Warrior Prime by Victor Gischler
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The threat of war has brought the Helvan envoy Peyne Erlich to Fryia. Unfortunately, his stay is short lived. The King's Ambassador sends him back to Helva with an urgent message about Ink Magic before Peyne can even unpack. However the ship he sails on holds an unexpected challenges and Zayda. Zayda's father's financial failure led to her being sold as a slave to pay his debts. Rather than being forced into prostitution, she finds a different path. Zayda has been made into an Ink Mage and forced into a magical collar meant to control her. Peyne and Zayda find themselves forced to trust one another in order to survive.
Warrior Prime is a continuation of the series A Fire Beneath the Skin. Many years have passed since A Painted Goddess, but some old characters are seen and mentioned in the book. The story has it's own compelling factors as Zayda is fighting to remove the magical collar that's use to control her while Peyne is trying to reach Helva to warn the King about Ink Magic.
The main characters felt similar to Ink Mage as Zayda resembles Rina and Peyne reminds me of Brasley Hammish. Zayda is a young woman who receives the prime suddenly like Rina. They are both forced to seek out new tattoos to assist them towards their goals. They each set out on significant treks with the hope of restoring their lives. Peyne and Brasley are both womanizers who drink, gamble, and steal. I realize Brasley was forced to change over the course of A Fire Beneath the Skin, but Peyne is nearly Brasley in Ink Mage.
I did appreciate the villainous Meddigar. He's a wizard who inadvertently stumbled onto Ink Magic and used his knowledge to ingratiate himself to the Fryian royalty by not only making them Ink Mages, but also providing a way to control them. Meddigar isn't completely evil, but he's truly selfish, self centered, and justifiably paranoid. Meddigar would rather take his money and secrets and disappear rather than deal with Fryia, but the Grand Sultan wants his cash cow protected, at least until he can gain the secrets for himself.
Warrior Prime felt just a little too similar to Ink Mage, but was an enjoyable story.
3.5 out of 5 stars
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