Title: Guardian (Aisling Trilogy #1)
Author: Carole Cummings
Publisher: DSP Publications
Release Date: August 15, 2017
Genre(s): Gay High Fantasy
Page Count: 285 Pages
Reviewed by: ColinJ
Heat Level: 4 flames out of 5
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Constable Dallin Brayden knows who he is, what he’s about, and he doesn’t believe in Fate. ‘Wilfred Calder’ has no idea who he is, what he’s about, and has been running from Fate for as long as he can remember. When Wil is brought in for questioning as a witness to a brutal murder, and subsequently flees, Dallin is dragged by duty into the chaos of ancient myth, fanatical religion, and the delicate politics of a shaky truce between two perpetually warring countries, all of which seem to hinge on the slender shoulders of the man he knows is not Wilfred Calder. The eventual capture of Dallin’s quarry only makes matters worse. Wil is prickly and full of rage, rebellious and lethal, and tells an unbelievable tale of magic and betrayal that threatens to rock the carefully cultivated foundations of Dallin’s world. Leery and only half-believing, Dallin finds himself questioning not only his own conscience and his half-forgotten past, but the morality and motives of everyone around him, including those who hold the power of his own country’s fate in their hands.
This is an interesting story that holds your attention and makes you want to read more. The characterisation and world building is of the classic high fantasy kind with rich evocation of location and character development that evolves over time. Both are done very well with rich language that is structured and effectively paced. The characters, both central and secondary are interesting and their presentation is timely and not overdone. Both central characters are likeable but their personas grow with their understanding of themselves and each other. As such they become more rounded and interesting as the story progresses. The villains are of course suitably villainous and mysterious. The system of magic is not particularly complex in the first book but this does not hinder the storytelling.
The relationship between the two lead characters is prickly and full of misunderstandings with the more openly vulnerable of the two being the most emotional. This could have been frustrating to the reader as such characters are often hard to like. However the author has done a good job of not over-egging the whining. In addition the reader gets to learn later in the book that both are damaged individuals with much more in common than just a fated association.
The pace of the story is handled well with a good balance of plot and context. Where there is the potential for confusion is in the mythology and politics that could have been introduced more fully to provide a better grounding for the start of the book. That said, this is revealed as the story progresses
There is no cliffhanger to this first part of the story. However, a revelation given to one of the lead characters leaves the reader wanting to know more. I look forward to the next book.