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on 18 March 2009
Red Gloves is 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 (written as Elizabeth Vaughan). 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 Red Gloves, affects the world of the Plains.

In Red Gloves we find out there is magic - elves, portals, magical fire. And in a way I wish Red Gloves 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.

(Note - published in the US as Dagger Star by Elizabeth Vaughan)
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"Red Gloves" is the first book in a new 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.

These stories 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, "Red Gloves" (also published as Dagger Star (Berkley Sensation))
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 "Red Gloves," 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 them.

I can recommend this series.
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on 20 August 2012
Please note that this book is called Dagger star in America so don't buy the same book twice.

I loved the warprize series and was eagerly looking forward to this series and was refreshingly surprised by how different it was. Vaughan's trademark prose is still present but her characters are fresh, and though at times a little stereotypical, are humorous and lively.

The story centres around a mercenary who has no interest in anything other than profit, until a chance encounter with a depressed goatherd who refuses to talk about his past. Reluctantly she is dragged into a battle for a throne she does not want and a country she does not belong to.

Cue much sarcasm and alpha female-ness. I loved the character of Red Gloves. She's feisty without being over the top and we get to see her softer side without it being boring. I didn't care so much for Josiah as I felt he was a little one dimensional but he served his purpose well.

The real gem of this story is the supporting cast, each with a good depth and a lot of options to pursue these secondary characters in the rest of the series.

A good start to the series, which continues with book 2 - white star
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on 30 December 2008
I really enjoyed this fantasy - a strong female protagonist and excellent supporting characters. The love story was played out very sweetly. My only criticism would be that the end was a bit too quick and neat. I thought this was going to be a series and hope that the stories of some of the other main characters are going to played out in further books.
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on 4 January 2009
This is the same book as "Dagger Star" by Elizabeth Vaughan, published by Berkley earlier last year. If someone is using another pen name you would at least expect them to write a different book and not have the same one published by a different company! Luckily i do check before i buy and did not end up with 2 copies of the same book.
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on 5 November 2010
I've been reading fantasy novels since I was a child, and these days I look for something a little different, a little more challenging...Unfortunately this is neither.

Everything about this book is so stereotypical. The characters, the plot and the world in which the story plays. It's awful. Plain and simple.

The characters are flat and bland. The main heroine of the story 'Red Gloves' is a typical alpha female. You know the kind, cold hearted and hard edged...but with a sensitive and caring side hidden beneath the surface. Please! Give us something new.
I felt absolutely no sympathy with any of the characters especially Josiah, painted as the 'lonely goatherd' with a dark past.
Everything about this book is drab and unimaginative. A group of unlikely companions thrown together by fate to save the land. An unusual birthmark, a prophecy. Blah blah blah!

Not only that...It's written badly too. The text is incredibly cheesy and simplistic. Everything is over stated, and repeated..and I quote from page 22 'Lord of Light, he wanted her.' Then again on page 93 'Lord of Light, he wanted her' Yes, we get the picture, the goatherd fancies the tough warrior woman! Like we didn't see that coming a mile off, no need to tell us twice. But it doesn't stop there as there are numerous instances where the text is repeated.

Just your everyday run of the mill fantasy book. It's like the writer picked up 'The A to Z of how to write a fantasy novel' and copied it cover to cover.

My advice is, if you're looking for a book you can pick up, that isn't challenging, that you don't really have to think about then this is perfect.
But if you want something to really get your teeth into, with a fantastic cast of fully-formed interesting characters, exciting and entwining plot, brilliant wit and a decent female heroine, then instead buy Maria V. Snyder's Poison Study, Magic Study and Fire Study. Don't waste your money or your time here.
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on 6 November 2010
this book is also called DAGGER STAR which i had already purchased but as it was a paper back i decided to keep it as it is a very good read
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on 14 April 2009
I really loved reading the Warlord trilogy. I thought the idea was original and enjoyed the detail in the books. After borrowing the books from my local library I brought the them to keep and to re-read.

I waited eagerly for the new book, Red Gloves, - but was deeply disappointed.

As I continued to read the book I thought, at several points, I was reading a book by JD Robb. The Alpha female of Red Gloves had much of the mannerism of Eve and sometimes even the way it describes how her eyes turned 'flat' when she was upset. I thought this even more so when I finally read the reason why the Alpha female keeps on her red gloves.
I felt embrassed for the author, as it was, in my mind a complete lift in tone to Eve's story ( .... in Death series by JD Robb.) It is one thing for an author to repeat words, expressions, jokes, etc, but it is unacceptable for another author to lift the essence of another author's character.

Make up your own mind but I won't be buying this book to keep.
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