Cover Image: Oath Bound

Oath Bound

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Wow what an amazing, exciting and gripping story!  As a child Styrkar the Dane was taken from his home and made into a slave by the Norsemen who invaded his village.  Some years later,he ends up on the shores of Britain where he is saved from his Norse captors by the soon to be king Harold Godwinson.  Ever loyal to the man who freed him, Stykar ends up going into battle for his king more than once.  But soon the Duke of Normandy invades the country and after that battle King Harold is killed.  Enraged by the invading Franks and what they’ve done to his king, Styrkar sets off on a journey to enact revenge on all of the invaders.  But things get complicated, and while Styrkar is out for revenge for King Harold’s death, someone else is out to take their revenge on him.

I can’t believe how much I have enjoyed this story from the very first pages!  The book begins with a brief prologue on Senlac Hill (after the Battle of Hastings) in 1066 before going back in time to when Styrkar is just a boy.  I loved this introduction to Styrkar’s life, first as we find out his back story with his mother and where he comes from, and later his life as a slave to the Norsemen before being freed  in England to then serve King Harold.

As the story moves on Styrkar ends up close to Harold and his family.  He develops a bond with the man who freed him, so when King Harold dies though, Styrkar is so angry he sets out on a quest for vengence, vowing to kill every Frank who has invaded the country.  The book is split into four parts, and each part is filled with short chapters which are all so interesting and exciting to read.  The book pretty fast paced, with lots happening throughout.  Even when there are slower moments such as the time Styrkar spends with Harold’s wife and sons, the action never slows down, with so many things happening and this playing out quite like a movie in my mind.

Although following Styrkar’s story alone was interesting, I did find it even more interesting when we start to see things happening from the point of view of other characters too, especially Ronan.  The chapters often alternate between what is happening to Styrkar and Ronan, as well as some other characters.  I especially liked finding out more about Gisela whose story gets more interesting the further you read into her tale.

The story is so good throughout.  There are lots of tense moments, interesting characters met and lots of great battle scenes too.  There is a lot of action happening and I like Styrkar’s character as he grows through the story and realises the consequences of his actions and what really matters and is important to him.  The ending has a great build up to it, a brilliant battle and finishes in an interesting way.  I like what happens,with the last scene openning up the way forward for the second book in the series, Shield Breaker, which I really want to read now as I want to know what happens to Styrkar and that other character!

The book has the occasional use of the f and s swear words and there is a lot of violence, battles and fighting.  Some of it is a bit gory, some deaths, but to me this book isn’t as gory as some books I’ve read, which I like.  There is a list of place names at the front of the book, the old names used in the story and what some of these places are called today.  There is glossary at the end of the book too, which I wish I’d known about before reading this as it makes it easier to understand what a few key words are in the story without prior knowledge or having to look them up.

Overall this is such an amazing read and a book which I just couldn’t put down!  I enjoy a lot of historical fiction from the medieval period but this is definitely up there with some of my favourites!  I can’t wait to read the next book in the series Shield Breaker, and can’t recommend this enough if you like exciting medieval historical fiction with lots of battles and a brilliant and exciting story!
Was this review helpful?
Oath Bound is the fantastic first installment in a new series. The writing and pacing quickly pull you into the story, and keep you immersed throughout - although my one complaint for the entire book was that there were places where it felt as though the progression was a little too rushed, making some bits feel a little choppy. Not enough to pull me out of the flow of the story, but noticeable. However, the plot was well-written and gripping, and the characterization was spot on, especially with Styrkar - and even with the action and blood, time was taken to explore the character's doubts and struggles, and the development felt believable and natural in the situations. This care with the characters' internal conflicts, as well as the external conflict is evident throughout and from the main characters down to the minor ones, and made for incredibly compulsive reading. The ending struck a great note in terms of atmosphere and emotion, with enough to leave you wanting more and I will eagerly be awaiting the next book in this series.
Was this review helpful?
I would very much recommend this everyone who loves. Factual history. The author has done his research on the 1066 conquest and it’s aftermath..Every page is enthralling as you are in the thick of the action..I am eagerly looking forward to his second book SHIELD BREAKER due out 7th July 2022.
Was this review helpful?
‘𝙔𝙤𝙪 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙮𝙤𝙪𝙧 𝙗𝙧𝙚𝙩𝙝𝙧𝙚𝙣 𝙝𝙖𝙫𝙚 𝙗𝙧𝙤𝙪𝙜𝙝𝙩 𝙩𝙚𝙧𝙧𝙤𝙧 𝙩𝙤 𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙨𝙚 𝙡𝙖𝙣𝙙𝙨. 𝙏𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙩𝙞𝙢𝙚 𝙞𝙨 𝙤𝙫𝙚𝙧 𝙣𝙤𝙬. 𝙏𝙚𝙡𝙡 𝙮𝙤𝙪𝙧 𝙢𝙖𝙨𝙩𝙚𝙧 𝙩𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙍𝙚𝙙 𝙒𝙤𝙡𝙛 𝙞𝙨 𝙖𝙗𝙧𝙤𝙖𝙙, 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙝𝙚 𝙬𝙞𝙡𝙡 𝙨𝙝𝙤𝙬 𝙣𝙤 𝙢𝙚𝙧𝙘𝙮. 𝙏𝙚𝙡𝙡 𝙮𝙤𝙪𝙧 𝙢𝙖𝙨𝙩𝙚𝙧 𝙩𝙝𝙞𝙨 𝙩𝙞𝙢𝙚 𝙤𝙛 𝙥𝙞𝙡𝙡𝙖𝙜𝙚 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙙𝙚𝙖𝙩𝙝 𝙞𝙨 𝙛𝙞𝙣𝙞𝙨𝙝𝙚𝙙.’

