Wardance Book Review *Elizabeth Vaughan*
Spring returns to the Plains, and with it, the Time of the Challenges, when warrior fights warrior in a contest for rank and status. For Simus of the Hawk, now is the time to raise his challenge banner, to fight for the chance to finally become Warlord.
But his deadliest challenge does not come from other warriors, or even the sundered Council of Elders. For on the first night of the Challenges, a mysterious and deadly pillar of white light scorches the night sky—instantly changing everything for the People of the Plains.
Now a warrior-priestess, Snowfall, stands before Simus, who dares to speak of peace, of reconciliation. Her knives are sharp, her tattoos alluring, and her cool grey eyes can look through Simus and see…everything.
Now Simus and Snowfall must solve the mystery of the pillar of white light, and protect their people from all the destruction and chaos it brings. Snowfall fights for her place beside Simus, despite resistance from friend and foe.
The warrior-priests have abused their power for many years. Can Simus face the challenge of trusting Snowfall with his honor? And perhaps . . . with his heart?
Elizabeth Vaughan is one of my all time favorite authors. Her first three books from the Chronicles of the Warlands– Warprize, Warsworn, and Warlord are on my keeper shelf, and books I re-read almost every year. The last time Elizabeth published was 2011. I’ve waited years for her next Warlands book, and was doing the Snoopy Dance when I heard she would self-published Wardance.
Wardance features, Simus, the larger than life character who made quite an impression in the original trilogy. He’s brash, bold, hilarious, strong, and a true warrior, the ultimate warlord like Keir, the hero of the original trilogy who still makes me swoon. Simus is also not your typical type of hero. He’s not drop dead gorgeous, he’s large and broad, and very dark and fierce. But he’s also a big teddy bear who has an ego, but also is very loyal to his friends and fellow warriors he would help defend. Wardance is his story, and how he comes into his own as a leader. The romance is a side story, and possibly the weakest here. Snowfall is a worthy partner for Simus, but because Simus has such an engaging personality, Snowfall is pushed into the background. Also because of the insta-love/lust from Simus toward Snowfall, and their separation for more than half the novel, their relationship and chemistry, which leads to “I love you” too quickly and fast is a bit of a downer. But since Wardance isn’t a “romance”, you will forgive Elizabeth for the tepid romance of Simus and Snowfall because everything else here s so rich.
Readers can’t read Wardance without reading the first three books of their series. You’ll be lost if you do because old characters from past books appear. To understand Simus, you must read these past books to fully understand his motivations and the world he inhabits. Wardance takes place a year or two after the events of Warprize. Simus has returned home to his people and the Heart of the Plains to become a true warlord. He must fight others for the title, and could die as a result. As he trains, he comes in contact with Snowfall, a warrior-priestess who has powers of invisibility. Simus doesn’t have a high opinion of warrior priests because they are set in their ways and refuse to accept the future and progress that is coming. When Simus and his fellow warriors return to the heart of the plains, a catastrophic disaster occurs. On top of this, a new threat emerges in the form of man eating monster like dragons that attack any living thing. Not only are Simus and his people at a loss on how to defeat these creatures, but Xy as well, the city Keir, Simus’s Warlord took over, and married Lara, the ruler there.
Prior to these dragon monsters attacking, Simus and Snowfall establish a relationship and bond, which transforms into love. But their road to happily ever after is full of danger and possible horrors, not only from the dragon monsters, but from their own people who may want to destroy Simus, as well as Keir and Lara.
Wardance is a colorful tale with magic and fantasy. The story building is incredible, as is always the case with Elizabeth and this series. Simus is a joy to read, although his personality is a bit toned down. His attraction to Snowfall is powerful, but I felt their relationship was rushed. Their love for one another is too swift, and because of that, I was a bit disappointed in the outcome of their bond.
There are some surprises here, especially with the ending that’s a cliffhanger and has introduced two new characters that will have you anxious to see how their relationship evolves. The word “warprize” is invoked, which leads me to believe the next book will be about these two, much like Keir and Lara. But there is a big twist because it involves two characters of the same gender. If that’s the case, I can’t wait to see what happens.
Wardance is another thrilling installment to this series that I can’t get enough of. I hope the next book is published sooner than later so I can continue to submerge myself in the wonderful world of the Warlands the talented Elizabeth Vaughan has created. ($7.99, Self-Published)
Final Grade: B+