Friday, July 1

Warprize (reissue) by Elizabeth Vaughan

Book 1 in the Chronicles of the Warlands Series

The blurb: Xylara is the Daughter of the Warrior King, Xyron. With her father dead and her incompetent half-brother on the throne, the kingdom is in danger of falling to the warring Firelanders.

Before she was old enough for a marriage-of-alliance, Xylara was trained as a healer. She can't usurp her brother or negotiate a peace—but she can heal the brave ones injured in battle.

But not only her countrymen are wounded, and Xylara's conscience won't let Firelander warriors die when she can do something to save them. She learns their language and their customs and tries to make them as comfortable as possible, despite their prisoner-of-war status.

She never expects that these deeds, done in good faith, would lead to the handsome and mysterious Firelander Warlord demanding her in exchange for a cease-fire. Xylara knows must trade the life she has always known for the well-being of her people, and so she becomes...

Stop reading this review. Seriously. Stop reading it, go and get this book. Wherever you can find it. Buy it, borrow it, steal it from an elderly woman if you have too (FTC - that was a joke. No stealing!). This is a book worthy of bloodshed! On a more serious note, this book really was fantastic. The writing, the characters, the plot, the total immersion in the world Vaughan builds… I was swept away. Absolutely swept off my feet. I started this book at 11:30 last night, hoping a little calm reading would help me fall asleep. Instead I stayed up until 3 AM feverishly reading. Each page held me in suspense. Literally. The last forty pages had me sweating I tried to read so fast. I was biting my nails to the Very. Last. Paragraph. It was epic. And not only was it a romance in which the protagonists fell in love, they journeyed together through uncertain times and danger. I fell in love with them - and with the world they lived in. It was all *sniff* so... good!

First, the characters are fantastic. The Firelanders are rough but fun. The people of Xi are serious and loving. Every single character was convincing and realistic. I loved our heroine, Warprize, a.k.a. Xylara. She was compassionate, strong, loving, responsible, gentle, determined, devoted to her beliefs and firm without being a paragon. I loved how she was always dirty, always looking forward her next healing task or the next brewing. I loved her ability to take things in stride, make good, thought-out decisions, and act in the best interest of others every time. To me, she was one of the strongest, least-selfish, most intelligent, and most understanding heroines I’ve ever had the pleasure to read about. For his part, the hero, our Warlord (Keir) was fierce, protective, sweet, tender, strong, and very, very Alpha. I loved the two of them together, and how they interacted. I loved her uncertainty – and his uncertainty – and their mutual tenderness and understanding.  He was good to her, she was good for him. The romance between them was beautiful, emotional and poignant – a mix of cultures, spirits, and bodies. It was almost hard to describe. They were just... right. Together.

The fantasy world created by Vaughan was impeccable. I think this may have been my favorite part about the book – the world and culture building. I loved reading about the culture of the Firelanders, the culture of the people of Xy and how they tried to mix them. It was a fascinating part of the story, filled with moments of horror and moments of great understanding. I loved how Vaughan took the ‘barbarian’s’ ways and made them seem civilized. I loved how she showed the (more conventional) Xy society, with a monarch and traditional marriages, as barbaric through the eyes of the Firelanders. It made me stop for a second and think about what 'civilization' meant. It was fantastically written, well-researched, and developed to the very last detail. For the culture and the world-weaving alone I would recommend this fabulous book. The kavage... I loved it. It took me a moment to realize it was coffee. And then I was like... how cool is this? COFFEE IN A FANTASY BOOK!

I loved this book. Period. The characters – primary and secondary – were believable and realistic. The conflicts that arose, romantic and otherwise, were suspenseful and well-done. I stayed up til 3 A.M. reading this book because it was so good I couldn’t put it down, not for a moment. The love was there, the world-building was there, the plot was there, the characters were there, everything was THERE (and by there I mean at the place of astoundingly goodness). This book… well, let’s just say I’m in a hurry to buy the sequel.

Favorite quotes:

“Eln, how long was I your apprentice?”
He stared pointedly at my bruised cheek. “Long enough to learn.” He regarded me with a solemn look.
“And I have been a master for how long?” I rinsed more of the instruments and set them on a cloth to dry.
He pursed his lips, and pretended to study one of the jars. “Long enough to learn to talk back.”

I risked a smile. “I think Marcus is calming down.”
“Really?” His [Keir’s] expression did not change, but there was a hint of laughter in his voice. “Marcus?” he called out. “The warprize did not eat at noon.”
The rattling of dishes stilled and I heard an enraged cry. I hunched down as Marcus stomped into the room. “What? You think you live on light and air?” He glared at me, with both hands on his hips. “City-dwellers.”

 “Sexy”ness rating: Sensual. Brief mention of foreplay and sex. Nothing too explicit.

Overall Rating: A+

Bottom Line: I loved this book, from start to finish. It held me enthralled from when I started it last night at 11:30 – to when I finished it this morning at 3:00. AM. It was that good. The hero is tender yet dark and dangerous, the heroine is smart, giving and compassionate. They make a wonderful pair in a really, really interesting story. BUY IT NOW!

Pages: 296
Published (the reissue): April 5, 2011
Published (the original): October 31, 2005
Genre: Fantasy

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