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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent new book from Elizabeth Vaughan, 28 Mar 2008
By 
clairefromwales - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dagger Star (Berkley Sensation) (Mass Market Paperback)
Elizabeth Vaughan's writes romance novels that pack a real punch. Her books have emotional depth and a real plot, they have wonderful, vivid characters who are part of compelling relationships and inhabit beautifully rendered worlds.

Dagger-Star takes place in the same world as the Warprize series, but in a different country - the tribes of the plains are alluded to occasionally which make a nice connection with the previous trilogy.

The book is set in Palins a kingdom once ruled by a monarch and a high council of Lords, but the sudden death of the king, his wife and the heir in mysterious circumstances has plunged the kingdom into chaos and civil war. It becomes clear that the rule of the Regent is cruel and that atrocities are being committed and permitted.

The book follows Red Gloves, a mercenary, who has come to Palins hoping to find employment in these troubled times. She finds herself at the centre of the rebellion when her dagger-star birth mark is revealed - for the people of Palins it marks her out a one of the Chosen, who a prophecy says will cast out the usurper and return the Kingdom to wise rule. The story follows Red Gloves and the rebels as they build alliances to take back the kingdom.

The story is built up beautifully, gradually revealing more of the history of Palins and of Red Gloves and slowly bringing out the details of the characters and their motivations.

The characters in the book are wonderful.

Red Gloves is a fascinating mix of characteristics - she is a powerful warrior and beautiful sensual woman, she can be crude and brutally practical, but also demonstrates considerable political savvy and tactical skills. She also lives with the scars of a terrible past. The changes in her outlook on the world, while still retaining the essence of her character is beautifully described.

Josiah, a High Baron whose lands have been laid waste and lives alone, is another wonderfully drawn character. His strength, his love of growing things and the terrible sorrow of all that he has lost is so compelling and you can't help but he drawn in by his slow rebirth at Red Gloves' side.

There are a fleet of other characters, all given life and depth.

Evelyn, a High Priestess and cousin to Josiah is an interesting leader of the rebellion. You sense her unshadowed goodness through her actions, but her purity and sense of purpose make her leadership of the rebellion convincing rather than seem naive. There are hints of more to ponder about where story will lead - a feud with a baroness, a half-even priest in love with her and a clear hint of further complications towards the end of the book.

Bethral is Red Gloves sword-sister and fellow mercenary. She is a lovely character and her gentle compassion is an interesting contrast with her professional. Her unspoken love for a man whose life she saves is almost painful in its quiet, almost invisible intensity.

Each of the High Lords and Ladies have clearly drawn personalities, flaws and strengths. A hunter with a reputation with the ladies. A young mage thrust into ruling too early and with a jealous streak. A cold elf whose human wife softens his hard edges. A very stroppy battle mage.

There are a lot of loose ends at the close of the novel and many directions a sequel could take.

This is a world and these are characters who I want to see more of and hope that there will be more tales from Palins.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars DO NOT BUY IF YOU HAVE RED GLOVES!!, 21 April 2009
By 
Ms. Lisa Eldridge "wildchick" (ayrshire, scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dagger Star (Berkley Sensation) (Mass Market Paperback)
This book itself is brilliant but it is the exact same book as red gloves!! so do not buy twice.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars First Book in New Fantasy Series, 2 April 2008
This review is from: Dagger Star (Berkley Sensation) (Mass Market Paperback)
Dagger-Star tells the story of Red Gloves - a female mercenary who has come to the land of Palins in search of work. Josiah - a goatherder - knows very little about her, but he knows her dagger-star birthmark indicates she's a Chosen. Part of a prophecy that may set the land of Palins free.

Red Gloves is a name, that for me, took some getting used to and I think it distanced me a little from the story to begin with, though by page 7 I was interested and by page 40 completely hooked. It's more like a label than a name as such - she's a mercenary who wears red gloves. This is in a world where people change their names as their circumstances change.

Red is the alpha in this story, and is not exactly the most sensitive person. She's a much more prickly character than Lara(from the War Plains books) not so ready to be the martyr. She's practical to the point of insensitivity, stroppy, knows her own mind. But she's also loyal, brave and determined. This is a woman we believe capable of leading an army.

There is a slight role reversal. Red is very take charge, whilst Josiah is more beta. That doesn't mean he's a wimp - think Daniel Jackson from Stargate. There's strength in being able to bend rather than break. I also think it can be harder to write a believable beta hero, than a believable alpha.

This book has a large 'cast' and is told from multiple points of view, but each character has their own beliefs, quirks, desires and ambitions. Red - the mercenary, Bethral her sword-sister, Ezren - the storyteller, Evelyn - the priestess. I suspect for some people this style won't work, but I do like seeing the same situation through different eyes. There are a couple of wonderfully written parallel scenes where it's clear Red and Josiah are thinking the same thing, but are convinced the other person is thinking something else. They need to talk. :) I think as long as it adds more to the story then it's working. I wish the book had been longer so we could have gone into more depth, but hopefully there will be more books to come.

My main concern whilst I was reading was how this world fits in with that of the War Plains trilogy. The thing I liked about the trilogy was that it was a fantasy, which dealt with the cultural conflict between two peoples. There was no magic, no easy solution. Everything had to be strived for. There are hints that this is the same world - kavage, references to the Tribes of the Plains. I think what concerns me, is how what we find out in Dagger-Star, affects the world of the Plains.

