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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

'Warprize' by Elizabeth Vaughan


The kingdom is Xyron is under attack by the Firelander Warlord. Supplies are running out within Xyron’s borders, the Firelanders are pushing through their boundaries and everyday Xylara tends to the wounded. Xylara, ‘Lara’, is half-sister to the current Xyron king – and though a Daughter of the blood and Xyron princess, Lara considers herself a healer first and foremost. She does what she can for wounded Xyron and Firelander soldiers alike.

As the battle rages on, and it becomes increasingly obvious that Xyron will have to either fall or surrender to the Firelander Warlord, negotiations begin. As apart of the peace treaty the fearsome Warlord, Keir, demands Lara as his Warprize.
Lara, understanding that she can bring an end to her people’s suffering, agrees to be slave and whore to Warlod Keir.

‘Warprize’ is set in an ambiguous era. Vaughan never confirms whether the book is set in the past, future or in a fractured timeline/alternate universe. The setting has a ‘Holy Crusades’ feel to it, with Medieval atmosphere. The timeframe isn’t really that important – since war is timeless, but as a reader you may be slightly frustrated trying to figure out the stories point in time.

At first I was thrown by Keir and Lara’s romance. Because I hadn’t pegged Keir as the books male protagonist. He doesn’t appear until chapter 2 or 3; before which Lara has met and cared for another wounded Firelander soldier whom I thought was going to be her love interest. I was initially a little disappointed that this solider, Simus, wasn’t Lara’s fated warlord. I liked him, aesthetically, because he is a big black man and Lara interestingly enough has never seen a dark-skinned person before. Simus turns out to be one of the best secondary characters I’ve read in a long time, and despite the fact that I did come to like Keir, I was still a touch disappointed that Simus wasn’t the stories hero.

I was at once swept up in Keir and Lara’s romance, but also somewhat disappointed in it. On the one hand, their love is epic - their union brings peace to the Xyron lands and the romance takes place amidst heated battles. It has a ‘Troy’ feel to it (think Brad Pitt and Rose Byrne’s Achilles/Briseis). There is bound to be sparkage when a fearsome Warlord takes a virginal princess as his sex slave. But for all the potential eroticism such a storyline conjures, Vaughan falls surprisingly short in the sex scenes. I don’t mean to sound like a sex-crazed reader, but Vaughan really shied away from anything above a PG13 rating. I was doubly shocked and disappointed at Vaughan’s reluctance to write sex scenes because there was such build-up to Keir and Lara’s coupling. I thought for sure, with such a sweet build-up, combined with an inherently erotic plot, that Vaughan would really let loose with the sex scenes – not the case.

I was swept up and over his shoulder. The move made me squawk, but I doubted that the noise could be heard above the noise of the crowd. He started to move. Through the soft cloth, I could hear his men chanting his name. I squirmed, but the cloak had me pinned, unable to move my arms or see anything.
Then I squirmed for another reason. His hand was on my buttocks, its warmth burning through the cloak. There was a caress, and then a soft swat… a warning to keep still.
I stopped squirming.
The hand stayed where it was.

Despite the lack of gratuitous sex (damn!) I did feel satisfied with Keir and Lara’s romance. Because it is undoubtedly, romantic. Keir is that gruff and rough Alpha hero that I love to read about – but with Lara he reveals his soft side. There’s a big plot twist toward the book’s end that sheds a whole new light on the Warlord/Warprize relationship, and its reveal makes the entire plot all the more heart-stopping and romantic.

I was really happy to discover that the other two books in Vaughan’s ‘Chronicles of the Warlands’ also follow Keir and Lara’s journey. There are at least three other Alpha males in ‘Warprize’ who could have potentially carried their own narratives; but I am relieved to know that Keir and Lara’s epic love story continues in ‘Warsworn’ and ‘Warlord’. Because the ending to ‘Warprize’ definitely leaves their story open-ended – it’s not a cliffhanger exactly, just a promise that there are more adventures in store for these two.

I went into ‘Warprize’ thinking it would be a sexy, romantic read. Well, it was and it wasn’t. The sex is seriously lacking, despite a steamy plot Vaughan shies away from explicit sex scenes that would have been entirely befitting the story. But, there was plenty of romance. Keir and Lara have an epic story, and I am pleased to know that it continues through two more books. I will definitely be reading ‘Warsworn’ and ‘Warlord’ ASAP because (despite the lack of sex) this was a great story.

4/5


2 comments:

  1. I def need to move this one up the tbr pile, lack of gratuitous sex and all ;)

    ps - someone just told me to read the Vampire Queen's Servant...awaiting your thoughts..LOL.

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  2. hmmm - not sure if I would like this one or not. It does seem interesting but I get annoyed when I can't figure out if it's past/present/future.

    I see you're reading The Vampire Queen's Servant. I'm so frustrated I have book 2 and 3 but not book 1!!! (trying not to be jealous) Looking forward to your review.

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