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Warsworn    by Elizabeth Vaughan order for
by Elizabeth Vaughan
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2006 (2006)
* *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Elizabeth Vaughan's debut novel Warprize introduced readers to princess Xylara, daughter of a warrior king, and also a self-taught healer. When the Firelanders attack her kingdom, she heals the injured on both sides and catches the attention of invading Warlord Keir, who demands her in trade as a war prize to initiate a ceasefire. Thinking only of the well-being of her people and the continued stability of her kingdom she swears an oath of loyalty to Keir and becomes his mate. She trades the life she knows and loves for another that is completely foreign to her and where enemies lurk.

Warsworn continues Lara and Keir's story as they begin the long and arduous journey to Keir's plains homeland. Both still bask in their newfound love and trust but soon discover that that there are those who do not welcome Keir's war prize with open arms. The warlord spends his days overseeing his vast army while Lara continues studying the customs and the language of her adopted people and training apprentice healers. While still traveling through Xy lands they come upon a village marked plague ridden. Keir forbids Lara to help the few still clinging to life, but she ignores him, knowing that she cannot in good conscience abandon her own people to certain death. Her exposure to the deadly plague causes her, and those close to her to become plague-struck, a condition she and Keir barely survive, but that kills many of the tribe. This gives one of Keir's greatest rivals the opportunity to rise up and challenge the Warlord's right to lead his tribe and keep claim on Lara.

Readers will appreciate Vaughan's continued attention to world and character building as she shows Lara struggling to learn her new role and the customs of her tribe. She's certainly not perfect and makes mistakes along the way - some minor and others deadly - characteristics that make her a believable and sympathetic protagonist. Her relationship with Keir is convincing as is the political interplay and the machinations within the tribe, and those close to the Warlord who question his judgment or look to overthrow him. There is a bit too much emphasis on scenes where Lara is battling the plague and this bogs down the story and may tempt readers to flip ahead. Overall Warsworn is a nicely written, richly detailed, character-driven look into an interesting tribal society. The conclusion to this trilogy, Warlord, will be out in 2007.

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