09 September 2008

Review: Elizabeth Vaughan - Dagger Star

Mass Market Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Berkley (April 1, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0425220613
ISBN-13: 978-0425220610

Trained in the ways of war and the blade, mercenary Red Gloves, arriving in the land of Palins to find work, discovers that she is part of a great prophecy to save the people of this ravaged kingdom from a ruthless usurper's reign of terror with the help of a lone fighter named Josiah.


Red Gloves and her sword-sister Bethral are looking for work as mercenaries and traveling in to the lands of Palin. Soaked to the core they need shelter, warm food and a warm place to sleep as they stumble upon a hut where a goat herder opens the door. It is in that very night that Josiah sees the red gloves on the woman and witnesses the birthmark under her breast.

Red Gloves is a Chosen one, a woman who has to fulfill a prophecy to make the lands of Palin whole again, unite the High Barons and assume the throne to serve the people of the land again as the previous King once had done. Prophecy or not, Red Gloves is and will always be a mercenary at heart and needs a reward if she is going to wield her sword arm. But can de reward of gold match up to the reward of a man’s golden eyes sparkling of joy and laughter where sadness ones lived?

DAGGER-STAR has proven to be quite different from the previous novels of Elizabeth Vaughan. What I admired so in Warprize, Warsworn and Warlord is completely evaporated in DAGGER-STAR. In this novel the reader gets the classic elements of romance fantasy like a prophecy, mages, elves and an evil to conquer. The unique abundance of imagination, ritualistic customs, world and character building seemed to have been reduced to a novel that holds a promise but just couldn’t completely deliver it.

I enjoyed meeting each character in DAGGER-STAR, Red Gloves is a warrior woman and brutally honest with a down-to-earth attitude. Bethral is her sword sister and an ultimate side kick and in many ways a complete opposite to Red Gloves, giving their relationship an almost Xena-Gabriel like feel. Josiah is just a man you devour as a reader, a man from the land with a wounded soul trying desperately to restore what once was. Evelyn, the High Priestess and Ezren, the Storyteller are enjoyable secondary characters whom complete the cast and together they form the foundation of the story and become the driving force behind fulfilling the prophecy. And I almost forgot five stubborn goats whom I loved for their protectiveness of Josiah!

Each separate thread holds a promise. May it be the prophecy, the love story, the characters themselves or the plot and within the end I felt that things where rushed or not fully explained and in doing so lacked the chemistry to build op a spectacular tale. In result it missed the emotional impact with me as a reader and I could not fully emerge or relate myself to the characters or this story. Let alone have myself be swept away by the love between Josiah and Red Gloves. The two of them do create an interesting chemistry as Red Gloves is a warrior and Josiah a true man from the land. The difference in character and approach to life was interesting to see unraveled and come together.

They both have a past which also bared potential in adding much more to their character development, story and love. But with Josiah things get ignored and with Red Gloves certain expectations are created regarding her gloves. The elaboration regarding the gloves is one that, again, could’ve grabbed me as a reader were it not so randomly told. Maybe I come across as though this novel is not worth your time and this is not the statement I want to make for it does hold a certain reading pleasure. DAGGER-STAR gives a delightful easy read for those who are not avid fantasy readers and enjoy a bit of different role playing between hero and heroine. Perhaps my expectations were too high and was hoping for a well fleshed out new trilogy as I believed it would be and not a novel. I just feel that if this story had been spread out in another trilogy Elizabeth Vaughan’s talent for unique customs and details could have set up another very intriguing love story with a battle that makes you root for the survivors.

Still Elizabeth Vaughan manages to give some heart stopping moments during the story and a romance happy ending that holds a new future in store for Josiah and Red Gloves. With every character that I enjoyed getting to know in this story and the potential that DAGGER-STAR contained it turned out it wasn’t enough for me to rave about.

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