Vanguard by Ann Aguirre
Publication Date July 25, 2017
Summary from Goodreads:
The Razorland saga continues. Since the war ended, Tegan has dreamed of an epic journey, so when she has the opportunity to sign on as ship’s doctor, she can’t wait. It’s past time to chart her course. Millie Faraday, the kindest girl in the free territories, also yearns to outrun her reputation, and warrior-poet James Morrow would follow Tegan to the ends of the earth.
Their company seems set, but fate brings one more to their number. Tegan will battle incredible odds while aiding Szarok, the Uroch vanguard, who has ventured forth to save his people. Szarok is strange and beautiful, like a flower that blooms only in the dark. She shouldn’t allow him close, as such a relationship is both alien and forbidden. But through stormy seas and strange lands, she will become stronger than she ever knew.
This is a companion novel of the original trilogy. You don’t have to have read the original books in order to enjoy this one, but it probably wouldn’t hurt. You will have a deeper understanding of the characters and even the plot with the background of the trilogy in your head. I was happy to see Tegen and Morrow get their own book, they were two of my favorite characters from the original work and I wanted to know more about them and to hear the story from their points of view.
Tegen is a much more conflicted character than we are lead to believe in the trilogy. She has a lot of built anger and shame about her past, but she really keeps it under wraps and doesn’t admit any of it to anyone. I’m not sure I liked the way she kept Morrow at arms length or how she treated him at times, but once I got to know her a little better I understood it more. I really wanted her to love him as much as he loved her. Tegen really comes into her own here and goes on much more than a physical journey as she learns to accept herself.
I have a thing for story tellers in books and I just loved the way that Morrow can enthrall an audience with his stories. His love of books is amazing, especially when you think about how little has been saved from the time before. But he made it his mission to save the books he could long before we meet him, how can you not like that in a man? I loved the scene in this book when he goes into a library in one of the settlements they pass through. He just gets books and libraries and I love it. He also comes into his own in this story and finally sees himself as more than the storyteller.
We don’t get any of the story from Millie’s point of view, but that was okay. It is nice to see her change through the eyes of Morrow and even Tegen. She is a stronger girl than either of them give her credit for. You often see her as a silly girl looking for adventure without knowing what the hardships she will face really mean. But she proves herself time and time again as a strong and capable young lady.
Szarok was the most fascinating of all. If you read the trilogy than you know what it means when I say that it was amazing to learn about the Uroch through him. Is till have a hard time picturing exactly what he looks like even though Tegen gives a very good description of him. I really loved reading the story from his point of view. It also gave a good inside look into what his people are thinking as well. You have to admire him and his people for wanting to find their own place in this world.
I don’t want to say much about the plot of this story, but it is very different from the trilogy. Although there is adventure and survival at stake for all of the characters it is at the heart a romance story. It is also about finding yourself and being comfortable with making the hard choices in life. I really enjoyed it and even though I don’t think there will be more stories set in this world, I kind of wish there would be.
A very enjoyable read that will keep you up at night turning the pages to see what happens next.