⚔️Oath Bound - 1st in The Wolf of Kings series - set on the backdrop of the Norman Conquest of Britain, tells the revenge story of a Danish warrior who after the defeat of 1066 refused to bend his kneels before the invading king & became a fugitive outlaw, seeking vengeance for the death of his master.

England, 1066 AD. After the Battle of Hastings, Styrkar, a Danish warrior finds himself the last surviving warrior of King Harold Godwinson who had freed him from slavery, showed him compassion & admitted him into as his housecarl. But when he failed to protect him on the battlefield, Styrkar embarks on a bloody quest to avenge his death, becoming an outlaw in the wilds, murdering the invaders and the traitors alike, and earning a fearsome reputation of the Red Wolf. Meanwhile, Ronan, a Breton knight who had followed the Normandy invader in search of glory and power is tracking Styrkar, and he will go to any extent to make his own name in this new land by hunting him down. But the champion of the dead king has nothing left to lose, and nothing more to fear, he will not stop until there is a reckoning.

⚔️Richard Cullen is the pen name of R. S. Ford and this is his first historical fiction. Since I have not read his other works, I had initially kept my expectation level down, but as I read, I find myself immersed in the story. The plot is incredibly well-written and fast-paced; the Use of multiple POVs gives you the outlook of two sides of the conquest; action scenes are gruesome and so many things keep happening, that it was hard to put down.

⚔️All the characters are immaculately crafted, even the minor characters' inner conflicts are explored. Styrkar's character development from being a slave to a housecarl and finally an outlawed fugitive was fabulous; His inner struggle between vengeance and redemption reminds me of Beobarnd's character from The Bernicia Chronicles. His nemesis Ronan is the perfect villain whom you're bound to hate. His lover Gisela although introduced late in the book still makes a great impression. I would’ve liked to read more of her POVs.

⚔️Lastly the climax of the story, I feel was disquiet and harrowing, but it was also the most fitting ending. Without giving any spoiler I would only say that it's not the end but only the beginning of Styrkar's greater journey. If you read the book you'll understand what I'm talking about.

Overall, Oath Bound was a wonderful read and I'm looking forward to read the next book. Fans of Bernard Cornwall and Matthew Harffy would surely enjoy this book. I find the book underrated on Goodreads and Amazon, but trust me if you're into historical fiction, then do read it, you won't regret it.

𝙈𝙮 𝙍𝙖𝙩𝙞𝙣𝙜: ⭐⭐⭐⭐✨(𝟒.𝟓/𝟓)
Was this review helpful?
This is the first book in a new series following a Danish axe-wielding warrior Styrkar, by a new-to-me author; Richard Cullen. I will certainly be reading more from the author and from this series.  

The story follows Styrkar's life from slavery to being the warrior he becomes, it doesn't hold back any punches, he doesn't glorify the struggle which he has faced and the trials he is yet to face but tells his story with vivid and brutal honesty, the struggles and hardships are real which makes you become invested in the story and him as a character. 

The story draws you right into the action, it's bloody and brutal - but it is Viking era so what do you expect? It's immersive and compelling to read, I liked how the story flowed, even though the first half I had an issue with the pacing, I thought it was a little slow for my liking and parts dragged a little, but by the second half it picked up speed which I thought matched the high-energy plot perfectly. 

The characters are brilliantly written, each one bring something to the story, Styrkar is very likeable, and the villain of the tale is one who just want to hate as soon as setting eyes on them. 

