I’ve been having one of those weeks where nothing seems to work out quite the way I want it to. Between getting sick (I’m finally better now!) and other general life stress, I needed something mindless and fun to read to relax. After browsing around for a bit on my Kindle, I found “Warprize,” by Elizabeth Vaughan. It is the first book in the Chronicles of the Warlands series.
Our heroine, Xylara, is both a princess and a healer. When her kingdom is defeated by the barbarian Firelanders, part of the terms of the surrender are that she be given to the Warlord as his Warprize. Resigning herself to slavery in order to save her people, Xylara begins to live with the Firelanders, only to discover that there is far more to their culture than meets the eye. Oh, and of course the Warlord is tall, dark, and handsome…
I liked the way that Vaughan was able to focus on the cultural differences between Xylara’s people and the Firelanders, who have both male and female warriors and drink a coffee-like beverage called “kavage.” A warrior society of caffeine addicts is pretty fun. I also thought it was interesting that the author chose to keep Xylara in a very traditional feminine role throughout the story–she doesn’t fight, isn’t scheming for power, etc., but at the same time is able to play a pivotal role in preserving peace and acting as a bridge between two very different societies.
Although the book is a romance, there are no annoying love triangles, and the sex scenes aren’t terribly awkward. In fact, I don’t think that there are more than one or two sex scenes in the book, which I wouldn’t have guessed from the book’s description. The story reminded me a bit of the Dany/Khal Drogo dynamic in Game of Thrones, except with less rape and eating-of-horse-hearts. It’s a very non-stressful story, and it’s about the closest thing to a real romance novel that I can handle. While the writing isn’t perfect, it’s tolerable.
This isn’t a high work of literature, nor is it meant to be. It’s a guilty-pleasure fantasy romance novel featuring a scantily clad heroine and ends with a happily-ever-after, which is exactly what I needed.