HAPPY BIRTHDAY to TRACY and ME!!
LOL, I love having the same birthday as someone else - makes it easy to remember! Tracy, I hope you have a great day today and all the best in all your endeavors!!
This year, I'm really excited for my birthday, because it falls on a Tuesday which means new books!! LOL, I know, I'm such a bookworm!! What can I say? Seriously, there's nothing better than having books being released on your birthday, especially when it's books that you really want LOL.
So to celebrate, I'm reviewing one of today's new release which I've been very excited about and really looking forward to... Warcry by Elizabeth Vaughan! Enjoy!
Warcry by Elizabeth Vaughan
published by Berkley in May 2011
Atira of the Bear is a fierce Plains warrior who lives for battle - and values freedom above all else. But when she encounters a former enemy from the land of Xy, she finds herself wanting something more than her own independence.Genre: Fantasy, romance
Heath of Xy has traveled to the Plains to serve his Queen - but also because he cannot resist the hunger he feels for Atira. Now that the Queen and her Warlord are returning to Xy, he has one more chance to convince this beautiful, proud warrior to share her life with him.
But all is not well in Xy. There is a faction of nobles who are plotting against the Queen and her barbarian warlord. As cultures clash and tempers flare, Heath and the fierce Plains warrior woman Atira of the Bear must come together to fight the conspiracy... and to search their hearts for something deeper than raw passion.
Series: Chronicles of Warlands series, Book #4
The Story: At the end of Warlord, Xylara was proclaimed warprize; however, Keir lost his status of Warlord. Although he was allowed to reclaim his status through the spring trial, Keir had to postpone his plans as Lara is pregnant. Following the Xyian customs, the birth of the heir to the crown has to be witnessed by the lords and thus, Lara and Keir along with those who remain loyal to him have to make their way back to the Kingdom of Xy.
Among their entourage are Heath, the son of the seneschal and Lara's childhood friend, and Atira of the Bear, a fierce warrior of the Plains. Atira was summoned for the warprize's confirmation and Heath had followed her and journeyed to the Plains to aid Lara... but in truth, he has succumbed to Atira's charm. Unfortunately for him, while they have enjoyed each other's company, he has been unable to convince Atira to marry/bond with him... not only because Atira treasure her freedom and independence, but also because of their different backgrounds.
Uniting these two different cultures, bettering their lives is Lara and Keir's goal, but not everyone can see it. While happy for peace, it has come at a cost and the people of Xy have yet to forget... and Keir's loss of status feels like a betrayal towards the warriors who have stayed behind. Each side has its lot of unhappy people, factions plotting and ready to make a move against the crown at Lara and Keir's first misstep. Thus, the Queen and Overlord of Xy must maneuver carefully, with the help and and support of their friends. Can Atira grasp what Lara and Keir want to achieve and can she set the example?
My Opinion: It's no secret that I love and enjoyed the Chronicles of Warlands series and I was soooooo happy when I learned that Ms Vaughan was writing more books in this series!! At the same time though, I was a bit surprised that the H/H of Warcry would be Heath and Atira and didn't really know what to expect. So, it's with a lot of excitement, but also trepidation that I picked up Warcry.
My first thought when I held Warcry for the first time was disappointment because the book is actually a bit thin. It comes at just under 300 pages and I just wanted more already LOL. However, once I finished reading Warcry - which by the way, only took me a day, I was really pleasantly surprised because Ms Vaughan managed to tell quite a complex but also very satisfying and complete story in such a short amount of time :) And in the end, I really loved this book :)
As I said, with Heath and Atira as H/H, I didn't really know what to expect. I noticed that in the whole series, Ms Vaughan avoids mentioning age completely and so, the way the characters behave, their actions, their thought process "speak" even louder, have even more impact when shaping the characters in the readers' mind. For some reasons, I always felt Atira was a bit older and so when reading Warcry, I had to re-adjust my perception of her and it was quite interesting. I think that Ms Vaughan did a great job with Atira's character. Not only was she an interesting character, but also quite complex. I love the fact that although she's loyal to both Keir and Lara, she's not quick to throw away all her beliefs and upbringing. For example, she's still uncomfortable with Marcus and Amyu's presences, with Lara's request that Keir lives on if something happens to her, etc. She really shows to the readers how difficult it will be for Lara and Keir to change both their peoples and their ways of thinking. As for Heath, I liked him a lot and he turned out to be much more than I expected :) The guy is clever, cautious and responsible. While he followed his love, it doesn't mean he forgot about his duty or responsibilities or others' feelings. Heath's been raised to follow in his father's footsteps and really, I have no doubts that Lara has acquired an efficient right-hand man. Also, Heath was very passionate and good for him not wanting to just settle for sex. He wanted more from Atira and demanded it and didn't let her belittle what they had. Personally, Heath and Atira's romance was a bit secondary for me; however, I cannot argue against the fact that the two had a lot of chemistry and some very hot scenes :) I like that the passion and anger came from both parties and neither let the other get away or walk away. Also, I have to say, Atira's grand gesture at the end? It made their whole journey worth it! :)
My favorite part of Warcry was re-visiting this world and its characters. I love seeing Lara, Keir, Rafe, Prest, Marcus, etc. again. They're all great characters, but at the same time, they did not steal away Heath and Atira's spotlights. Also, I love, love, love the contrast between the Xy and Plains people and cultures. I think this is really what makes this series stand apart. To us, readers, the two cultures aren't foreign - one is sedentary with a city, houses, forests and values and beliefs pretty similar to the medieval era and the other is nomadic with tents, deserts, clans with more freedom and liberty, but also more pragmatism in their beliefs and way of thinking, and the idea of these cultures coming together is not mind-blowing or new... but to actually read about it and witnessing it, it's much more complex in practice than in theory. Like when Atira saw the forge for the first time and realize that the Xyians actually made and bent metal and crafted weapons and jewelry... It's Ms Vaughan's attention in these little details, in her world building that makes these books so enjoyable and wow :)
As for the overall storyline, I loved it :) I love court intrigue and really, Ms Vaughan did not disappointed. She found the perfect balance to complement everything going on in the book. The storyline has its share of surprises and twists, was not overly complex, but at the same time, not too simple that it was too easily solved and rendered anti-climatic. I also loved Keir's ambitions to become warking, hinting a little at what there is in store for us in the future and tying up some loose ends from the first trilogy. Also while not explicitly mentioned, we know that the events in Destiny's Star will come into play in the future books and that will be interesting to see. Also, something very interesting about the whole series is the number of possibilities for the future that Ms Vaughan has set into place. I mean, I'd be happy to read about Keir becoming warking of course... but I wouldn't be against reading the adventures of the trade routes being re-opened or about Liam and Marcus relationship... or simply the Xyian life from a Plain warrior's POV or the changes happening in the kingdom of Xy from a Xyian POV. There is a lot of possibilities to this series and I can't wait to see what Ms Vaughan chooses! By the way, for those who don't like cliffhangers, no need to worry :) The hints are all very subtle, it doesn't feel like Ms Vaughan is trying to sequel-bait us at all, and she also does a good job at wrapping up Warcry's storyline satisfyingly :)
I feel that every element that made the Chronicles of Warlands series a winner for me was present in Warcry as well. The characters, the world building, the fast-paced storyline, the court intrigue, the humor, the action and the emotions... it's all there. If you enjoyed the first three books, you'll enjoy Warcry as well :)
My Grade: A-. It feels that all I did in this review was gushed, but really, I loved and enjoyed this book a lot. I am extremely happy that Ms Vaughan's return to the Chronicles of Warlands world is a winner and I can't wait for the next book!!