In Dagger-Star we find out there is magic - elves, portals, magical fire. And in a way I wish Dagger-Star had been set in a new world, that the two worlds had been kept separate. If magic is real then maybe the warrior-priests of the plains weren't lying to Lara.

That aside, this was another story I immersed myself into and at the end there are still questions that haven't been answered. Still stories there to be told. I want to know what happens next not only to Red and Josiah, but also to Ezren, Bethral, Evelyn, Dominic, Fael, Helene. And I really want to know how Verice and Warna got together.

Elizabeth Vaughan writes stories about women who change their world. Heroines who may doubt themselves or their gifts but who ultimately triumph. And it's not through use of magic but through self-belief and determination. She's one of my favourite authors and I'm counting the days 'til the next book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars EXCELLENT!, 13 Jun 2008
By 
R. Winters "princesskelad" (Ely, Cambridgeshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dagger Star (Berkley Sensation) (Mass Market Paperback)
I had to write a review, as I received this book yesterday and finished it today. It is that GOOD. The characterisation is superb. Red Gloves is a great warrior with layers, that you want to unpeel and find out how she ticks. I sincerely hope there are more stories written about these lands.

I have read Elizabeth Vaughan's previous trilogy which made me buy this book and I was not disappointed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Strong and intriguing characters all round, 7 Feb 2009
By 
A. A. Armstrong "Open book" (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dagger Star (Berkley Sensation) (Mass Market Paperback)
Elizabeth Vaughan has created a brilliant character and placed her on/in the world of her Warprize series. The supporting characters are also well rounded and believable. Having read the Warprize series I was familiar with the world surrounding this new character which was seamlessly used as a setting, but this story would easily stand on its own for those who are not familiar with that series. I would be avid to read anymore such books from Vaughan - she creates outstanding heroines without weakening the male characters surrounding them.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wooo!, 7 Oct 2008
By 
Kelly "I am a busy mum of 2 under 3's, audio ... (Paulton, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dagger Star (Berkley Sensation) (Mass Market Paperback)
This is a great start to a new series, I loved the warlands books, this series looks promising.

White Star is the next installment and is due April 2009 and then Destiny's Star for 2010.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Starts a new series in the world of "War Prize", 8 July 2011
By 
Marshall Lord (Whitehaven, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dagger Star (Berkley Sensation) (Mass Market Paperback)
"Dagger Star," which has also been published as "Red Gloves,"
is the first book in a fantasy series set in the same Universe as the author's "War Prize" trilogy, but with most of the action taking place hundreds of miles away in a Kingdom torn by civil war and known as the Land of Palins.

The stories in the "Palins" series should if at all possible be read in the right order: all three published to date have surprise endings, and if you read a later book first it will give away the endings of the earlier ones.

The first three books in this series are

1) This book, "Dagger Star"
2) White Star
3) Destiny's Star

I strongly suspect from the ending of book three that there will be at least one more.

You do not have to have read the "War Prize" trilogy to understand or enjoy this series. That story has no direct overlap with "Dagger Star," although in a later book two of the characters in this story do visit the Plains, which is how we know that the events of this series are taking part on the same world and at about the same time. If you are interested in reading the War Prize trilogy it consists of

1) Warprize
2) Warsworn
3) Warlord

This book tells the story of a mercenary named for the Red Gloves which she never removes, and which her partner Bethral warns people never to ask about.

Looking for work, Red Gloves and Bethral arrive in the land of Palins to find it devastated. The rightful King, his Queen, and their heir had all died suddenly and mysteriously about five or six years before. The head of the merchant guild was declared regent by the council of High Barons. (And High Baronesses - though there are one or two male chauvinists in the story, this feudal country enjoys a high degree of equality of opportunity between the sexes. Hmmm - not too many real world feudal societies like that, though it does help the story work.)

Shortly after taking power, the regent and his main ally, the High Baroness Elanore of the Black Hills, launched a treacherous attack on those baronies which they thought might threaten their control over the Kingdom. They devastated the lands of Athelbryght and Farentell while killing or enslaving the people, or something even worse.

When Red Gloves and Bethral arrive in Palins, the civil war which followed appears to have burned itself out. They stay with a goatherder, Josiah, who lives alone apart from a group of very odd goats - a man to whom Red Gloves is strongly attracted, until he sees her birthmark, and insists that it marks her out as "Chosen" - and therefore a war leader who will restore justice to the land of Palins. She thinks he must be soft in the head.

Meanwhile, Bethral rescues a slave who has had his tongue cut out and been beaten and tortured within an inch of his life. Jonas calls a healer priestess to tend to the slave's wounds: at which point it becomes clear that Jonas and the slave are both far more than they appear and that the idea of Red Gloves leading a rebellion may not be so fanciful after all ...

A charming, easy to read fantasy of magic, love, and honour. Very funny in places - for example, there is a scene where a craftsman is making a special suit of armour to display Red's birthmark which sends up the Bronze Bra Guild/Chicks In Chainmail genre. In other places quite moving, as when Red Gloves explains why she never removes the gloves from which she takes that nickname.

I can recommend this series.
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Dagger Star (Berkley Sensation)
Dagger Star (Berkley Sensation) by Elizabeth Vaughan (Mass Market Paperback - 1 April 2008)
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