After a streak of dull books, it’s refreshing to find one that I didn’t want to tear myself away from, while at the same time not wanting it to end. White Star, the second in the Warlands trilogy, is just such a book. Vaughan’s combination of Medieval characteristics, magic and sorcery, and interesting characters, draws me again into the world of fantasy romance.
Orrin Blackhart, the Scourge of Palins, has got serious problems. He’s sick of the destruction and loss of life that goes along with war and the prize he has captured, Lady High Priestess Evelyn, captivates him with her pale beauty, strength, and laugh. She makes his war-weary self want something he can never obtain or deserve. He also has to face the fact that he will soon be responsible for her execution.
Once captured by the enemy, Evelyn knows no rescue will come from her people. In the clutches of the Scourge of the Palins, the dreaded man who serves an evil Baroness and helped to create the Odium, a group of zombie like creatures who serve as their army, she’s confused when she senses that there is far more to Orrin than evil. When he sacrifices himself for his people and finds a way to return her to her people, she offers him a similar chance at survival.
When given a chance at redemption, he grabs it and attempts to meet the demands set for him. He and Evelyn cross paths once again and join together to protect the people of the kingdom. Though Evelyn realizes quickly that she could easily love Orrin, he doesn’t feel he deserves love or security.
The chemistry between Evelyn and Orrin is nearly tangible and their characterizations stay true throughout the book. Evelyn is a high priestess and uses her powers to place the rightful ruler on the throne, whereas Orrin is the enemy and feared for his ruthlessness. Even at the end, Orrin is still feared and at times not very nice, but gentle in his treatment of Evelyn. I liked and was able to respect them both. The hero and heroine are joined in their exploits by a large cast of characters who add depth and humor to a story that at times can be bleak.
Not only are the characters sound, but the writing is as well. Vaughan world-builds with a depth and clarity that allows you to immerse yourself in the world of the hero and heroine. My only true complaint with the story is that, while it’s the second book in a series, it’s not a stand-alone. There are references made throughout the book to things I realize occur in the previous book, but that aren’t explained in this installment. It almost felt like unexplained name-dropping.
After reading White Star I now have a series to complete and an author with a backlist to peruse. If you are looking for a book with colorful world building, solid characters, and sound storytelling, this one might be just what you’re looking for.
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