helen.

We’re given a scene which actually explains the cover art and the presence of the crow—a “rat of the sky”–who Peter is drawn to have a conversation with. Peter is a character who we alternated between loving and hating. There are times when he was frustrating like his careless act that resulted in Adam’s death or when he prevented the slaver’s death. He also seems prone to moping and throwing tantrums such as when he screams at the bard. He develops the self-defeating belief that everyone he becomes close to will die including Adam, John, and William Longsword. Others always have to tend to him and pick him up, especially Owen who is pretty much the Samwise Gamgee of the situation.

This book is also pretty well-written. The author expertly weaves sentences with a special fondness for semi-colons that gave us a kick.

One last thing we have to mention is that this book does eventually introduce he titular weapon, Oathbreaker, which may be a candidate for Best Weapon.

Follow the link to watch my book trailer.

In the link below you can find the review of my book Oathbreaker.

LINK OCA REVIEW

Don’t forget to get your copy of the book from the link below.

 

 

 

 

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