From the BLURB:
Lara of Xy and her Warlord, Keir of the Cat, have been through much together. Lara abandoned her lands and people for love of him. She adopted his ways and learned of his tribe. Together they have faced plague and insurgency -- and despite these struggles, they have known happiness and joy.
Now they face their most arduous task: Keir must take Lara into the Heart of the Plains, and introduce her as the Warprize to the warrior-priests. She must be tested--questioned, examined, watched--and must find favor with the warrior-priests and the tribe's elders before they will confirm her as a true Warprize.
But in Lara's heart there are doubts--for what if she is found wanting? Will Keir give up everything he knows to be with his Warprize?
The final book in Vaughan’s trilogy.
‘The Chronicles of the Warlands’ reminded me a little bit of Diana Gabaldon’s ‘Outlander’ series. There’s no time travel, and Vaughan’s series is nowhere near as epic as Outlander – but on a smaller scale the two series have a few things in common. An outsider follows her warrior lover to his homeland. And both female protagonists are ‘healers’ – persecuted for their peculiar ways by their new adoptive people.
In this final book Lara finally sets foot on Keir’s firelander homeland. It’s a very different community than the bricks and mortar Lara is used to – Keir’s people live in tents, and as if their living establishments aren’t strange enough – their customs are utterly bewildering to Lara. Keir’s people are open with their sexuality (and homosexuality, a bizarre concept to Lara) they walk around naked if the mood suits them and take multiple lovers unless bonded. Keir’s people also have very different ideas of family – firelander women are expected to birth no less than five babes before being allowed to join the army. They do not raise their children, but leave child rearing to the designated ‘theas’ (nurse maids) of the village.
Vaughan has created a fascinating world, and it is interesting to read all of the minute details of these foreign people. It’s still a bit frustrating that Vaughan doesn’t give anything away as to whether or not the trilogy is set in ‘real time’ or alternate universe, but that can be forgiven because the world she’s created is so vivid and compelling. I’m a bit concerned about the cover of ‘Warlord’ however, proclaiming it to be ‘Paranormal Romance’. I really didn’t read anything paranormal – except perhaps for the Warrior-Priests of Keir’s village who supposedly use magic to heal (in actuality they pass out magic mushrooms to make their patients hallucinate). The only other way this could be even remotely paranormal is if Vaughan did mean for her trilogy to be set in an alternate universe – but since that is never explicitly stated, I really think the ‘paranormal romance’ tag is misleading.
The good news about ‘Warlord’ is that Vaughan gets a little bit more confident in her sex scenes. She actually uses the words ‘nipple’ and ‘impale’ a few times. Hallelujah! It took her 3 books to get there, but Vaughan did eventually write details of Lara & Keir’s sexual encounters.
‘The Chronicles of the Warlands’ is only a trilogy, which I am a bit disappointed at; especially because Vaughan doesn’t tidily wrap up the series. There’s no ‘cliffhanger’ per say, just lots of loose ends and questions unanswered. For one thing, in ‘Warlord’ two secondary characters are given romances – but as Vaughan draws the book to a close there is no follow-up to those relationships, which is beyond frustrating!
One of the most fascinating things about ‘Warlord’ was the revelation about the firelanders attitude toward family and child rearing. Lara is adamant that she will break with fireland tradition and raise her own children. There is also the fact that firelanders have to have five children before being allowed to join the army – men have to impregnate at least five times, and women birth five times. However, Lara never asks Keir about his five children, which seems to be a HUGE couples conversation they just skipped over.
And it would have been nice to have details about how Lara intended to overcome fireland tradition and raise her own children – it seems like that would have been a compelling fourth book?
Despite my grievances about the ending, I did really enjoy this final book and would highly recommend it.