Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo – REVIEW
She will become a legend but first she is Diana, Princess of the Amazons. And her fight is just beginning …
Diana is desperate to prove herself to her warrior sisters. But when the opportunity comes, she throws away her chance at glory and breaks Amazon law to save a mere mortal, Alia Keralis.
With this single heroic act, Diana may have just doomed the world.
Alia is a Warbringer – a descendant of the infamous Helen of Troy, fated to bring about an age of bloodshed and misery. Diana and Alia will face an army of enemies, mortal and divine, determined to destroy or possess the Warbringer.
To save the world, they must stand side by side against the tide of war.
“We cannot spend our lives in hiding, wondering what we might accomplish if given the chance. We have to take that chance ourselves.”
Before reading this, I didn’t know much about Wonder Woman. I was too young to have watched the TV series, I haven’t been able to see the film yet, and I’ve not read any of the comics. Thanks to this book though, I am now completely in love with Diana. Leigh Bardugo has obviously researched the history and myths that inspired the creation of Wonder Woman, and this lends a richness to the story with its references to Greek goddesses, the Oracle etc (see the acknowledgements for recommended books). I can’t wait to read some of the suggested books and learn more about the mythology of the Amazons.
“It’s not just to ask someone to live half a life,” Diana said. “You can’t live in fear. You make things happen or they happen to you.”
Diana is only sixteen in this book and trying to find her role on Themyscira, an island where the other Amazons have all earned their place. The responsibilities and expectations that accompany being a princess emphasise the burden a bloodline can be. This is a theme that is central to the story and also explored in the character of Alia Keralis, a warbringer on a quest to end her curse as a catalyst for war. What makes a hero? What makes a legend? These are questions that Diana constantly muses over as she tries to forge her own destiny. Diana comes to realise that believing in yourself is the first step towards becoming a hero. One of the main qualities that I loved about Diana was her empathy. Instead of patronising or mocking the weakness of humans, Diana is in awe of mortals. The juxtaposition of her compassion and physical strength make Diana an amazing role model.
“Sister in battle, I am shield and blade to you. As I breathe, your enemies will know no sanctuary. While I live, your cause is mine.”
The relationship between Diana and Alia was one of the book’s greatest strengths. They formed a sisterhood and bond that was wonderful to see, and they are a great example of female friendship. The clash of cultures when they first meet produced some wonderfully comic moments. It also allowed the reader to view our culture with new eyes – the inherent sexism and misogyny that are immediately apparent to Diana after growing up on the all-female Themyscira. The clash of modernity and myth is slightly jarring at first but this just emphasises the clash of cultures even further.
“If you cannot bear our pain, you are not fit to carry our strength.”
In addition to Diana and Alia, I loved the character of Nim who provided most of the comic relief. Nim is unapologetically fat and bisexual, which is just amazing to see for once. What was particularly refreshing about this book was the mainly non-White cast of characters. Apart from Diana who is White, Alia and Jason are Greek/African-American, Theo is Brazilian, and Nim is Indian. My one niggle was that I didn’t find the identity of the bad guy to be particularly plausible but hopefully when I re-read the book I’ll notice hints to their identity that I missed the first time. I can’t wait for the next DC Icons book, Marie Lu’s Batman: Nightwalker, released January 2018. I would definitely recommend this book and already have the Waterstones exclusive edition pre-ordered (a friend is also sending me a signed US edition as I love that cover too!).
A celebration of sisterhood and female strength that I would definitely recommend.
|About the Author
Leigh Bardugo is the #1 New York Times bestselling and USA Today bestselling author of the Six of Crows Duology and the Shadow and Bone Trilogy, as well as the upcoming Wonder Woman: Warbringer (Aug 2017) and The Language of Thorns (Sept 2017).
She was born in Jerusalem, grew up in Los Angeles, and graduated from Yale University. These days, she lives and writes in Hollywood where she can occasionally be heard singing with her band.