Overall, a gritty and enthralling book which will keep you reading.
Was this review helpful?
The first book in a news series about the Norman Conquest of England. It is a brutal time and the story is told from the two side.

 The main character is Styrkar who fought for the English King and wants to avenge him. What I enjoyed most about Styrkar is that the reader see the different sides of him and his struggles and doubts about his journey and the choices he makes. 

The book takes place in a very interesting time in history and fans of Bernard Cornwell will enjoy this first book in a series.
Was this review helpful?
I went into this book with low expectations mostly because this topic and plot (from the summary) seemed to be much like several others of this specific time period and genre. 

That being said Cullen did a great job not following the same pattern of these and building his character through the story and setting the stage for the series to come. 

There were times that the story progression felt choppy skipping to and from points of view but besides that enjoyable read.
Was this review helpful?
Styrkar, a Danish boy snatched, enslaved and embittered. His salvation finally comes in the form of King Harold with whom he grows into a loyal and trusted friend and fearsome warrior - until Hastings 1066. Now with his king lost and the kings family now gone his lust for revenge is further fuelled and thus the man nicknamed Red Wolf is on a mission, looking to rid both his sense of loss and his adopted country by destroying the Frankish invader.  It’s quite a journey in which his total despair is never quite lifted, his “friends” never quite true and many a battle along the way culminating in an offer he can’t, daren’t refuse……….
Was this review helpful?
‘Carrion crows led a path to the dead.’

England, 1066

Styrkar the Dane has survived the Battle of Hastings. Enslaved, a victim of Norse raids, he had become a loyal follower of King Harold Godwinson (Harold II), and vows to avenge his death. Styrkar becomes an outlaw and earns a fearsome reputation, thus drawing the attention of a particular Breton knight who seeks to make his own name by hunting him down.

‘He was the Red Wolf – neither a man nor a beast.’

In this novel, the first of a series, Mr Cullen portrays the violence of the Norman Conquest of England, the alliances and allegiances that failed the English and enabled the Normans to flourish. The knight seeking to destroy Styrkar will stop at nothing to achieve his objectives: the lives of others are unimportant. And Strykar himself learns that there is more to life than revenge, but can he find peace?

I enjoyed this novel and am looking forward to the next in the series which I understand is due to be released in July. If you enjoy historical fiction set in the eleventh century, I can recommend this novel.

Note: My thanks to NetGalley and Head of Zeus for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes. 

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
Was this review helpful?
Styrkar the Dane stumbles wounded and delirious from the corpse-strewn battlefield of Senlac Hill. He has watched his king butchered at the hands of foreign knights, seen his countrymen defeated in battle, and he will not stop until there is a reckoning.

Styrkar embarks on a bloody quest to avenge his dead master, becoming an outlaw in the wilds and earning a fearsome reputation. When a Breton knight seeks to track down this fugitive and make his own name, he can little envisage the task he has set himself. For Styrkar, the Red Wolf, last surviving housecarl to King Harold Godwinson, will carve the story of his vengeance in Frankish flesh... or die in the attempt.
Was this review helpful?
To be honest, I have read worse and it is generally inoffensive. But I couldn't really engage with this novel. I am a stickler for accuracy and grammar, and I was pleasantly surprised that some of the standard errors grammar-wise were absent which was great, but I do wonder how much research the author did on the background to the Norman Conquest before he started to write about what he portrays as a backward, uneducated, unrefined population of England at the time. 

That is the most annoying aspect of this novel. Maybe he thinks that is the view of the 'Franks' - they're Norman, not Frankish and the true Franks understood the difference - but even they knew that England was not in any way backward and was, in fact, advanced in most ways. As Sir Frank Senton said all those years ago, England was an old and settled country with the most sophisticated form of government in Europe which is why, when William arrived, he had far less trouble taking over the entire country than the Romans, that vast, organised force that made the Normans look like a scouting party. And one look at the Sutton Hoo treasures shows the knowledge of culture and art that existed in England. And if England was so backward and vile (how is the weather so very different in England to the land mass 20 miles away?? Maybe Cullen did read about the Romans, but if he truly believes the weather in London is worse than Rouen, maybe he needs to go there and realise it isn't exactly Rome....) what was the attraction for William? He didn't want England because it was a vast field that he can start from scratch with, he wanted, as conquering entities always do, the resources it offered.

Anyway, enough of that. I think I've proved my point. 

Regarding the actual writing, the grammar is good, but I think it lacks description and depth. The passages are episodic in tone, they leap onwards before they're ready at the expense of depth. One feels one is waiting for the next bit for the story to really start, but we never get there. Maybe Cullen was pushed for word count, but it does spoil what could have been a better narrative.

