Fans of Tarma and Kethry shouldn’t hesitate to pick up Oathblood (1998), a short story collection featuring all of Mercedes Lackey’s tales about the female sword and sorcery duo. A couple of these stories appeared in The Oathbound and Oathbreakers, the other two books in Lackey’s VOWS AND HONORS series (part of the larger VALDEMAR saga), but most did not (though published elsewhere previously).
In these stories we witness the event that set Tarma on her quest for revenge (and, wouldn’t you know, it involves a gang rape, a common feature in Lackey’s stories) and, after that, her travels and training.
Next we see Tarma and Kethry’s first meeting, then follow them around as they solve mysteries, help women, dispense justice (I do not always approve of their methods), and occasionally get into and out of various tight spots. The later stories describe their life at the sword and sorcery school they finally set up (which has been their goal all along).
Tarma and Kethry are interesting heroes and anyone who’s read the previous VOWS AND HONORS books will want to read Oathblood to fill in some gaps and find out what happens to them in the end. But those who haven’t read those first two books will be fine starting here, too. These short stories can stand alone and will give you an idea about whether you want to read The Oathbound and Oathbreakers .
Oathblood also contains an introduction by Mercedes Lackey in which she discusses her relationship with editor Marion Zimmer Bradley, talks about trying to get into Bradley’s anthologies, and explains why some of these stories were written (e.g., one is in response to the saying that poison is a woman’s weapon). Fans will appreciate these insights. Another point of interest is that Oathblood also contains the first story Lackey ever published.
Christa Lewis gives a nice performance in Tantor Audio’s recently published edition of Oathblood.