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Elizabeth Vaughan

REVIEW: Warprize by Elizabeth Vaughan

REVIEW: Warprize by Elizabeth Vaughan

Dear Ms. Vaughan,

Jane brought it to my attention that “Warprize,” your first novel and the first book in this series, is being reissued this month just as a book which is (I think) loosely related to it is being published. She asked if I’d be willing to revisit “Warprize” and I agreed.

Warprize by Elizabeth VaughanPrincess Xylara (Lara) of the land of Xy is a healer despite her royal status. She and her half brother have never truly gotten along and her decision to pursue this has been a source of friction between them. But worse things are afoot as the country has been invaded by a fierce horseback warrior tribe who are called the People of the Plains. As Lara aids the wounded of her own country and the prisoners of war captured during the fighting, it becomes more obvious by the day that the older and weaker civilization of Xy can’t hope to hold out much longer.

When the inevitable occurs, Lara braces herself for the terms of their defeat but nothing could have prepared her for the news her half brother announces – namely that she will be given over to the leader of the People as a Warprize. Horrified, Lara imagines a future of degradation at worst and being a slave at best. But as the terms were presented to her, she has little choice if the people whom her royal family has governed for generations are to escape destruction.

Lara is handed over to Keir and his people and thus begins her new life. She starts to learn about the People and finds herself treated remarkably well for a prisoner but she can’t get a grasp on her status to them or to Keir. They seem friendly enough yet are still strange and strangers to her. What will her future hold with them and can she believe the desire in Keir’s eyes is honorable or not?

Since the book is now over five years old, I would imagine that many people have read it and know the Big Reveal which is saved for the last quarter of the story. I would hope those who haven’t read it or read much about it would refrain from peeking or reading too many discussions about it since the bomb you drop is a big one and knowing about it would, IMO, spoil the book.

Since it’s told in first person POV, the reader only knows what Lara knows and what she knows – or doesn’t know – is only slowly filled in along the way. And since I didn’t know what I didn’t know, it didn’t bother me. If that makes sense. And it’s not a question of either lead character not wanting to believe or being unwilling to believe the other, it’s just that each *thinks* the other understands certain situations. As one character says to Lara (paraphrased) , “you picked up our language so quickly that we assumed you knew.” Since the situation was presented this way, it didn’t annoy me as some Big Misunderstandings do.

But I didn’t mind being as ignorant as Lara for most of the book. While the worldbuilding is probably not top notch as compared to many fantasy novels, it works for me and I found myself fascinated by the People and their culture. They drew me in and kept me turning
pages. The people of Xy are less interesting and come across as general run of the mill fantasy medieval folk.

I do have a few problems with Lara but not with her selfless devotion as a healer. It is presented as a calling for her and one in which she was taught her duty to the wounded and sick. She’s also a royal princess and as such has also brought up with a sense of duty to her family and people. There is a scene during her preparation to be handed over as a warprize that made me sniffle a little and truly shows that she isn’t just some selfless martyr. What ticked me off a little is an end scene when she still won’t acknowledge the wickedness of the villain and keeps fighting to protect him. She’s had proof (lots of
it) and knows this person hates her but still she keeps urging others not to take revenge on him. In my opinion, he needed to be knocked around a little.

The People of the Plains (or Firelanders as Lara’s people call them) are seen totally through her eyes. And we only know what she knows or has been taught. That they are barbarian raiders who have come to pillage and destroy. But, it is apparent fairly early that Lara will be treated well so I was a little puzzled that she didn’t seek an earlier understanding of her future since the People were all more than willing to explain things to her when she did ask. Much to my relief, this is definitely not a “keep her chained at his feet” kind of captive/captor story.

Looking back at my notes from when I originally read “Warprize,” I notice that I finished the book still wanting to know more about the People of the Plains, of Lara’s future with them and of her future with Keir. Some of the questions were answered in the next two books which Jane and I have variously reviewed at Dear Author. Though I haven’t had time to reread “Warprize” in anticipation of “Warcry” I do have fond memories of it and am looking forward to reading more about the People in your new book. B+

~Jayne

 

ISBN 9780425240540

ISBN epub 9781101477748

REVIEW: Dagger Star by Elizabeth Vaughan

REVIEW: Dagger Star by Elizabeth Vaughan

Dear Ms. Vaughan,

Dagger StarJane and I have both heaped love on all three books of your “Warlord” series. To me they seemed fresh, new and filled with characters I loved. I dove into each one eagerly anticipating it. Okay, maybe the sweat stuff in book two dragged on too long but that series rocked for me.

When Jane told us she had our advanced copy of “Dagger Star,” I was psyched. A new book (a new series?) for me to enjoy. And it started off fine. A dark and stormy night, two exhausted warrior women, a devastated land, a mysterious man. You threw in some sexual tension, some humor, another mystery about the heroine and I settled into this world. Evil is afoot here, times are hard, lawlessness rules the land. Obviously there’s going to be a showdown. And that’s about when things started to slide into too much. Just too much.

We get warriors, a scarred man, magic goats, a High Priestess, portals, goats, an elf, a mysterious injured man, goats, magic (thank you for not using the spelling magick), more warriors, a Chosen, dead warriors, Barons -rogue, drunk and Elf, more Chosen, warrior training, Raiders and a spider statue, children, pigs, goats again, a High Mage, wild magic, goats, battles, Elves, redemption and, oh yes, goats. On and on and on.

Every chapter brought new elements to the story, new people to learn about, new points of view to read and try and remember and after a short while, I got so tired of being hit up with yet one more addition to all I was mentally keeping track of. The humor felt forced and unfunny and as for the romance, it seemed to get stuck in a rut that left me unsatisfied and bored. And to top it off, despite all the different things mentioned and added to the story, the middle dragged far too long and the ending was too rushed.

I would guess that there are more books planned for this story because I certainly ended it with a lot of unanswered questions. Why this and how that? What was the reason to include this element and why did I slog through this entire book to still not know the reason for the goats? It could have been good, it might even have been very good but in the end it was just a mish mash of too darn much. D

~Jayne

This book can be purchased in mass market at Amazon or Powells or ebook format.