Thursday, June 19, 2014

'Oath of the Brotherhood' by C.E. Laureano

Oath of the Brotherhood (Song of Seare, #1)
In a kingdom where the Old Ways hold fast and a man's worth lies entirely in his skill with the sword, Conor Mac Nir is a scholar, a musician, and a follower of the forbidden Balian faith: problematic for any man, but disastrous for the son of the king.When Conor is sent as a hostage to a neighboring kingdom, he never expects to fall in love with the rival king's sister, Aine. Nor does he suspect his gift with the harp (and Aine's ability to heal) touches on the realm of magic. Then his clan begins a campaign to eliminate all Balians from the isle of Seare, putting his newfound home in peril and entangling him in a plot for control of the island that has been unfolding since long before his birth.Only by committing himself to an ancient warrior brotherhood can Conor discover the part he's meant to play in Seare's future. But is he willing to sacrifice everything--even the woman he loves--to follow the path his God has laid before him?


Interestingly, I began this book shortly after reading a few articles by authors who claim to have observed a self-focused, entitled tendency among young people today. Conor, although brought up as Crown Prince, is the least entitled young man you could find. He knows very well that he must adapt to his circumstances rather than expecting them to cave in to him, and his circumstances get rough. Being raised in the school of hard knocks stands him in good stead for the Firein brotherhood, who certainly never mollycoddle anyone. He earns respect with his hardworking, diligent attitude, especially since, by nature, he'd prefer to be a scholar and musician.

Aine initially comes across as more sure of herself and confident than Conor; mature in her outlook for a teenager, but she has a lot of responsibility, being gifted as both a seer and a healer. She's celebrated as the Lady Healer of Lisdara. What I appreciated most about her story is her discovery of the balance she needs to find in her life, between exercising her special gifts and seeking the face and love of the Source of them. 'She needed to spend her time in prayer and study of Scripture, and quiet reflection, so that she could hear Comdiu's whispers among the cacophony of other demands.'

 This story is a good example of why fantasy can be the perfect vehicle to tell a Christian tale. The things that happen can paint a very vivid picture, such as the way in which Conor and Aine deal with the Sidhe (evil spirits) on different occasions. There are also several descriptive passages about how God (or Comdiu, as he is known), chooses to communicate with his followers. Lord Balus' words to Aine could be meant for us all. 'Have faith in me, seek my wisdom, accept my guidance, it is not for you to know what is to come.'

The huge cast of characters may be hard to keep track of, if you don't either keep referring to the glossary at the back of the book or write your own. New people are introduced thick and fast, sometimes every few pages, until well past the halfway mark. As many have similar, hard-to-pronounce names, you must keep a record somewhere. There are hundreds of members of the brotherhood alone, and sometimes I felt we were introduced to every single one of them. The same goes for the people back in the kingdoms.

There are lots of lyrical lines, such as Conor's reflection that calling both himself and Meallachan musicians was like classifying both a raindrop and an ocean as water. I like the respect paid to the arts, such as music and storytelling. "All good stories are true. Even if they were completely made up by the storyteller, there is something in them that resonates with us."

I received a copy from Net Galley and Tyndale House in return for an honest review

3.5 stars

Oath of the Brotherhood: A Novel (The Song of Seare) available from Amazon

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