Warprize - Elizabeth Vaughan Originally posted at WickedLilPixie Reviews

Wow, I truly don't even know how to begin this review. I just finished with this one and I enjoyed it so tremendously. I had intended to just pick it up and start it the night before another book was released the next day... then found myself up until 3 AM the next morning still reading because I could not put it down. Warprize is the first novel in Elizabeth Vaughan's Chronicles of the Warlands series and what a way to start a Fantasy Love Story trilogy!

Warprize is told from Xylara's Point Of View. She has built her life around becoming a Master Healer, a profession frowned upon by most everyone in the Kingdom of Xy, as she is a Princess and half-sister to the current King of Xy. Because of her royal status, and without any real support from her half-brother, she has had to prove herself even more and does so successfully with her passion and dedication to her profession. The Kingdom of Xy is at war with the The Warlord and his Firelanders and King Xymund is failing at keeping the Warlord and his army at bay. Meanwhile, Lara's abilities have her leaving for tents of their captured Firelander enemies to help treat their wounded, at night after she has treated their own armies during the day. She sells all she has to afford the medicines from her own pocket, demonstrating a true compassionate spirit who just wants to treat the injured and dying, regardless of what side they are on. The wounded warriors eventually accept her and begin teaching her their language. Ultimately it is her open-mind, kind-heart, and healing talents that revise her destiny. The Warlord and his "Firelanders" have the Xy castle gates surrounded and King Xymund and Warlord Keir must meet privately to discuss the terms in order to achieve "true peace". The Warlord Keir, familiar with what Lara has done as a healer for his injured soldiers, claims her as his Warprize in order for the bloodshed to end. But the story is just getting started... as soon as Keir's Warprize joins his people's camp, awful things start occurring to end the "true peace" balance.

The heroine Xylara (Lara) AKA Warprize is a wonderful blend of sass with a touching vulnerability that makes her born to be a strong yet empathetic Healer. She is smart and level-headed in the face of the bloody and gory mess left of bodies after battle. She is never squeamish and talks herself through each injury and what must be done with each patient in the absence of our modern-day medical advances. Keir and his "Firelanders" speak an entirely different language and have completely different ways of life and thinking. As a Warlord he is quite frightening and yet charismatic. Lara discovers very quickly that he is also quite gentle with her and from the very beginning seems to cherish her, in what would be considered his way. She is constantly trying to reconcile in her mind what her half-brother King Xymund has told her a Warprize is (a slave) versus how Keir and his people treat her as the Warprize. Additionally, the heroine is the opposite of an all too common symptom that can plague heroines in some romance novels - the dreaded TSTL (Too Stupid To Live) syndrome. She is smart, constantly thinking and problem solving, and is repeatedly winning people over with her charm and sharp mind. Her bravery and passion to help people has never been seen by the "Firelanders". Once Lara begins to truly discover where her is place is in the very large picture of things, in both worlds, Lara takes all of her experience and outsmarts them all.

Ms. Vaughan tells a beautiful and powerful story with exquisite narration and multi-dimensional main and, just important, secondary characters. Some of the characters are so rough around the edges but all the more endearing for it. You will care about Heath, Anna, Joden, Simus, Marcus, and on. I have never read such a vivid and well imagined fantasy world so well described and felt completely immersed in these lands. She masters the ability to interweave the characters and events in a seemless flow, with no lulls, making it impossible to put this book down. From the very beginning I really felt like I was there, and I could see everything that was happening through this Lara's eyes.

In summary, I thought Warprize was a beautiful story from start to finish, in every way. Initially I was aware that it could have played out in so many "been there done that a billion times" ways, but it was so fresh and sparkling. You think you know which way it is going to go, but trust me, you don't. I don't read many Fantasy books but this one is most definitely a masterpiece and I recommend it to all lovers of Smart Adult Fairytales. When you finish you are going to be excited for the next in the series, Warsworn.