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REVIEW

"A Virtual Gem of a Fantasy"

Neil Scott, co-owner of the Virtual Heaven video game shop, was not a warrior. He was not out to conquer the world. In fact he'd given up a lucrative job in New York to return home to Ocean City. There he had hoped to become a teacher, but even that dream had been put on hold, while he attempted to help his mother straighten out her messed up life. Solid, reliable, and responsible, that was the kind of man Neil was. But no more. Every failure had torn away a little piece of his heart, and in the end it had been an exercise in futility. Her funeral had been this morning, her death another DUI statistic.

Now a small salt water taffy box containing a few pieces of expensive jewelry, and a pair of glass rose earrings made by his grandfather, were all that were left of what had once been his family. Other than the roses, the jewelry would be useful where he was going.

Where was he going? That's what his partner Gwen Marlowe wanted to know, when she walked into the shop late that night. She was more than worried when she realized that he was studying the Astronomaniacs progam. Gwen had visited the virtual world inside the Tolemac Wars game. It had given her her beloved Vad, but she cautioned Neil that the Virtual world was barbaric and hostile, especially for one who did not possess the armbands of a warrior or a noble.

But Neil had a plan, and according to his research tonight was the night of the required conjunction. Not possessing a warrior's armbands, he'd donned the costume of a wealthy merchant left over from Tolemac Wars balls. He had chosen to assume the role of the popular Unknown player, a faceless character who was free to chose his own destiny. Neil could start over in a place where no one knew his name. In any event he'd chosen a new one for himself, Lien. There he would be responsible for no one, and he would definitely steer clear of the new game's featured character, whom he had dubbed Refrigerator Girl.

Neil may have run away from home, but he can't run away from himself, and no sooner has he begun to materialize in the virtual world he is already fighting someone else's battle. What else could he do? The poor woman was vastly outnumbered and about to be brutally violated. He takes a beating for his effort and is stripped of all his possessions. So much for his best laid plans.

The woman is none other than Ardra, the Selaw guardian of the ice, Refrigerator Girl herself. She's got big problems. Her elderly life mate, Tol, is on his death bed, and her son is much too young to assume responsibility for the Fortress of Ravens. Women in this world have no power, and the Tolemac High Councilor, Samoht is waiting like a vulture on the border for Tol's passing to lay claim to the fortress, and her person. The last thing Lien wanted to do was get involved with Ardra's problems. The fate of the Selaw people would not rest on his shoulders if he had anything to say about it.

Lien is different from any man Ardra has ever known, from his dark hair and eyes, to the contradictory serpent painted on his arm where rings should be, to the symbols of Tolemac loyalty he wears on a chain around his neck, which he swears are simply jewelry in his land beyond the ice fields. She may owe him her life, but she's not about to trust him. Although Nilrem gives the perception that he is merely a harmless old wiseman, those familiar with the series will understand when the canny old coot insists that the pair stay together until Ardra's debt to Lien is paid.

Tol's death puts Ardra just where Samoht wants her. Though two men bear witness to Tol's last request that Ardra alone be allowed to rule the fortress in his stead, Samoht declares it madness. However he would prefer Ardra to submit to him willingly. Giving the illusion of fairness, Samoht trades on Ardra's honor by sending her on a futile quest, knowing that he would have her compliance when she failed. When Lien learns that the High Councilor plans to accompany her party, he reluctantly agrees to act as protector. It doesn't take the eight day limit for Lien to realize that here is a woman who is capable of being responsible for herself, or that everything he'd once found lacking in her were the very things that attracted him to her. Now he's the one with the problems!

Ann Lawrence has once again managed to pen a tale that is both inspirational and humorous at the same time. Lien is the unlikely hero, he is the common man, not a conqueror, but a defender of those smaller and weaker than himself. It is simply part of his nature and often taken for granted, until a crisis forces us to take a closer look. We know Ardra too, she is the woman who puts her own wants aside and does what is best for those in her care. She is what she is, no intrigue, no surprises, her name spelled the same backwards and forwards. These two are made for each other and one can't help but pull for their success. They are reflections of the best within ourselves. VIRTUAL WARRIOR not only shows us this reflection but allows us to laugh at ourselves as well. This book is a real gem. I highly recommend it.

Copyright 2002

Reviewed by Leslie Tramposch
Posted July 8, 2002

SUMMARY

Where does reality end and fantasy begin? With a virtual reality game that leads to another world? At the fingertips of a bedraggled old man who claims he can perform magic? Or in the amber gaze of an ice princess in dire need of rescuing? As the four moons of Tolemac rise upon a harsh land vastly different from his own, hardheaded pragmatist, Neil Scott, discovers a life worth struggling for and principles worth fighting for. But only one woman can convince him that love is worth dying for, that he must make the leap of faith to become . . . a VIRTUAL WARRIOR.

 

Virtual Warrior
(Tolemac Wars: Book 3)
by Ann Lawrence

Love Spell
July 1, 2002
Available: November 1, 2006
ISBN #0505524929
EAN #9780505524928
366 pages
Paperback
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Other Books by
Ann Lawrence

Do You Believe?
Lord of the Keep
Lord of the Hunt
Lord Of The Mist
Virtual Desire
Paradise
Virtual Heaven


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