Dagger-Star (book 0ne)
Publication Date - April 2008
After captivating readers with her Chronicles of the Warlands trilogy, Elizabeth Vaughan now returns to that world with a beguiling tale of daggers and destiny. A cold and beautiful mercenary known as Red Gloves finds Josiah, a lone figure emerging from the torched fields and razed farms of his homeland. All Josiah knows about the mysterious woman is her dagger-star birthmark, a sign that she is destined to free the people from a ruthless usurper's reign of terror…Red Gloves aka Red, a mercenary with secrets and Bethral, her sword-sister, travel to Palins, a land suffering from a corrupt government. They hope to find mercenary work. Considering the land is in such turmoil they figure their services would be most appreciated, but that proves not to be the case. Finding shelter with a man who they assume is no more than a poor goatherder, Red learns some very interesting things regarding the birthmark below her breast, and Josiah the goatherder is more than he lets on.
I really enjoyed this first book. Although, I was not too fond of the leading protagonist, Red. There were times that she seemed a little too uncompassionate and just blunt. And the way she is with Josiah at times grated on my nerves. But I think having a wonderful supporting cast of characters standing beside her, making Red not always the center of the story, made her character flaws tolerable. As much as I had trouble connecting with Red, I finally did at the end. The ending was great, it fit Red's character and I was mightily pleased.
Throughout the entire book you are left wondering why Red wears the gloves on her hands. All you really know is that if she should ever take them off you should run--run as fast and as far away as you can! It was quite a shocking surprise the reason why. But it made me like Red :).
I had one other issue, but I don't think it's terribly bad, or cause to not enjoy the book. It's in respect to the Chosen and the Prophecy. It seemed a bit choppy in that you really have no clue how long ago this prophecy was foretold. All you ever get of a past time is 5 years ago. It makes you think that the prophecy started five years ago, but that can't be because Red is an adult, born with the mark of the chosen. It was always in the back of my mind while reading, but I don't think it truly hindered the experience of reading the book.
Having said that, I loved the story plot with the land of Palins in upheavel, the prophecy, the maked 'Chosen Ones', all of it made for a very engaging story, easy to follow. I have White Star, book two in this series, to read. And I'm looking forward to continuing where the story left off in Dagger-Star. I'm also working on gathering the first three books of Elizabeth's set in the same world, Warprize, Warsworn and Warlord!