Despite his outward appearance, Fel'annár deeply identifies with the colonized Silvans, his mother's people, and so he cautiously accompanies his troop to the land of Tar'eastór--the land of his unknown, absent father. The young warrior must also contend with his unfolding power--part ability, part magic, it seems--which threatens to make him a pariah, keeping him from his dream before he even has a chance.
Meanwhile, Lainon, the dark-skinned veteran elf who helped Fel'annár on his first patrol is faced with the difficult task of revealing the boy's heritage to him without exposing him to the criticism, censor, or political machinations of those around him. Where they are going, Fel'annár's face will be recognized, so there is no hope of secrecy, only in telling him kindly and hoping he learns to understand.
But the journey over the mountains soon becomes a thing of peril as winter weather sets in and the warriors find themselves ambushed by a host of Mountain Deviants. Fel'annár and his friends and fellow warriors must set aside their pasts and face their prejudices if they ever hope to reach Tar'eastór alive.
In the tradition of epic fantasy, this story is told on a grand scale. One follows not only the unfolding tale of Fel'annár but other perspectives, from his aunt to royalty on both sides of the mountains. Cunning villains have their place, naturally, but they don't take center stage in this volume as the author slowly leads one further into the intricate world of the story. Still, this isn't a slow book. There are more than enough present dangers to face, even if the major villains only appear in portions.
The narration is almost poetic at times as it soars above the action and emotions of the characters to explain the world and how it is changing. It's the kind of fantasy readers will get lost in, a world rich in depth and believability. The cast is large and the names can be similar, but this seems to underscore the world-building, depicting an age where the meaning of a name mattered more than being distinct or "different."
Readers who enjoy a thoughtful adventure story, where the real day-to-day concerns of acceptance, family, diversity, and prejudice play out, will enjoy this story. It carries one off to a world of magic where political concerns, developing mystical powers, and rich characterization underscore a classic struggle of good against evil.
The Book Review Directory (5 stars)
But new dangers and shocking discoveries await Fel'annar on this journey that has been cunningly arranged for him to embark on - a new road where his survival is uncertain and his death fervently sought after by both known and unknown deadly enemies, where the line between good and evil is at times indistinct.
With the revelation of his heritage rocking the core of his existence and his preternatural gift relentlessly manifesting in ways he can barely control, the blurred lens through which Fel'annar can see his destiny becomes increasing clear. It is a destiny that plunges him headlong into the epicentre of millennia-old prejudice and hate, blood and power lust; but also a destiny where by daring to stand true to his calling and beliefs, he can change fate - the fate of those around him, of the realms he dwells in, of the universe that holds him.
It is often difficult to follow a great book with an even better one, but Lander - a gem of a writer - has successfully done so with Road of a Warrior, raising the reader up to soar on even more lofty heights of excitement, imagination and engagement with her breathtaking new book.
I said this last year for Path of a Novice, & again I say this for Road of a Warrior this year : if you only have time to read one book this year, it has to be this one! - M.Y. Leigh