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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

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

12 Comments

  1. Marumae
    May 02, 2011 @ 16:45:13

    I was pleasantly surprised at this book when I first read it a few years ago. I enjoyed all the characters and found myself actually like Lara, like you I grew a tiny bit frustrated with her, but not enough to not enjoy the book over all. I never got around to getting the second and third book in the series, perhaps I’ll reread this one too at the end of the semester and see if I feel the same way I did.

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  2. Carolyn
    May 02, 2011 @ 17:12:58

    I loved this book. I was fascinated by the People of the Plains.

    First person POV was the only way to go with this one, I think. We didn’t know anything more than Lara because we saw everything through her eyes, which gave the reveal at the end more of a punch. Just as you said. :-)

    She can be stubborn and opinionated, as demonstrated in the next book, but I never doubted her desire for peace, or her love for Keir.

    I wasn’t aware another book was coming out. Tomorrow! I’ve pre-ordered it and can’t wait to read. :-)

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  3. sula
    May 02, 2011 @ 17:24:34

    I loved this book when I first read it and I’ve reread it since (which is to me the true measure of how good a book it was). Keir was the perfect balance of strength and calm, not arrogant or swaggering. Just love him.

    Looking forward to another entry in the series.

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  4. Angela James
    May 02, 2011 @ 17:29:14

    I’ve reread this book three times (love it), but it was only this past month that I was able to get past book 2 to book 3. I just didn’t care for book 2. But I found I enjoyed book 3 and the newest book that’s coming, book 4, was a really nice setup of the world and plot for future books and I also enjoyed it. I think fans of book one will be happy with the upcoming release.

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  5. Jayne
    May 02, 2011 @ 18:24:49

    @Angela James: I so agree about book 2. Too much sweat! But I like what you have to say about “Warcry.”

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  6. Lindsey
    May 02, 2011 @ 21:17:43

    Oh, this book. I read a friend’s copy based on her recommendation around the time it came out, and immediately bought the book thereafter, so that I could read it again. I never got the same great feeling from books 2 and three that I got from Warprize, so I doubt I’ll be getting the newest book, but they weren’t terrible. Now I really want to dig out my copy, though, as it’s been so long since I read it.

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  7. Jaclyn
    May 03, 2011 @ 07:22:54

    Elizabeth Vaughn is one of those authors I found by browsing my library’s shelves, so I can thank my librarian for the fact that I’ve read this book.

    Though it’s been a few years, I’ve read books 1 and 2 and was fascinated by the People of the Plains and Lara and Keir. Reading about a (fictional) culture and mythology are one of the elements of fantasy novels that draw me. There are images that I still remember from the books–they were drawn so well that I have a clear picture in my head. I’m excited about returning to this intriguing world when I read “Warcry”.

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  8. Jennifer Estep
    May 03, 2011 @ 08:32:45

    I read this book a few years ago, but I really enjoyed it. It’s just a great fantasy romance.

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  9. Sherri
    May 04, 2011 @ 00:04:33

    I love this book and was disappointed when I reached the end of the third book and there weren’t any more to read.

    I’ve ordered WarCry but am a little worried that I won’t enjoy it as much as it focuses on Heath & Avira rather than Lara & Keir. Elizabeth Vaughan’s other series took place in another part of the same world, and the last book was set on the Plains with a couple mentions of characters from WarPrize but even with a familiar setting they failed to capture my heart like WarPrize.

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  10. Angela James
    May 04, 2011 @ 07:28:21

    @Sherri: I too was worried I wouldn’t enjoy Warcry for the same reasons, so I was pleasantly surprised that I did enjoy it. Though, ostensibly, the focus is on Heath & Avira, this is still Lara & Keir’s story, and I really felt like the book was focused still on the world and the overarching plot. Heath & Avira still felt secondary to me in the whole thing. I would encourage you not to be hesitant to read it.

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  11. Lynette
    May 05, 2011 @ 08:15:40

    I’ve read WarPrize and loved it, book 2 was a DNF for me. Since so many years have passed, I’m going to have to try and re-read the series.

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  12. DA Week in Review: May 1 through May 8
    May 09, 2011 @ 10:27:38

    [...] Me by Kelly Jamieson REVIEW: Sabine and the Beast by Moira Rogers Recommended Reads for May REVIEW: Warprize by Elizabeth Vaughan REVIEW: Mercy by Annabel Joseph REVIEW: Mitzi's Marine by Rogenna Brewer REVIEW: Ripe for [...]

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