REVIEW: Warlord by Elizabeth Vaughan
Dear Ms. Vaughan
And so it ends. Warlord brings to a close the stories of Lara and Keir which began two years ago in the surprising debut of Warprize and continued in last year’s Warsworn. In a genre full of vampires, werewolves, dukes and carriages, this series brings the reader back to a simpler time when all people had was the earth and each other to rely on.
Warsworn brought us from the city dwellers and onto the journey of Lara and Keir to the Plains where Keir would present his Warprize to the Council, be affirmed, and begin to effectuate change that would benefit his people. The people of the plains were dying at a greater rate that the society was being repopulated. Some of it was because of internal violence. Some of it was because of disease. Keir the Cat saw an opportunity to tie himself with a city and avail his tribe of the richness and knowledge that the city had with the traditions, customs and knowledge of the Plains people.
During Warsworn, however, many of Keir’s people died of a plague that was brought upon them by Lara’s insistence on treating a village who were plague striken. It is honorable to die in combat but not because of sickness. Keir, as Warlord, is responsible for his people and the Council will judge accordingly.
The strength of these stories is the unique world that you have created. There are specific customs that must be followed as Lara becomes affirmed as a Warprize. It is an honor and Lara has the opportunity to return to the land of Xy and the comforts and familiarity of home or even choose a different Warlord. During much of the book, Lara is separated from Keir due to customs of the Firelanders as Keir answers for the loss of his warriors and Lara’s status as Warprize is debated. Lara’s life is at risk, as well, as many within the Firelanders fear change a city dweller like her shall bring.
I loved the imagery of the people, their way of life, and the beauty of the plains. This is no wall paper fantasy story and much of the magic lies within the detailed recreation of celebration of elements (earth, wind, fire, air) and the rules and customs by which the Firelanders lived. Less loved by me where the constant heroics of Lara in the field of medicine and the lengthy separation, not to mention everyone’s seeming captivation with chess, a game that Lara has introduced.
At the close of the book, however, I couldn’t help but want more. Surely there is more story to tell as Keir the Cat and Lara of Xy attempt to merge together a better future for their people. B.
Dear Ms Vaughan,
Let me first say it’s been a real pleasure to read the three books in this trilogy. I may be tired of paranormals but I’m still up for new fantasy worlds. And you’ve created such a vivid one that it’s easy to get lost in the complexity of it. Silly me got our review dates screwed up and thought I had a while before I’d have to have this review done. Then Tuesday, late afternoon Tuesday, Jane casually emails me that we’d put our dual reviews up on Thursday. “Thursday?” I gulped. “This Thursday!?!” “*&^%$#@!,” I mentally bitched at myself. Time to get my reading butt in gear. With a looming deadline I settled down and hoped I’d be able to finish in time. Well, once I started, I couldn’t stop. Before the night was over, I was over 2/3 of the way through and the next morning I flew through the rest.
I think in this book, you got back to what captivated me in “Warprize.” We again see the differences between the Xyian and Firelander peoples and how much of an effort it is to combine the two. We also get to see exactly what Keir hopes to accomplish by bringing Lara and her ways back to his people, showing that Keir is not only a strong warleader but someone with vision for the future. We, and Lara, also finally see many things about Fireland culture and everyday life which we’d only heard about before. As I said in my letter about “Warsworn,” that was what I missed in that book. Yeah, Lara fighting the Sweat Plague showed us how much she cares as a healer but that part got pretty damn long and, frankly, boring. This book moved much more quickly and was far more interesting to me.
I appreciate that you wrote the story to show that not all the Firelanders were happy about the potential changes headed their way. Change is never easy (something the wiser Firelanders realized), it might hurt at times but the end result can be worth it. I also laughed at the politics of the Council Meetings and some of the elders’ grumbling about sitting on their asses for days on end debating things. I like that you’ve left this world still in flux and I have a feeling I’ll be thinking about it and the people in this series for a long time. They’ve become that real to me.
I can’t leave out the few niggles that I have though. Keir and Lara’s PDAs were still slightly cloying, especially in the beginning of the book. Lara still tends to be a little clingy when she’s with Keir though when she’s on her own, she bucks up nicely. I goggled that Keir didn’t at least mention what was involved in having the Council name Lara a Warprize. Sure, you could have kept it from us, the readers, but my God man, give the girl a clue. Nothing like going into a life changing situation almost totally blind about it. And I doubt there’s a reader out there who won’t see what’s coming in the last chapter, either.
But so much in the story moved me: the bonded pairs, the pattern dancing, the dead riding with Lara then visiting for a final farewell. I had tears in my eyes at the song Essa sang for Lara. I didn’t want this series to end and I join with Jane in hoping that at some future date, we might see more of the Firelanders and the people of Xy. Or maybe there are new adventures for Lara, Keir, the other Warriors of the Plains and their children. I certainly hope so. B