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Fantasy Romance Review: Chronicles of Warlands series by Elizabeth Vaughan

Warprize by Elizabeth Vaughan (Chronicles of Warlands #1)


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Synopsis from Goodreads
SHE MUST CHOOSE BETWEEN HER PEOPLE AND HER FREEDOM...

Xylara is the Daughter of the Warrior King, Xyron. With her father dead and her incompetent half-brother on the throne, the kingdom is in danger of falling to the warring Firelanders.

Before she was old enough for a marriage-of-alliance, Xylara was trained as a healer. She can't usurp her brother or negotiate a peace--but she can heal the brave ones injured in battle.

But not only her countrymen are wounded, and Xylara's conscience won't let Firelander warriors die when she can do something to save them. She learns their language and their customs and tries to make them as comfortable as possible, despite their prisoner-of-war status.

She never expects that these deeds, done in good faith, would lead to the handsome and mysterious Firelander Warlord demanding her in exchange for a cease-fire. Xylara knows must trade the life she has always known for the well-being of her people, and so she becomes...

The Warprize
Amazon  US/UK | Amazon kindle US | The Book Depository  


9/10

* * *
The story goes like this. 

Warprize was mentioned on Dear Author along with Last Hour of Gann, and I decided to investigate what the hell they were talking about. While it's an absolutely different sub genre from what R.Lee Smith wrote, the main thread is the same: change is introduced to a rigid society with some very deep consequences, and we are invited to observe it.


This is a fantasy romance which I'd especially recommend to the fans of Amy Raby and Grace Draven. There is that sensible core and slow building relationship between the main characters, a slew of fabulous secondary characters and plenty of outside drama without adding your own that I love so much and always look for in this genre.

Xylara is the princess of Xy, but not the heir. In fact, she voluntarily stays away from all political intrigue to pursue her passion - healing, and becomes a Master Healer. When the capital of her kingdom is attacked by barbarian Firelanders, she treats her own warriors and Firelanders equally and she is the only one who can do so because the rest can't go against her brother's (the king) orders.

Spending a lot of time in the tent of the prisoners of war, she slowly learns their language, their customs and gains their trust. And suddenly the siege is over. The barbarian Warlord agrees to favourable terms of Xy's surrender in exchange for Warprize - her. Shell shocked but determined to do right by her people, Lara agrees and leaves the capital with Firelanders on the way to their homeland.

While the slow building romance between Keir, Warlord and Lara, Warprize is lovely, the main attraction is Lara introducing tumult into an alien society. Firelanders are akin to nomadic tribes of Mongolian steppe, but they are also very different. There is an absolute equality between men and women, they are all warriors. There are no family connections, everyone has to sire/birth a few children into their tribe brought up by designated nannies before they are allowed to retire and find a permanent partner. There is no value in virginity, and Keir is horrified by Lara's untouched status and even suggests that she loses the V-card with a "qualified" teacher instead of him. 

At the same time not everything is rosy. Firelanders practise almost no healing, instead only privileged few are entitled to the treatment by mysterious Warrior-Priests, whose secrets are closely guarded, and you can imagine how well it sits with Lara. Any type of disfigurement, any deviation from norm is also considered dishonourable, and you either become an outcast or kill yourself.

There is lots of drama and heartbreak, plenty of political intrigues, and the ending it not for the weak  of heart. At the same time this series is epic and not burdened by an overcomplicated world-building, which is why it reads super fast. Hugely recommended! There is another book in the series, but Keir and Lara aren't main characters, and I've struggled to commit to it with the same enthusiasm as with the first three books. 

* * *
Упоминание о "Военном Призе" я увидела у Дорогого Автора, где его ставили на полку рядом с "Последним Часом Ганна" (книгой, которую я обожаю). Естественно я тут же решила его прочесть. Несколько дней спустя я выползла из свой берлоги с жутким книжным похмельем, готовая петь дифирамбы трилогии Элизабет Вон всем, кого интересуют фэнтэзийные романы в стиле Грэйс Дрэйвен и Эми Раби.

Я понимаю почему несмотря на различные жанры, Вон сравнили с Р.Ли Смит. Обе берут за основу героиню, заброшенную в совершенно чуждое, структурно жёсткое общество и показывают как она своими моральными убеждениями и поведением это общество приводит в хаос, привнося фундаментальные перемены.
 
Ксилара - принцесса королевства Ксай, которым управляет её брат. Она не вмешивается в дворцовые интриги, а вместо этого занимается тем, что любит  - лекарством. Когда столицу Ксай осаждают варвары воины - файрландеры, Лара - единственный Мастер Лекарь, готовый лечить и своих и чужих, так как только она может противостоять приказу короля не оказывать помощь военнопленным.

Изо дня в день работая в шатре варваров, Лара понемного учит их язык, обычаи и завоёвывает их доверие, но внезапно осада заканчивается. Военачальник файрландеров готов к капитуляции Ксай на выгодных для страны  условиях в обмен на военный приз - Лару. Естественно, принцесса жертвует собой во имя своего народа и уезжает с файрландерами, которые возвращаются домой.

Медленно развивающиеся отношения между военачальником Кейром и военным призом Ларой милы, однако самое интересное это погружение Лары в культуру кочевников-варваров. 

Файрландеры немного списаны с кочевых монголо-татарских племён, и их дом - просторная степь. Однако в системе файрландеров все равны. Воинами становятся и мужчины и женщины, каждый обязан произвести несколько детей перед тем как уйдёт "на пенсию", но понятия семьи нет. Новорожденные идут в общий котёл и за ними присматривают специальные няньки. Девственность совершенно не ценится, и когда Кейр узнаёт, что Лара нетронута, он в панике спрашивает не хочет ли она потерять девственность с "квалифицированным" учителем? *смеясь*

Однако не всё здесь одни розы. Файрландеры не признают калек и бесплодных женщин, и если те не кончают жизнь самоубийством, то теряют честь. Лекарей у них нет, но есть таинственные воины - священники, которые избирательно лечат с помощью магии. Конечно для Лары всё это дико, и именно в этих областях она встречает наболее сильное сопротивление.

Книги эти полны политических махинаций, кровавых боёв и драматичных событий. Мисс Вон не щадит своих героев, и слабонервным её трилогию лучше не читать. Однако серия эта эпически прекрасна, и я очень её советую, несмотря на минимальное построение мира. Читайте!

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