Seriously, if no one had told me that this was Browning's first venture into SF/fantasy fiction, I wouldn't have guessed it. The writing is gripping, compelling, page-turning. This is a can't-put-down book, one of those occasions where I had to stop (frequently) and remind myself I was reading it for a review! It's that good. I ceased to be a reviewer and simply became a reader, letting myself be pulled along by the story.
It's quite a story, too! Claire – an MX, which stands for eMpath with eXtra abilities – is purchased by Koda, the title warlord. Claire belongs to an elite class of women, empaths whose abilities to “read” other people makes them invaluable to the Conglomeration, an organization that seeks domination over other societies through trade.
The abilities of Claire and the other women also make them feared, so feared that they are now marked for death by the people who have groomed and developed them. Claire doesn't know she and the other women are doomed. She doesn't know that Koda wants to save her and the other women. She doesn't know there is a prophesy regarding the eMpaths and Koda's people.
The author weaves Claire, Koda and the plot into a wonderful dance of complexities, lies, deceptions, romantic entanglement, and discoveries. She does it with a deft hand and an excellent eye for human – and nonhuman – nature. The romance, and romantic tension, between her two main characters is beautifully and, in my humble opinion, realistically done. On the SF/fantasy side, Browning achieves that sense of wonder that is vital to the genre.
And it's all grounded in enough reality to make it totally believable.
One small caveat – This book contains explicit sex and some vioIence. If you're not comfortable with that, it probably isn't the book for you. It's definitely for mature readers. But for those who enjoy well-written SF/fantasy and/or romance, it merits a solid 5 Stars.
And now … meet the author: L.W. Browning
Tell us a little about yourself – your background, family, work experience, etc.
I am a GRITS, one of those Girls Raise In The South. I grew up mostly in the south although we did travel quite a lot. I always wanted to be a writer but I did not know how I could make a living doing that so I majored in Business in school. I programmed computers for about 30 years. I enjoyed it. I knew that I would never know everything and that challenge kept it interesting for me. I retired so I could so what I always wanted to do… write. And I love it.
What do you enjoy doing when you aren't writing?
I really enjoy my flower garden. I have always been an avid reader. I also paint in oils. Landscape painting is fun for me. I have dabbled in impressionism and fantasy painting but the paintings I’m most proud of are old houses, barns and buildings, some of them falling down or gone now. I like that they will live forever on my canvas. I think that desire to paint and explore old buildings comes from my love of history. And I really enjoy doing things with my grandchildren. I have three precious girls who are as smart as they are beautiful. The joy of seeing the world through a child’s eyes never gets old for me.
Everyone has their own unique journey on the way from a “want-to-be” writer to seeing your book in print. What has your journey been like? Is there anything along the way that you would like to do over? Change?
What I have always heard is, get the story written. Get it out there. So I did that. However, I lacked the skills a writer should have to tell a story. That was a painful experience. That first fiction novel took a very long time to write, there is blood sweat and tears in that story. I always wanted to write so having a book published made me smile. I think my friends and family were more impressed than I was. I always intended to write books. I told them, I just don’t think they believed me.
I wrote technical documents for 30 years. Writing fiction is very different. I knew when I began that I did not have the skill set necessary to write fiction novels. However, I knew I could learn the skills. My daughter helped me with the structural edit. My first attempts at this story were pitiful. People told me it was bad. I always asked… what’s wrong and how do I fix it? It was a slow and painful journey and I had some great help in the form of wonderful beta readers, a great critique partner and finally a professional editor. That first Christmas I asked everyone for Amazon gift cards. I bought books on writing, grammer, punctuation, etc. And I read them and studied them and applied them as well as I could. I am excited with what I’ve learned but I hope to continually improve.
What kinds of books do you enjoy reading? Do you have a favorite author – or authors?
I began reading westerns and scifi when I was in elementary school. I read every Walter Farley book and anything about horses. When we moved into a new town, we made three stops… the bank, the post office, and the library. Later on I read thrillers… I like to see them find the bad guy. I love Lee Childs’ Jack Reacher series and Iris Johansen. I’ve read a lot of historical romance. Friends at work told me about True Blood which was written by Charlaine Harris who lives fairly close. The book is based on her paranormal series The Southern Vampire Mysteries which is based in the area where I live. I read them and loved the heroine. Searching for a similar series, I found Patricia Briggs Alpha and Omega and Mercy Thompsons series. I read Midnight Breed by Lara Adrian. I was addicted by this time so I went on to read Black Dagger Brotherhood by J. R. Ward and Kresley Coles’ Immortals After Dark. My favorite series is Karen Marie Monning’s Fever Series. I had never seen anything like it. A friend at work enjoys the same kind of books I do and so we still trade information on what we’re reading. I love to recommend a book or a series to someone and have them tell me later that they enjoyed it.
