Dear Ms. Vaughan:
I have been axiously awaiting the second book of your trilogy and was less than pleased to see that bookstores were abiding by the laydown date and not releasing the book until Tuesday. I am not much for delayed gratification. (unlike Jay who likes to hoard the books that she thinks she’ll really like. We could write a whole blog entry on how wrong that is.)
There were parts of this book I liked more than Warprize and there were parts that I liked less. For example, your heroine, Lara, is selfish – willing to sacrifice herself and others who love and protect her for the self gratification of healing and helping. Perhaps Lara needs to read Anthony DeMello’s book Awareness to aid her in character growth and get over this irritating trait.
I really like Keir. A lot. More than I should like a fictional character. There is a sense of warrior around Keir that is not often found in all of the books featuring alpha males. Your first book was compared to Garwood novels. The good ones. Not the crappy ones she is now writing. A hallmark of a Garwood novel was the humanization of the warrior without the metrosexaulism that many of the Kenyon, Feehan heroes present. In one moment, Keir comforts Lara after she has been taught a hard lesson that death can arrive in an instant. In another moment, Keir himself backhands someone who even suggests striking her. Keir is both fierce and tender. A true leader. There is a great scene in the book where Keir tells Lara that a leader without opposition becomes weak.
“We of the Plains do not silence our opponents, for they kep us strong. It is the stone against the blade that hones the edge.”
This novel is more sensuous than the first. There are more love scenes and longer ones. The atmosphere is really well done. The tribe is campaigning and it is hot, dusty, uncomfortable. Lara is still unsure of her place within the Tribe. She doesn’t see much of Keir because he is riding amonst the Tribe, keeping up spirits and cementing loyalties. I love the details that make the Tribe so real: the tokens for truth telling, the chants for death, the privacy bells, etc. Real effort is taken to recreate a world and a people.
The one off note in the book is the crux of the story. If it disturbs a reader, she may not like this book. Because of Lara’s “need” to heal the sick, she risks the lives of the tribe. The illness spreads amongst Keir’s people and in the end, the price the Tribe pays is high. Was it worth the sacrifice? Was it worth putting Keir in jeapardy with the council?
Was the illness inevitable? Would the disease have infected the Tribe regardless of Lara going into the contaminated village? Would Keir’s enemies have been strong enough to have created conflict for him regardless? These are questions that the book generates and how a reader answers them will ultimately affect her reflection of the book.
This reader was engaged throughout the whole story. I grappled with the above questions and remain conflicted. But my reflection is this: Bring on Warlord. I can’t wait.