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The Unwilling Warlord by Lawrence Watt-Evans
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The Unwilling Warlord (1989)

by Lawrence Watt-Evans

Series: Ethshar (3)

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I am fast becoming a fan of Lawrence Watt-Evans whom I passed on back in the eighties for authors like Donaldson, Tolkien, and Mccaffrey. His writing style is hard for me to pin down because, on the face of it, the stories seem to be light fantasy fluff with no emotional depth. However, after reading this book, the second book I have read in his Ethshar series, I have found them to be full of depth and even compassion. Most interesting of all is how the author has a way of throwing you further along the path then you expected.

In this book, the main character finds himself forced to become the warlord of a small, rundown kingdom that is about to be attacked. While many writers would have worked you through the overcoming of the obstacles faced by the character ending with intense battles and ultimate victory, Mr. Watt-Evans finishes that in the second of three parts.

The final part deals with the unexpected consequences of how the warlord won the war. Even more interesting was the interaction between the warlord and a dangerously power warlock he had hired. A modern writer would have turned the warlock character into a twisted sick individual that needed put down like a rabid dog. Mr. Evans on the other hand portrayed him as a flawed individual who makes mistakes from being granted a reprieve from a terrible curse. His end was sad and tragic; however, he leaves a legacy of good behind. ( )
  Gkarlives | Apr 14, 2014 |
Another entertaining entry in the Ethshar series. What Lawrence Watt-Evans excels at is writing an entertaining and humorous story without things getting too absurd or slap-stick. His books are well-written, fast-paced, and have well-developed characters.

Another nice thing about this series is that even though the books are part of a series, the only real connector between them is that they take place in the same world. You can pick up any book in the series and read it without having any knowledge of events or characters from another book. The nice thing about that to me (and I am actually reading them in their published order) is that I don't feel like I'm making a huge time commitment when I pick up an Ethshar novel. I know that it will stand on it's own and I won't feel obligated to read the next one right away. I can read the one book and know that the next one will be there waiting for me without me having to remember a lot about the series in order to know what's going on.

The Unwilling Warlord is a fine example of what Mr. Watt-Evans has managed to do with the rest of the series so far. The story opens with an introduction of sorts to the main character and usually moves fairly quickly into throwing some outlandish situation at said character which the remainder of the novel will deal with resolving (if any resolution is actually possible.) In this case, Sterren, our hero, finds out that he is the only heir to the office of Warlord in a far-off land. Not only does he have absolutely NO idea what the job entails, but there is the huge hurdle of the language barrier as the people of the land do not speak Sterren's language and vice versa.

I would recommend this book (and others in the series) to anyone who enjoys some lighter fantasy and especially to those who have enjoyed Terry Brooks' Magic Kingdom of Landover series or the Myth-Adventures series by Robert Asprin. ( )
  StefanY | Feb 13, 2014 |
Not the weakest of the Ethshar Cycle, but more of a history/background of the world with a story hanging from it. I wouldn't start with this novel, but it was fine as a part of the series. ( )
  BruceCoulson | Jan 2, 2014 |
Fictionwise multiformat ebook
  romsfuulynn | Apr 28, 2013 |
A light hearted fantasy novel.. it was a quick read, very engaging and entertaining.. and also has good elements of swords and sorcery. I flew through this one and Lawrence Watt-Evans' other books (Misenchanted Sword and With a Single Spell). If you liked one--you'll like them all. The characters were well crafted, and the story was easy to follow, engaging, and while not 'hardcore' fantasy.. it had the right elements of 'jest' and actual action in the typical fantasy sense. ( )
  ft_ball_fn | Jun 8, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345354133, Mass Market Paperback)

A STAR RISES IN THE SOUTH
When the foreigners confronted Sterren in Ethshar of the Spices he was uneasy; when they all but abducted him, taking him to an obscure kingdom in the south, he knew he was in a terrible predicament.


A predicament some might actually find appealing -- he was by heredity the Ninth Warlord of Semma, least of the small kingdoms; he was a noble, and his rank afforded him material privileges, even in a place as insignificant and obscure as Semma.


But the office also carried certain terrible responsibilities: he was to win the war the stupid King had stirred up by his arrogance. Two larger and stronger Kingdoms were preparing to invade Semma.


And if the country lost, the first thing likely to be forfeit was the life of the Warlord.


And if it won . . . if it won, the fate and shape of Ethshar would change forever.


For deep in the south there are secrets of magic not even Sterren can imagine.


A LEGEND OF ETHSHAR

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:05 -0400)

Fantasy fiction. When the foreigners confronted Sterren in Ethshar of the Spices he was uneasy; when they all but abducted him, taking him to an obscure kingdom in the south, he knew he was in a terrible predicament. A predicament some might actually find appealing -- he was by heredity the Ninth Warlord of Semma, least of the small kingdoms; he was a noble, and his rank afforded him material privileges, even in a place as insignificant and obscure as Semma. But the office also carried certain terrible responsibilities: he was to win the war the stupid King had stirred up by his arrogance. Two larger and stronger Kingdoms were preparing to invade Semma. And if the country lost, the first thing likely to be forfeit was the life of the Warlord. And if it won . . . if it won, the fate and shape of Ethshar would change forever. For deep in the south there are secrets of magic not even Sterren can imagine.… (more)

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