by Morgan Cole
Publication: February 29, 2020
Series: Chrysathamere Trilogy #1
**I was provided a copy of the book through NetGalley. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own.**
Marilia, the Warlord is an amazing novel with a complex heroine who isn’t prone to being the nicest person or the most humble. Readers of fantasy who are used to the chosen one trope with a likeable character who is nearly infallible might be turned off by Marilia. She may often act rashly; she is flawed and more human than touched by the gods. She has a brilliant mind, one with a penchant for strategy and warfare but societal and gender norms prevent her from pursuing anything more than a domestic life. Sibling rivalry pits her against her brother Annuweth, who is being trained in all the things she would rather be doing. Jealousy and the belief she could be much better than him if only given the same opportunities creates a strain between the siblings who once believed it was the both of them against the world.
Morgan Cole created a world that is richly detailed with complex characters. Cole excels in world building and the introduction to it was engaging. We get a glimpse of what Marilia’s life was supposed to have been before destiny takes a hand and pushes her elsewhere. The strategy and battle scenes are also very well-written. The middle is not nearly as exciting as the beginning and the end. It’s not Cole’s writing so much as this is the Marilia growing up part, where she has to deal with societal norms and grapple with feelings that she is unsure about whereas the beginning and the end are just more…exciting.
The book was tortuous! I’m used to the nice chosen one trope and so had a love-hate relationship with Marilia as soon as the sibling rivalry began. I hated that it only became more pronounced. She was brilliant and hardly humble about her skills. It frustrated me, and I desperately wanted her to make up with Annuweth. I wanted her to look beyond herself and also recognize that her brother could provide her with the insight she didn’t have but I also recognized that had all that happened, it wouldn’t have been the same book.
Passing over Marilia, the Warlord may be a rash decision on the reader’s part because this will mean missing out on a well-written novel about the rise of a woman who changed the fate society kept pushing onto her. Marilia, the Warlord is an amazing read, and I couldn’t stop turning the pages, no matter the pain it inflicted on me. I’m a bit scared to start the next book, especially with the last book coming out soon (I think), because I don’t know how much I’ll still like Marilia after the trilogy ends.