Posts Tagged With: elizabeth vaughan

“Warlord” by Elizabeth Vaughan

A few days ago, I was pretty stressed out and got myself hooked on an escapist fantasy romance trilogy called The Chronicles of the Warlands by Elizabeth Vaughan.  The first book, Warprize, told the story of a princess named Xylara who became the Warprize of a barbarian warlord named Keir.  In the second book, Warsworn, Xylara and Keir embark on a journey to the heart of the Firelands to confirm Xylara’s status, only to be confronted with Plague.

In this installment, the two lovebirds continue their journey to the Heart of the Plains, but the outbreak of Plague has caused Keir’s tribe to become suspicious of Xylara and of city life.  They begin to feel that the alliance of two very different cultures might destroy their very civilization, and will stop at nothing to stop what they believe to be the spread of a great evil.  Xylara and Keir must fight for their relationship to be taken seriously and to demonstrate that learning about other ways of life can be a strength to both Xylara’s people and his own.

I think that this book is far better than the last, which suffered a bit from middle book syndrome.  Xylara and Keir’s travels into the Firelands meant that this book had far more action than the first two of the series, which was definitely a good thing.  There were many times that I forgot that this book was supposed to be “romance,” but instead was caught up in it the same way that I would be in any fantasy novel.

The way that Vaughan focused on the idea of uniting two different cultures and used it as one of the central themes of the novel allowed it to be escapist while not entirely mindless.  I was also pleased to see that Fireland society was GLBT-friendly, as that’s not particularly common in fantasy novels (…not to rant about A Song of Ice and Fire, but it’s a bit unfair that Dany can have dragons but poor Renly can’t come out of the closet).

There’s one more book in this series, although I don’t feel the need to read it immediately, as it focuses on a different set of characters.

As a whole, I would recommend The Chronicles of the Warlands for light or escapist reading.  The series has a strong romance element, but the romance is set against the backdrop of a larger fantasy/medieval world and the convergence of two distinct lifestyles.  This isn’t the type of book that I normally read, but I had been having a very stressful week and found the books to be highly enjoyable and a good way to relax.

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Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Romance | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

“Warsworn” by Elizabeth Vaughan

This week I’ve been in the mood to read something mindlessly entertaining.  After finishing “Warprize” by Elizabeth Vaughan, I decided to pick up the sequel.

The story begins as our scantily clad heroine, Xylara, feels a bit homesick, despite being hopelessly head-over-heels in love with her Warlord.  In order to be officially confirmed as his Warprize, the two must travel to the Heart of the Plains.  However, Xylara’s penchant for providing medical care to everyone in need overshadows her usual common sense, and so the Firelanders must face an unknown enemy–the Plague.  Meanwhile, tensions within the camp and a fear of the unknown threaten to upset the Warlord’s power.

This book isn’t quite as lighthearted as the last one, and some characters do die, but as a whole it still does convey a feel-good message of hope.  I definitely think that of the two books, “Warprize” was better, but I was still caught up in the story, and I like the way that Xylara and her Warlord become closer as a couple throughout the book despite realizing each other’s weaknesses.  It’s nice to take a story beyond the initial happily-ever-after and see how the couple progresses to face new challenges.  I was also glad to be able to see more of the Fireland culture, especially their celebratory traditions.  One of my favorite little details in the story was the way that Xylara taught the Firelanders to play chess, and the way that they changed the rules and adapted it to make it more suitable to their warrior culture.

If this were just a romance novel, I don’t think that I’d find this series as addicting as I have, but I’m a fan of the medieval setting and I love the way that Vaughan is able to build another culture that isn’t just a copy/paste version of an existing one.  There’s enough action and conflict to keep the story interesting, and Xylara and her Warlord make a cute couple.

While the book is far from perfect, the story is entertaining and fun.  I tend to have difficulty finding good escapist novels, but so far this series is working out well for me.  I’ll be back to my usual types of reviews in a few days, but for now light reading is a nice break from the routine.

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“Warprize” by Elizabeth Vaughan

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.

Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Romance | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

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