Susan Grant – “The Warlord’s Daughter”

11 Jun

Grant, Susan - The Warlord's Daughter
GENRE: Romance / Science fiction
PUBLISHED: HQN Books, 2009

SERIES: “Borderlands” series, #2

WHY THIS NOVEL: I like SFR and I really liked Moonstruck, the first novel in this series.


The back blurb:
“She’s the most wanted woman in the galaxy

The war is finally over. But Wren’s life is in tatters. The only living offspring of the notorious Drakken Warlord, her genes could very well start a new dynasty of terror. And the Coalition can’t have that.

She alone holds the key to finding a legendary treasure. Having seen enough bloodshed, she, petite Wren vows to destroy it before anyone, Drakken, Coalition, or Earth, can get their hands of it–but she’ll need help.

The Drakken’s ruthless evil turned Aral toward the Coalition years ago. War is all he knows, until he finds passion and love in the most unlikely of women–the Warlord’s daughter. But will trusting each other with their secrets risk not only their hearts, but their lives?”


The Warlord’s Daughter is a cleverly set up, action-driven novel.

Trying to shape your fate

On the one side, there is Wren. As the “only living offspring” of the now dead Drakken Warlord, she is sought throughout the galaxy by various parties for various reasons. Before, when her father still lived and with the war going on, she was resigned to her fate of becoming the wife to one of her father’s battlelords. Now, with her father’s death and peace between Drakken and Coalition, her once clear fate becomes murky, offering several options for her future. The one thing that didn’t change is: it doesn’t look as if she has any say in what option it will be. That is, if she doesn’t act fast.

But that’s easier said than done. Wren lived a very secluded life. She was kept in ignorance by her father whom she worshiped. She didn’t know what cruelties he inflicted on others, instead she despaired over not living up to his expectations. She was also kept in ignorance by her guardian. Only when she and her guardian have to flee to evade Wren’s execution does Wren learn that she not only is the Warlord’s only living offspring, carrying his cruelty in her blood, but that she also carries another legacy as well. A legacy that has something to do with a key, a treasure, Ara Ana and the saving of the whole galaxy.

Between these two legacies and the whole galaxy wanting her either dead or for breeding reasons to overthrow peace and resurrect the old reign, Wren clearly doesn’t have a whole lot to decide. Throw in Aral Mawndarr who claims to be her husband and oldest son of one of the most vicious battlelords, and her freedom seems to be even more diminished. She has to grow up fast and see for herself.

And what she choses to do is to honor her promise to her dying guardian: to find Ara Ana.

Trying to find your identity

On the other side, there is Hadley, newly made captain of a Triad ship, and Bolivarr, an Drakken assassin who lost his memory. They were introduced in Moonstruck, but it’s not essential to have read that novel to understand Hadley and Bolivarr’s story.

Hadley’s first mission as a captain is an expedition. There isn’t much trouble expected, in fact, no action whatsoever is in the plans. Hadley is not happy about that. She feels she got this mission because she isn’t trusted with “grown-up” stuff. Never mind that she feels pretty unsure about her role as captain and still has to settle into that role. Bolivarr’s treatments because of his memory loss aren’t all that successful but he has started to draw symbols. Symbols he thinks are important, maybe be even a clue to his identity, but frustratingly, he can’t make anything out of them except having the feeling that they are important.

Then it turns out that his drawings look like they could have something to do with Hadley’s mission: find Ara Ana.

Both parties draw closer and closer to Ara Ana and you just know that both parties will meet. Only, there are a few surprises on the way, and what shaped up to be a big confrontations turns rather into a big revelation. In addition, and more important, there’s still the secret of the key and the whole save-the-galaxy thing.

Two romances

The main romance is the one between Wren and Aral. It began when they were teenagers – a look that lasted for a few seconds. In that moment, Wren and Aral recognized each other as kindred souls. For Aral, this moment was what defined his life and his actions from then on. In some way, you could say he overthrew the reign of Wren’s father, the Warlord, to spare Wren her fate of becoming a battlelord’s wife. He wanted her for himself.

Despite that Wren and Aral only shared a look, I was willing to believe that for both, this look was an important moment in their life. They lived in a cruel and vicious society. To suddenly have the impression that someone also seemed to abhor all that – very important.

Aral held his tall frame slightly hunched over as if injured. There wasn’t a mark on his perfect skin, but his eyes were full of pain as they found hers. A searching look washed over his face and his cheeks turned pink, revealing a tender heart. A kindred spirit.
She gasped. In his face was everything she felt. She was just as vulnerable, just as out of place. Just as trapped.
We’ll find a way out,* he seemed to say. (16)

* words in bold are in italic in the book

So I didn’t have a problem that the whole romance depended upon this one moment.

Later, when Aral “has” Wren, 1) he realizes he never thought beyond his need to protect her and is cute in his uncertainness, and 2) despite protecting her is his defining motivation, he let’s Wren do what she wants and must.

Hadley and Bolivarr fell in love in Moonstruck, and their story continues in The Warlord’s Daughter. Because of Bolivarr’s memory loss, their HEA is fragile and temporary which is at times is heart wrenching to read. They are so clearly happy and so in love with each other but they suffer from the uncertainty about what happened in Bolivarr’s past. He could be married. And as the reader learns in one of the first chapters, yes there is someone important in Bolivarr’s past.

Problems

  • I thought it very convenient that Hadley got the mission to search for Ara Ana. On the surface it is an easy mission, ferrying some scientists around. But on the other hand, it is a very important mission – they search for the birthplace of the goddess! – and with the mission making the news and with all the unrest still around after the war, an experienced captain would have been the more logical choice, IMO.
  • the ending: Ara Ana and the confrontation between Aral and his father – it seemed too rushed for all the build up before to me.

Overall, I really liked The Warlord’s Daughter. I especially enjoyed watching Wren’s transformation from shy and unsure girl, who’s resigned to her fate, to a woman who came into her own and took charge of her fate. It had to happen fast and it did happen fast – just a few weeks – but then, she had a powerful motivation to do what must be done after learning the truth about her father and being his “only surviving offspring.”

Verdict: A thoroughly enjoyable read (4/5).

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4 Responses to “Susan Grant – “The Warlord’s Daughter””

  1. Jace Friday, June 12, 2009 at 5:33 am #

    Hey, great review! πŸ˜€ It was a very good read, wasn’t it? πŸ™‚ I agree with you on every point, including the problematic aspects. But where is your review of Moonstruck? πŸ˜€ πŸ˜‰

  2. Taja Friday, June 12, 2009 at 11:29 am #

    Jace – thanks! πŸ˜€ Yep, it was a very good read.

    About Moonstruck – LOL I know I said I wanted to post that one first but, uhm, I have trouble writing it. The Warlord’s Daughter was “easy.” With Moonstruck, I just sit there and think, “I really liked it!” That won’t do as a review, *g* especially because I liked it “better” than The Warlord’s Daughter.

    But I’ve not given up yet!

  3. Scott Snyder Friday, June 12, 2009 at 2:53 pm #

    Sounds like a very interesting storyline. Also check out The GH-4 Effect at Stratetic Book Publishing

  4. Taja Saturday, June 13, 2009 at 8:42 pm #

    Scott Snyder – yes, it is an interesting storyline. πŸ™‚

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