My review posted on Joyfully Reviewed: http://www.joyfullyreviewed.com/new-reviews/warrior-by-zoe-archer
Throughout the world, there are Sources: objects possessing powerful magic. But, as one might expect when dealing with objects of incredible power, there are those who wish to take it for the benefit of themselves or their country alone. That’s why the Blades of the Rose exist. The men and women of the Blades are sworn to protect the Sources, keep them in the country they belong and out of the hands of those who would abuse their power.
Captain Gabriel Huntley, formerly of the Thirty-third Regiment, knows nothing of magic. He barely knows anything of his home country after having been abroad so long in the army. But when he steps off the ship in Southampton, he witnesses an attack that changes his life forever. The dying man he tried to save gives him a message, one he must deliver to Outer Mongolia. If he doesn’t, thousands of lives could be lost. Gabriel can barely believe what the man tells him, but the staid, ordinary life he has planned for himself now that he’s out of the army is less daunting than the mystery mission laid before him.
Thalia Burgess knows even less about Victorian England than Gabriel does. Having essentially grown up in Outer Mongolia with her father, a Blade, her goal is not to sit at home and embroider, but to become a Blade herself. She doesn’t trust the mysterious English captain who first comes to her home, bringing news of a fallen Blade and a new threat from an old enemy. But with the Mongolian Source in danger and her father too injured to travel, Thalia eventually accepts Gabriel’s determination to join her on her quest.
It’s a race against time for Gabriel and Thalia as they search for the Mongolian Source. They’ll have to trust one another and rely on each other’s strengths if they want to stay one step ahead from their enemy’s magic. The two will also discover that there’s no Source that contains as much power as the one that promises to overtake them both: love.
Zoë Archer delivers adventure, excitement, and romance in the highly original Warrior. I admit, half of the reason I first picked up Warrior was the cover. A paranormal, Victorian-era Indiana Jones? Sold! What I found instead was something so much better (sorry Indy). Ms. Archer brings nineteenth century Outer Mongolia to vivid life…with some fantastical twists, of course. I loved the blend of history and magic in Warrior. Ms. Archer made the mixing of the two so seamless I was, quite honestly, blown away.
As for Warrior’s protagonists, it’s impossible not to like Thalia and Gabriel. Thalia is no ordinary English miss, but what I liked most about her is that Ms. Archer made her uniqueness plausible rather than asking the reader to take a leap of faith for the sake of fantasy. Of course Thalia wouldn’t be a typical Victorian lady; she was raised by her father in Outer Mongolia, lives mostly among men, and a good portion of those closest to her are Blades. I admired Thalia for her skill, intelligence, dedication to her cause, and loyalty to her loved ones. Gabriel is her equal in every respect. He’s resourceful and bright, protective but not overbearing. Can I mention he’s wonderfully sensual as well?
The Heirs of Albion, those English supremacists who want the worlds’ Sources to belong only in the hands of the English, are an interesting and appropriately vicious enemy. The Heirs are fascinating in their own right, but I look forward to the Blades’ defeating them in future books.
Warrior is an engaging read, though necessary world building makes the story a little slow-paced at the start. It picks up, though, a third of the way in and goes strong from there. There was also a slight bit of repetition and coincidences that were a bit too improbable that felt included for the sake of tying certain situations up with the proverbial bow. However, these incidents were few and far between, so even though I noticed them, they didn’t significantly take away from my enjoyment of Warrior.
Overall, I found Warrior to be a wonderful first installment to the Blades of the Rose series. I adored Thalia and Gabriel and the world Ms. Archer has created is incredible. I finished Warrior very, very happy I had Scoundrel, the second Blades of the Rose book, on hand, for I couldn’t wait after Warrior to jump further into the world of Ms. Archer’s Blades!