Warsworn is the middle book in a trilogy, and although it's a very good read, it suffers a little from its position; it doesn't quite have the freshness and excitement of the first novel or the sense of completion of the third.
It's the follow-up to Warprize, an excellent read following Xylara, daughter of the old King and half-sister to the current King of Xy, who is given as tribute to a raiding warlord, Keir. Xylara understands her position as Warprize to be that of slavery but submits to it in order to keep peace for her people, although she fears her dreams of carrying on her work as healer in the community are over. However, she gradually realizes that position of Warprize is not that of slave but
rather very important, and that the Warlord has no rights over her but is trying
to woo her. With threats on both their lives, eventually things are sorted out. Xylara becomes Queen after the death of her brother but chooses to follow the Warlord back to the plains after appointing an appropriate person to rule in her place.
Warsworn picks up the story five or six days after the end of Warprize. Lara is trying to get used to the difference in life
now that she is a member of an army on a long march home. She's never been more than a few hours' ride away from Water's Fall, her
home city, yet now she is traveling with thousands of people from a different culture whose traditions and language she still only knows in part.
Lara's behavior in this story is sometimes problematic. The central part of the story, that she goes into a walled city to treat those with the plague, ends up a disaster. Sometimes it feels that Lara just plows
her own furrow without proper consideration of other people. Keir seems equally
unable to always choose the sensible option and lets heart overrule head. It's also hard to get to the bottom of Lara's personality in this story as she appears rather self-centered in much of her decision-making.
In Warprize, her actions were shaped by the needs of her people.
Her rather all-encompassing drive to heal others is good in some ways, but in others can make her seem heartless toward those who perhaps see the bigger picture. Having read Warsworn and the final installment, Warlord, it's hard to know whether Lara did the right thing in her actions in this book.
What is good about the book is the way in which the reader learns more of the Firelanders' culture and the ways in which it differs from the City Dwellers. Lara finds much of their behavior shocking, and they find some of hers strange, too. I like the realism of the fact that people from different cultures can struggle to fit in with new traditions. Keir feels a little more elusive in this story.
He's still a heroic character (although with his own faults), but this story is more about Lara and her actions, as well as giving us more details about the Firelanders' world and characters such as Marcus.
This is a very good read set in a really excellent world, but I only give it four stars as both Warprize and Warlord, the two books around this one in the trilogy, are more enjoyable and a rounder read.