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REVIEW: The Warrior by Judith E French

Dear Mrs. French,

084395395001mzzzzzzz.jpgThis is a series I’ve always meant to read but just never quite got around to. When I saw book three, “The Warrior” in the store, I decided to jump in and start there. The first thing I noticed is that it’s got an older style. Romance isn’t the main focus of story and it’s more historical fiction with romantic elements. The second thing is that from what I can tell by a cursery cruise through the internet, you’ve made this story up wholesale.

In ancient Times, tales were told of fierce warriors and the brave women who risked everything to love them. Alexander was one such man, and well he knew it. The only son of Alexander the Great, he had a destiny to fulfill. He intended to marry a princess and carry on his noble lineage. But in the heat of the Egyptian desert, a beautiful slave girl named Kiara called to his deepest desires. Her emerald green eyes beckoned him to put down his sword and open up his heart. And for once, Alexander wanted nothing more than to defy expectation and follow this willful beauty around the world.

But deception surrounded the lovers on all sides. From the great pyramids of Egypt to the misty hills of Ireland, history awaited the one man brave enough to seize it. And the one woman bold enough to claim…THE WARRIOR!

The book is very strong in historical feel and detail but not strong in historical accuracy. From all the readily available sources, it would seem that Roxana and her son died a mere decade after Alexander’s death and that there was no second romance nor other children for her. So while I enjoyed the story, kept wondering why you didn’t just make it a complete work of fiction and avoid using and changing historic figures. A friend of mine suggested that maybe you thought the story needed the larger-than-life character of Alexander the Great to make it believable but I still always get antsy when historical fact gets twisted too much to tell a story.

There are lots of plots. Lots and lots of plots. While it keeps things moving and interesting, it also doesn’t allow for in depth exploration of all these plots. Many times I felt moved from point A to point C with no mention of point B at all or at most a fleeting glimpse of it. But I admit it does save the book from the dreaded soggy middle syndrome.

I did enjoy the fact that Alexander has his moments of weakness and less than heroic actions (leaving Kiera in Rhodes after his promise to take her back to Ireland). The other subplots take away from this love story and I felt the “I love you” statements made at the end were forced and not that believable.

Ava is initially almost totally unbelievable. A seven year old, bursting in on her much older brother while he’s with two of his “playthings,” trailed by her pet leopard? Come on! She’s just a little too much as the little bloodthirsty Amazonette. Then she got much better after falling into the hands of their enemies. I could see her courage and bloodlines coming to her aid. But after being saved in the end, she’s ready to dash right into danger again when the Greeks attack and has to be hauled back by her mother. Did she learn nothing? Okay, she’s still young but…

And the attacks in the end weren’t too clear. I felt lost in this section and since it appears you’ve made it all up, I can’t even go to the internet to read a concise report on it. Also, why have the mini-romance for Shahi? It’s barely there, not expounded upon, cut off at the knees and totally unnecessary. And isn’t it too sweet that Kiera, Alexander and her nine Irish warriors arrive just in time to make it through the defense Kayan devises for the mountain empire. This section felt too rushed.

While I enjoyed the almost non-stop action of the book, I think I would have liked a little less going on and more time spent explaining fewer plot points. This is a fascinating time in history and one which I think deserves more emphasis placed on historical accuracy. I do plan on searching for the two previous books in the series that I already own and hope that I like them as much as I did this one. B-

~Jayne

This book can be purchased in mass market. No ebook format I can find.

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.

4 Comments

  1. DS
    Dec 07, 2007 @ 09:17:06

    I nearly picked this book up but ended up putting it back because, as far as I am concerned, Alexander the Great fictionally belongs to Mary Renault. I even put down a historical mystery where Alexander was a character.

    And this doesn’t make a lot of sense because I enjoyed Renault’s books on Theseus, but I have no problem reading books by other authors where Theseus is a character.

  2. Jayne
    Dec 11, 2007 @ 09:01:41

    DS, I’ve read so many strong recommendations for Renault that she needs to go on my TBR list. Do you have any book suggestions for me?

  3. AnimeJune
    Dec 14, 2007 @ 12:14:26

    I noticed you wondered why the author chose to twist historical figures around rather than make up the story wholesale — well, it sounds like The Warrior is an example of the Alternate History genre – considered a subgenre of science fiction. I’ve found the best Alternate Histories keep as close to history as possible except to the places where the author is screwing around (“What if Ben Franklin was a woman?” etc.). I have noticed that some authors do go from historical novels to alternate history novels in the same series and that can be annoying as hell (take Judith Tarr’s Crusades series that began with a detailed account of Prince John’s campaign against Richard and ended with Richard and his happy-PC-Muslim friends conquering Jerusalem with peace for all).

  4. Jayne
    Dec 18, 2007 @ 08:50:18

    AnimeJune, that might be exactly what French is doing here though I didn’t remember seeing anything on the cover to indicate this. Do authors/publishers normally put something on the cover or in the blurb to let readers know the book is an alternate history? And switching in the same damn series would truly make me mad. Thanks for the insight.

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