Warmaidens by Kelly Coon
Releases: December 15, 2020
"Warmaidens is the dark, action-packed conclusion to the heartwrenching Gravemaidens fantasy duology."
Warmaidens is a pretty good sequel to the equally pretty good Gravemaidens. While I enjoyed the first one more (you can read what I had to say about it here), this was still a nice continuation of the characters I enjoyed from the first book.
Warmaidens begins shortly after the events of Gravemaidens. Kammani and her fellow escapees from Alu have found refuge in the city-state of Manzazu. Kammani has become a reknowned healer, gaining favor from the band of female warriors that she brought back from the brink of death. All seems well--until an assassin shows up and kills a healer he thinks to be Kammani and attempts to kill the heir to the throne of Alu. With the group found, the queen of Manzazu offers her help, but only if they agree to a show of force to take back their home. Kammani and her friends set out to save their home and reinstate the rightful queen, before war breaks out and kills everyone they love in the process.
I think I wanted more from Warmaidens than it could give me. Coon is a good writer, but I felt like her characters just fell short for me which, in turn, made the story fall short.
What I really enjoyed from this installment was the new gods and the Boatman. I think gods and religion can really help set up the world and Coon does a nice job with this in both Gravemaidens and Warmaidens. I definitely would have enjoyed delving into them more, but I liked the glimpses of them that we got.
I really liked that, at the center of it, the book surrounds females, their relationships, and their empowerment. This continued in the second book with the all-female group of elite warriors. I really liked their dynamic and thought they added strong female representation. But, their strength was not only physical: they were smart and cunning, strong in the art of battle but also disguise. I liked that the girls taught and learned from one another, making each character grow in their own way.
I liked the growth I saw in Kammani's sister in this book and wish it would have extended to Iltani as well. I feel like they switched places for me; her sister was rather annoying and whiney in Gravemaidens, but this time she was more grown up did what she could to help instead of making things more difficult. Iltani, on the other hand, took her place and made everything really difficult. Unfortunately, I just found myself annoyed by Iltani this time around.
While there was a lot to enjoy with this sequel, not everything worked for me.
Now, I love a good love story, but Dagan and Kammani just don't do it for me. I think I liked them better in the first book than I did in this one. While I didn't agree with some of the things they did or said, I'm glad Kammani stuck to her principles and did what she thought was best for her and her beliefs when it came to being with Dagan, even if it doesn't all exactly make sense to me.
I felt like Kammani really doubted herself a lot more in this book than she did the first, which surprised me after all she accomplished in the first book. I think her lack of confidence led to most of the mistakes she made in the book, all of which could have been avoided.
Overall, I enjoyed reading this sequel and think it tied up the story nicely. I can't wait to see what Coon does next.