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REVIEW: Warlord by Elizabeth Vaughan

Dear Ms. Vaughan

11835328.gifAnd 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.

Best regards,

Jane


Dear Ms Vaughan,

11835328.gifLet 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

Jayne

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

15 Comments

  1. Angelle
    Mar 08, 2007 @ 06:15:18

    I, too, finished this book, and felt very sad that it was over so soon. I really liked this trilogy and was glad that it ended so strongly.

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  2. Phyl
    Mar 08, 2007 @ 07:56:03

    I bought this last night and can’t wait to start it, hopefully after work this afternoon. I think this series has been one of the more interesting created worlds I’ve seen in a long time. Even though I haven’t started this one yet, I join you in hoping Ms. Vaughan will choose to re-visit these characters at some future date.

    BTW, when I picked up my copy last night, I noticed that the publisher labeled it “paranormal romance.” I’ve never been sure how to characterize these books, but I wouldn’t have called them paranormal. Fantasy or alternate reality seem closer. There are recognizable aspects of earth cultures (chess, kavage=coffee, etc.), but no vamps or ghosts. It bothered me to see people over at AAR call it medieval.

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  3. Angelle
    Mar 08, 2007 @ 09:34:09

    It wasn’t medieval. I think of it as historical fantasy or something like that. Although I consider War-trilogy as romance I agree that it’s not your standard paranormal stuff.

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  4. Bonnie
    Mar 08, 2007 @ 11:53:26

    Over on AAR, one of the readers posted that she was upset about how much homoeroticism there was in this book. Nobody else has really addressed this aspect so I wonder if it was just that person’s interpretations of what was happening in the story. What do you think?

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  5. Jane
    Mar 08, 2007 @ 12:08:20

    Wow. I would say that the homosexual elements were nothing. I mean, there weren’t even any homo-erotic scenes other than one of the Warlords was a woman. The other Warlords have the opportunity to “court” Lara, the WarPrize. The female Warlord suggested that Lara kiss her as she had never been with a woman. This was rebuffed. I never saw anything that was erotic in that scene.

    There is one other character that is homosexual but there are no sex scenes or even allusions of sex scenes. I am befuddled. There are way more homoerotic scenes in JR Ward’s books.

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  6. Bonnie
    Mar 08, 2007 @ 12:15:14

    I just re-read the comments on the message board and the person (who didn’t identify themselves) said that he/she felt that the reader was “clubbed over the head” with the number of refrences to gay relationships and felt it was “too much and too unrealistic” for the story arc. So he/she didn’t say anything about homoeroticism, I misinterpreted that, sorry.

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  7. Tara Marie
    Mar 08, 2007 @ 12:15:36

    Warsworn is on my TBR pile and Warlord is on order. I’m looking forward to finishing this series. Warprize was a pleasant change from the norm.

    It wasn’t medieval.

    I wonder why so many people don’t get this?

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  8. Jane
    Mar 08, 2007 @ 12:17:41

    Maybe I missed it, but there is only one “homosexual” relationship other than the female Warlord who prefers women. But the homosexual relationship is more of a tragic, separated relationship. I’m trying hard not to spoil the story, but I think the references to the homosexual relationship take up all of 5 pages.

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  9. Jayne
    Mar 08, 2007 @ 18:28:16

    I totally agree with Jane on the number of references to homosexual relationships. There is the one female Warlord and then the one tragic relationship. There are no homosexual sex scenes at all and considering the length of the book, I honestly don’t see how anyone could call it being “clubbed over the head” with them.

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  10. Angelle
    Mar 08, 2007 @ 22:55:28

    I don’t see why homosexuality is even an issue. It was barely mentioned and not the main focus of the book. I would say that this book is very tame compared to J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood, which I found fairly homoerotic compared to most romance novels.

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  11. Bonnie
    Mar 08, 2007 @ 22:59:02

    I thought that this was the case and that that reader was reading something more into the book than was really there. I wondered why a good writer (as Ms. Vaughn has been for the first two books) would focus on such a new plot line in the midst of finishing up her trilogy. I’m glad to hear that she didn’t explore such new tangents at the end of her story arc.

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  12. Angelle
    Mar 09, 2007 @ 08:23:03

    Bonnie,

    I think that there were hints about one of the key minor character’s sexuality in books 1 & 2, but I never felt that she introduces something totally weird or out of place. I found Lara’s beliefs and perceptions re: sexuality and marriage, etc. to be fairly close to Christianity, while Keir’s people seemed to be more open-minded about it if you will. (walking around naked, etc.)

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  13. Dear Author.Com | Interview with an Editor: Heather Osborn, Tor
    May 14, 2007 @ 04:23:31

    [...] Warlord by Jane & Jayne [...]

  14. iCe
    Jan 05, 2008 @ 05:50:01

    I loved this book. And I appreciate that the author stopped at three books.

    One of the better Fantasy Romances out there. Even if Keir seems a bit on the waay to perfect side. The first book had me crying over the Princess of Xy’s sacrifice and misunderstanding and the last book settled me with… content. :)

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  15. Nicola
    Jun 19, 2008 @ 01:01:53

    I loved this series and disagree about the plague aspect as the reviewer has commented. I found the second book very moving and poignant and it is in fact my favourite of the 3.

    This is just a lovely, lovely love story in a vivid, compelling setting and I would like to see it go on and on – I really hope there will be at least one more book and feel that as it was ended, the author left room for further development.

    I read about 4 books a week, nearly all urban fantasy, fantasy or romance and these are some of the best books I have read this year. A place on my keeper shelf goes to very few but I’ll definitely make some room for this series. Cant wait to read it again!

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