Warrior is the second installment in Jennifer Fallon’s WOLFBLADE trilogy, a prequel to her DEMON CHILD trilogy. Both trilogies make up the HYTHRUN CHRONICLES. In the first book, Wolfblade, which you’ll definitely want to read before picking up Warrior, we were introduced to Marla Wolfblade, sister to Lernen Wolfblade, the High Prince of Hythria. When we first met Marla, she was a bubble-headed blonde teenager dreaming of marrying a handsome warlord. At the end of the very long (600 pages, 25 hours in audio format) story, Marla had become a cynical and savvy politician and the most powerful woman in Hythria, thanks to her dwarf slave and a series of unfortunate politically-motivated disasters including adultery, betrayals, kidnappings, and assassinations.
Warrior picks up eight years later. Marla, the richest woman in Hythria, is now basically running the country while her brother, the High Prince, debauches himself. Marla’s one goal is to keep Hythria and its throne safe for her son Damin. Her greatest enemy is Alija Eaglespike, the High Arrion, who wants her own son to be High Prince. In an attempt to discover Marla’s secrets and plans, Alija tries to get Elezaar, the dwarf who is Marla’s tutor and confidante, to betray Marla.
Meanwhile Mahkas, who’s acting as regent of Krakandar province until Damin is 25, is doing his own scheming. He plans to raise his family to nobility by marrying his daughter to Damin, despite the fact that they don’t love each other. Mahkas has been a good regent so far, but as we saw in the first book, he can be brutal when something gets in his way. Marla’s other children and stepchildren are also growing up, of course, and she wants to make sure that each is placed in a position that’s powerful enough to help Damin. They are tools, but she loves them and wants them to be happy tools. Much of the story focuses on these kids, which is a nice change of pace. The story spans about twelve years, so we see each of them grow up.
In addition to all of the political intrigue in Hythria, Marla also has to worry about the plague that is devastating the populace. Across the border, the Fardohnian king has his own reasons for bringing down the Wolfblade family, and this seems to be an opportune time to attack. At the end of Warrior, the political landscape has been completely changed, Marla’s family has another major tragedy that will have far-reaching consequences, and Marla begins to wonder if her love for her children, and especially her desire to protect Damin, have turned her into a monster.
Readers who loved the characters and political drama of Wolfblade will be happy with Warrior. It’s just as brutal, twisty, and tragic. It’s a big (26 hours on audio!) epic soap opera. It’s Dynasty with swords and magic. For the most part, I was absorbed in the story, but I found myself occasionally getting impatient with the slow pace. Also, as I’ve mentioned before, I don’t completely believe in the Hythrun society’s gods and guilds. I won’t give the particulars again, because I’ve done that in other reviews, but my skepticism about the society means that I have a hard time believing some of the plot. For example, why didn’t Elezaar just lie? Why can’t Marla just pay to have Alija assassinated? (Or vice versa?) It seems like that’d be easier, faster and more effective than setting up these convoluted schemes to bring each other down.
I listened to Audible Studio’s version of Warrior. Maggie Mash, the narrator, has an attractive and suitable voice. Her pace is too slow, but I was able to fix that by tripling the playback speed (this has no effect on the pitch). Her reading of some of her dialogue is choppy and stilted, which is slightly annoying, but not enough to keep me from recommending this version.
The Demon Child Trilogy
The Wolfblade Trilogy is a prequel to The Demon Child Trilogy