I think the plot is great, the idea of a man with nothing to lose  setting himself against the interlopers, but it doesn't really come  to fruition as the actual story is rushed.
Was this review helpful?
Exciting medieval story set in time of Harold and William the Conqueror. A Danish slave is saved from his Viking masters and becomes a fearless fighter called The Red Wolf. From the victory at Stamford Bridge to defeat at Senlac Hill he is at Harolds side. Having escaped the tale follows his thirst for revenge in a series of graphic blood soaked episodes with a dastardly Frank knight as the main enemy. Never less than entertaining it ends with him being sent on a mission to save the woman he loves thus more to come from this super character!
Was this review helpful?
Oath Bound by Richard Cullen tells the story of a warrior called Styrkar - his life as a slave, how he became the most loyal follower of King Harold, the defeat of 1066 and his struggle for vengeance afterwards.

It didn't take long for me to become totally immersed in the plot. The story is incredibly well-written and fast-paced. I couldn't put it down as so many things keep happening, and I always wanted to know more. I especially loved Styrkar's character development, how his views and goals change with all the trials and ordeals he's got to survive. His nemesis is such a perfect villain who I came to hate pretty quickly.

It is the first book in a series, and I can't wait to read the rest of the series. I'd highly recommend it to everyone interested in this time period.

Many thanks to the publisher, Head of Zeus, and the author for this review copy!
Was this review helpful?
Young Styrkar, the victim of Norse raiders, finds himself a slave not once but twice over, his final master being Harold Godwinsson - or King Harold II, the last Anglo-Saxon King of England.   Following the defeat of Harold at Senlac, Styrkar vows to avenge the death of Harold on the Normans, becoming a figure of myth and terror - a boogeyman,preying on the unsuspecting and inspiring fear and dread in all. But there is one on his trail, one who seeks to capture, in the name of personal glory.

Styrkar's story is broken into four manageable parts: his life up to the sighting of the Normans; the invasion, battle and defeat of Harold; his vengeance against the Normans, and the cat and mouse battle with his nemesis.

We begin to get a feel for the character of Styrkar as the novel progresses, with the themes of loyalty and revenge ably explored. The author provides an atmospheric realism that will draw the reader into events that left their mark on the English landscape.

For those with an interest in the 11th century, this will make a nice detour and is only the beginning of a new series.  Fans of Harrfy, Cornwell, and Hosker.

Looking forward to seeing how the series progresses.
Was this review helpful?
A terrific story with amazing characters set in a fascinating time and context.  All adds up to a great read which will appeal to many.  I loved the relationships which are built throughout the book and found the author’s ability to create an atmosphere quite unique.
Was this review helpful?
Sincere thanks to Netgalley/Aries & Aries for letting me have an advance copy of this great book.

I've read the authors 'War of the Archons' trilogy, (as R.S. Ford), and was greatly looking forward to this new historical series.

The cover description starts with Styrkar (known as the Red Wolf), surviving the battle of Senlac hill, and the guilt he feels at being unable to protect his king (Harold Godwinson). However, his story begins way before then, when he's captured as a child by Norwegian raiders, and enslaved for most of his youth.

An encounter with Harold (before he becomes King), changes all that and he becomes one of Harold's most trusted warriors, and Styrkar comes to regard him as a father, his love and loyalty unquestionable.

We follow them through all the political machinations of the time, which are beatifully described, explained and discussed, without it becoming a history lesson.

The showdown in the North with Harold Hadrada is next, then the fateful battle of Hastings. I loved this section, as with no great battle description, we see the aftermath, Harold's body being secured in a sack, Edith crying over him, and a lowly knight is sent to burn his remains. This is our introduction to Ronan, our other main protagonist, and that Styrkar and Ronan are destined to meet,  seems inevitable.

This is where the story starts to excel, with Ronan seeing an opportunity to better himself by capturing the Red Wolf (Styrkar), and Styrkar being dragged back a life he thought he was starting to escape. 

As I mentioned, the historical setting is wonderfully brought to life, and the depiction of the conquest and William I and the political goings-on of the time, encouraged me to read about the factual history of this period, which is always good.

The battle scenes are great, the sounds, sights and smells of the period are vividly depicted, and the whole book has a great adventure-feel to it. I had Robin of Sherwood in my head when 'seeing' the world of the book. 

The characters are well sketched out, each an individual person, with real motivations for what they do and how they react in different situations. The star of course is Styrkar himself, the 'Red Wolf', slayer of Franks. A formidable warrior, a loyal friend, and one whose further adventures I can't wait to read. (Seriously, when's the next one out?)

A fabulous five-star read for me.
Was this review helpful?