When did you decide you wanted to be a writer? What influenced that decision?
As a young girl, I pestered my grandparents and great aunts and uncles for stories of “the olden days”. Stories were pitifully few from them. One day one of my married in aunts was sharing an interesting story about her family and I asked why my family didn’t have any stories like that to share with me. She explained that it was because my family had no storyteller. I decided I would be the storyteller. I could not go into the past, but I could tell about my experiences.
What is the inspiration for your book? Especially the characters Koda and Claire … What gave you the idea for them and for this plot?
Koda and Claire came to me gradually. I read several books and felt disappointed in the hero or heroine. I don’t care much for broken heroes. I decided I would write a story and make my characters do what I thought they should do. Little did I realize when I began that the characters begin to take on a life of their own and sometimes… they don’t do what I want them to.
The plot came from my own experiences. I wanted to show that being different was not always cause for fear and hate. I wanted to show tolerance of those who are different from us. The bad guys in this book have no tolerance and much hubris. For the characters, I wanted to do something different from vampires and werewolves, although I have a great idea for a vampire story, this one came to me stronger and clearer.
Is this a stand-alone book, or will there be others with these characters?
I hope this book can stand alone, but it is the first of a series. There are a lot of characters and I hope I can handle them all as they develop in the story. The characters have a lot in store for them.
You're self-published. What prompted you to publish your books yourself?
Patience is not one of my virtues. I started writing late and I did not feel that I had time to go the traditional route and have countless manuscripts returned to me. Publishing is in a state of flux now. The traditional publishers are struggling with all the Independents in the market. It’s an exciting time to be publishing, no matter if you’re independent or traditional.
Describe your writing process. Do you outline your story ahead of time, or do you just sit down and write?
Oh, I wish I could outline. I’m a very unorganized writer. I have the main theme in mind. I know what I want the story as a whole to say. Then I have scenes in my head that I want between the two characters. Then I just find a way to get from one of those scenes to the next.
I understand. I'm a "pantser" too. Now ... Your cover is amazing! Where/how did you find it?
Thank you. I have a very talented daughter who is an artist. In fact, she does everything better than I do. I had an idea of what I wanted, I sketched it out for her and we found three pictures and bought them. She used her artistic magic to put them together and make a fantastic cover. I’m very proud of the cover artwork.
What's your favorite part of the writing process?
The writing is my favorite part. I love to just sit and write. And yes, I rip out and start over and move scenes around, but I love it. I guess the part I get most excited about is when a beta reader or a reader says something to me and I realize I did get my point across by showing rather than telling. That gives me a tremendous amount of pleasure. To know that I made a reader decide something for themselves that I wanted them to know, that is a great feeling for me.
You sound like me in that regard. What's your least-favorite part of the writing process?
I hate to say this, but book promotion is my least favorite part. I really just want to tell stories.
Yep, Linda! I totally agree! So ... What advice would you give other aspiring authors?
Write. If you don’t have the skill set needed to writer, get it. Read, take classes, get together with other writers and learn how stories should be written.
Amazon ebook U.S. - http://www.amazon.com/Warlords-Honor-Krystile-Warriors-Browning-ebook/dp/B00H30I99O/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1386174860&sr=8-2&keywords=Warlord%27s+Honor
Amazon ebook UK - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Warlords-Honor-Krystile-Warriors-Browning-ebook/dp/B00H30I99O/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1386179174&sr=1-1&keywords=Warlord%27s+Honor+%28Krystile+Warriors%29+[Kindle+Edition]
B&N Nook - http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/warlords-honor-l-w-browning/1117608113?ean=2940148856696
iTunes - https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id776184825
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Shelfari - http://www.shelfari.com/books/36999667/Warlords-Honor-(Krystile-Warriors)
Bookworld - http://www.bookworld.com.au/ebook/warlords-honor/46428020/
Twitter - https://twitter.com/LaloLafleur