Monday, April 23, 2007

Review: The Chronicles of Warldands trilogy by Elizabeth Vaughan

First, I have to thank Kris for making me read this series. I have seen Warsworn so many time at the bookstore, but I knew it was a series and I knew this time, I needed to read the first book, Warprize, first if I wanted to make sense of anything... However, I couldn't find Warprize in any bookstore in my region... so I put it off. It is only after reading Kris' reviews that I decided to order the book online :D and I'm really glad I did! So thanks Kris ;D

The Chronicles of Warlands by Elizabeth Vaughan

Warprize - Book 1 : 4.25/5
published by Tor Books in 2005
As a Warlord, Keir the Cat led his men to war against the city-dwellers of Water Fall's and defeat their king, Xymund. His goal was to blend both cultures together and change the ways of the Firelands. Never did he dream he would come across a Warprize.

Xylara is the half-sister of the current king, Xymund, and is a healer. Young, she defied most traditions in order to apprentice under Eln. When she became a master healer, she took an oath to treat everyone in need and that included the ennemies.

When the time of peace comes and the treaty is discussed, Keir demands fealty, taxes, surrender, and also Xylara whom he claims as Warprize. To maintain peace and protect her people, Xylara accepts... however, many would have preferred her to refuse...
Thoughts: I really enjoyed the book... Even before I started to read it, I glimpsed at the end and knew I would like it, so I rushed to the closest bookstore and bought book 2 and 3, so I wouldn't have to wait :P If I had to choose, I'd say this book was my favorite.

Warsworn - Book 2: 4.0/5
published by Tor Books in April 2006
Xylara has been claimed as Warprize by Keir of the Cat; however, her status needs to be confirmed by the council of elders. Xylara thus embarks on a journey, leaving her country and people for unfamiliar and faraway lands. On the way, they come across a town that has been wiped out by the plague, the "Sweat." As a healer, it is Xylara's duty to offer help... but at what risk?
Thoughts: I enjoy this book, because of the deepening of Xylara and Keir's relationship as well as the characterization of all characters. In addition, you learn more about both cultures and Keir's goals and motives... Some of the events are quite sad and so that's why I didn't enjoy it as much as Warprize; however, it makes the book very realistic.

Warlord - Book 3: 4.0/5
published by Tor Books in March 2007
Keir of the Cat and his army have been delayed by the plague to bring the Warprize back to Firelands to present her to the council. Angered and curious, the council sends an elder and some warrior-priests to fetch the Warprize. Because of the plague, many wonders if the changes that Xylara will bring to their lives will be good or bad; many questions Keir's goals and ways. Rebellion flares and the Firelanders are divided. At the most critical time, Xylara and Keir are separated... will Xylara be confirmed as Warprize? And who will she chose as her Warlord?
Thoughts: Again, another good book to the series. I enjoyed the book, but the fact that Keir and Xylara were separated did lessen my excitment a bit. Also, although a very good final book, it seems to me the ending is a bit unsatisfactory as many questions are left open and you don't know what's going to happen in the future. It seems to me, the Chronicals are not totally finished and perhaps, I hope, there will be another book.

Genre: fantasy, romance

Review: So, as you can see from the grades the books got, I did enjoy these trilogy a lot. I'm also very glad that I waited till the three books were all published to read it. I do hope Ms Vaughan will write more books, either to complete the Chronicles of Warlands or just other books.

The Characters - Obviously, the main characters are Xylara and Keir. Xylara is the princess of the country; however, she's very humble and earthy. I mean, she is a healer after all, so forget the whole spoiling thing... She's also not innocent - still a virgin, but not naive... She's quite strong and stubborn, in no-way a TSTL heroine. All in all, I like her and enjoyed discovering the new world through her eyes. As for her lover, Keir, what can I say? Yummy. I guess he's an alpha, very strong, very smart and very protective. His ideas and goals are all very realistic and feasable, but perhaps Keir is a bit too ruthless to carry them out smoothy. Keir is also very ambitious, as he aspires to become Warking, which is not impossible... All in all, a very sexy, yummy hero that I'd like to have as mine :P

There were also plenty other of characters as you can imagine. However, most of them weren't really fully developed. The focus of the books was really Xylara and Keir and their love. I'm not complaining though, cos you knew enough of the secondary characters to like them :) First, Marcus, the Token-bearer. He's like Keir's valet, but the grumpy kind that everyone is afraid to offend or else you'll be eating bad food for the rest of the month :P Marcus was serioulsy injured in a battle and lost one of his eye along the side of his face (burnt)... He's considered as a cripple, someone unworthy to live... and he's partly the reason why Keir wants to change the ways of the Firelanders. Simus is Keir's second-in-command, a very funny man ;) It's a pity you don't see much of him though, it would probably have been hilarious. Nevertheless, he's a very important character, and a bit the reason how Keir discovered and fell in love with Xylara. Joden is another important character, since he's the Singer. Basically, the Singer's role is to tell the past stories and history through his songs. As a result, he has a lot of influence. I liked the character, very honest and straightforward... I didn't like what he did in the books, but understood that it was his role. During the whole trilogy, Xylara had guards to protect her: Rafe, Prest, Epor, Isdra, Anders and Yveni. All contribute to the story, either through their funny side or more serious storylines. Quite interesting, really. Finally, you have Iften, Keir's third-in-command, who is against the changes, is wary of the city-dwellers and would like to see Xylara dead.

The Story & Writing - I hesitated a lot at first; where should I post this review - here or at Twisted Kingdom? And finally decided to post them here, because the romance outweighted the "fantasy" element of the story. Basically, if I had to describe the world in the Chronicles of Warlands, it would be Europe aristocracy meeting a nomadic, African tribes. There are a lot of difference in cultures between the two groups and Ms Vaughan did very well describing it, building it. To us, readers, we do recognize certain things... like kavage is probably coffee, and we already knows a lot of cultural aspects of both groups. However, it was very fun and enjoyable to discover the difference through the eyes of Xylara and other characters. MsVaughan certainly pulled that part off easily... Also, some things were also quite creative and I did laugh out loud a couple of times :)

I also really enjoyed the story and how it was cut into three books. It made a lot of sense and balance the story out very well. I have to admit that I liked the first book, Warprize, the most, because of the novelty I guess... also, it's in that book that Keir and Xylara get to know each other :)

The Covers - I'm not totally in love with them, but I like how you don't see naked torso or anything :P I also like the design, i.e. the silhouette of Xylara for the first book, of Keir for the second book and together for the third book. My only complain I would say is that book 1 and book 3's covers are very similar and it's easy to mistake them for each other.

Am I keeping them? Absolutely :) It's really worth it :)

Anything else? I have to admit that this series, especially the writing style, remind me a bit of the Study trilogy by Maria V. Snyder. So I believe that whoever enjoyed Yelena and the books by Maria V. Snyder will also enjoy the Chronicles of Warlands.