Review: Warlord by Nia Mars

Reviewed by Ronelle

Lukar Xon is one of the Emperor’s most brilliant and feared warlords. He’s won battle after battle, war after war, and the conquering of Tembria is no different…until it is. Because instead of being sent off to the next war as expected, the Emperor gifts him with a governorship and a princess.

Meela is the heir to a fallen kingdom, and the conqueror’s prize. But she will bow to no one–certainly not to the barbarian who killed her father and captured her planet. She might have to surrender her body to the warlord, but she refuses to surrender her heart.


I have somewhat mixed feelings about this Nia Mars book. While it takes place in the same universe as Oath Forger (don’t worry if you haven’t read it; the references are only in passing), I didn’t like it nearly as well. Maybe it was the too-easy resolution to the external threat, the generic, worn-out character tropes, and the lack of a real villain or maybe it was the numerous typos. Either way, I’m kinda glad this was a one-shot and I (hopefully) won’t see these characters again.

Warning: Ms. Mars’ coy disclaimer about a hero who “takes what he wants” and the following heads up that “If that kind of fantasy doesn’t appeal to you, you might not enjoy this story” doesn’t provide a very straightforward message. So, to be clear; the sex was frequent, quite explicit, and in the beginning, Meela’s consent was of a dubious nature (procured by her stepmother through misinformation and deceit). For some reason in fantasy and sci-fi, dub con doesn’t bother me nearly as much as it does in ‘real world’ romance. Lukar was very dominant in their first few encounters and he was a dirty talker. I know that’s a turn-off for some people, which is why I bother to mention it. Things do end up on a more even footing by the end, however, and the consent issues are addressed.

Meela and Lukar were about as stereotypical as you can get without calling them John and Jane Smith. She was the feisty, defiant princess determined not to submit to the conquering barbarian, while he was the battle-hardened warrior who rose from an orphaned nobody to a magnificent leader respected by all who serve under him. She bows to no one and neither does he… except, eventually, to each other. Both had characteristics that ‘surprised’ the other: her care and concern for her people and his educated, scholarly side. There’s also The Childhood Best Friend (Captain Selep and Tek) and the Evil Stepmother (Belandra). Our Generic Villain was just that and he was so easily/quickly dealt with that I almost don’t know why Ms. Mars bothered to include him. There was a surprise involving him—I won’t call it a twist because it ultimately didn’t matter—but that was about all that was interesting about him.

While the premise of the conquered falling for the conqueror was one I’ve encountered before, Ms. Mars gave her story some fresh touches and humor. There were moments I found myself giggling (usually at Lukar’s dry sarcasm), and the descriptions of Tembria were vivid enough to set a good backdrop. I enjoyed the basic elements of Warlord, even if I did wish for more development and definition in the characters.

I’m not sure what happened between Oath Forger and Warlord, but the editing quality was like day and night. Where Oath Forger was basically spotless, Warlord had typos all over the place. Incorrect word choice seemed to be the biggest issue (passed vs. past, of vs. off, dryer vs. drier), but incorrect tense (usually present when past was needed) was also a problem. There was also at least one instance of mixed up pronouns (“He ground herself against her behind.”). I’m disappointed that more care wasn’t taken to clean up the manuscript prior to publication.

Bottom line: Warlord was a so-so read with a number of elements that could trigger or turn off some readers. I don’t not recommend it, but it definitely wouldn’t be the first Nia Mars book I’d suggest.

Rating: B/B-

**I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Click to purchase: Amazon

by Nia Long
Release Date: March 6, 2018

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