16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Absolutely brilliant fantasy - a young woman trades her life for her people,
This review is from: Warprize (Paranormal Romance) (Mass Market Paperback)
I thought this book was utterly brilliant - what a delight to read a fantasy with some romance which was well-written, the characters well-drawn and which had an interesting message.
Warprize is set in a quasi-Mediaeval world where Xylara is the half-sister of the king, Xymund. Unfortunately Xymund is a bad king and has been unsuccessful at keeping the Firelander warriors from his land - in fact, they are almost at the point of besieging his castle. Xylara works as a healer, a doctor, for the injured from both sides of the battle.
It's in going against her brother's wishes and tending to the sick of the Firelanders that she first begins to get involved in a situation which will change her life forever. She picks up the language of the Firelanders, once they learn to trust her ministrations, and is there when a new injured man is brought in. She discovers that he is actually a very important man within the warrior hierarchy of the Firelanders but chooses not to share this information with her half-brother as she knows it would mean this man's death.
Unfortunately for Xylara, her work with the Firelander men has brought her to the attention of the Warlord of the Firelanders and she discovers that in order to cement a peace treaty her half-brother has given her as tribute to the Warlord as a slave, called a Warprize. Because she is an honourable woman with a sense of duty to her people she submits to this slavery, being taken to the huge camp of the Firelanders and installed in the Warlord's tent.
And thus begins Xylara's discovery of a new culture. It's this that is written particularly well in these books - it is so easy to be confused by strange things from another person's culture and Xylara continually finds herself in unusual situations. As in real life there is good and bad in both cultures and she finds aspects of the Firelanders' culture to be good although others, particularly their treatment of the sick, to be bad. And the Warlord himself, Keir, seems surprisingly gentle with his slave. Perhaps these people aren't barbarians after all. Called only "The Warprize" amongst the people and fearful of her position within them she tries to learn about this different culture and to understand its differences, knowing all the time that the fragile peace between her peoples and the Firelanders may rely on her efforts. And yet peace is not there as she watches the Warlord kill people, she herself is under attack and there seems to be treason fomenting within the Firelanders' camp.
Warprize is definitely several notches above the other books in this genre I have read. It's very readable and the characters are all well-differentiated and different; there's a gentle romance, there are some questions and issues that aren't answered in this book but that only encouraged me to read the next and didn't annoy me. I particularly enjoyed the cultural misunderstandings portrayed and although they aren't ones that we in our world would have they rang true - it's easy to see how people can get the wrong end of the stick when meeting an entirely new culture. Xylara is a very likeable heroine, not whiny or stupid or continually throwing herself into danger but she is a loyal, trustworthy and pleasant young woman; Keir is a mixture of a warrior with a temper and a gentle man courting a maiden and although we don't see as much of him and his personality he's still a worthy hero. This is a book that I know I will enjoy reading again and again - it's going straight onto my "keeper" shelf.