Title: The Sun Guardian (Vanguards of Viridor #1)
Author: T.S. Cleveland
Publisher: Self Published
Release Date: December 23, 2017
Genre(s): Gay Fantasy
Page Count: 542 Pages
Reviewed by: ColinJ
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Scorch is a cocky apprentice at the Guardians’ Guild, a fellowship of warriors trained to protect the people of Viridor. But when his first guardianship turns out to be more treacherous than he’d bargained for, Scorch finds himself in league with an unlikely companion—the mysterious Vivid, a man as attractive as he is ill-tempered.
Assassins, monsters, and fearsome elementals await them on their quest to save the High Priestess, but the greatest danger of all may lie in the discovery of Scorch’s darkest secret.
This was a story that was I to read it for pleasure I may well have given up too soon. The focus of this 3rd person adventure spends much of the early part of the book being a self-centred, opinionated and slutty young man who would ‘love them and leave them’ with anybody who showed interest, regardless of the gender. How he turned out that way and why he was allowed to continue is not explained. It is obvious of course, that through the course of the story there will be a maturation and transition into the hero the reader has come to expect. Was this transition left too late? This is up to the individual reader but I felt that there was too much of the old character and it jaded me against the new improved model. The author clearly wished to highlight this change as it is reinforced on a number of occasions as well as the introduction of a secondary character that is like a mirror image of the old lead character. The new enlightened hero reflects on how much he does not like this person or how it reminds him of what he was.
The other characters in the story are thoroughly developed and there is clear identification of personality characteristics that makes them interesting. The other lead character is also a flawed individual. He is the male equivalent of the ice maiden. Although some of his history is made clear his aloofness, despite all actions to the contrary, show that he doth protest too much. Sadly this leaves the reader wishing to slap one or other of them at regular intervals.
The plot line allows for a wide range of location development and the world building in the book if of a very good level. The reader is not swamped with detail and yet there is a clear atmosphere to each of the locations. The magic system is interesting in that it is understated. This light touch makes its introduction and revelation to be an enhancement to the story rather than a central feature. It is clear that much more could have been made of it as it is unclear whether the elemental characteristics have a bearing on the personality and interrelationships.
The two lead characters are at odds with one another throughout the story. It is unclear from where the animosity stems. Had the main character been the bitch he was when they met, you could understand it; rather he is less trying and tries more. Given this, the relationship, if you can call it that, is there is anticipation only for much of the story. That they are ultimately meant for each other is never questioned by any but themselves. Where sex is used within the plot it is largely used to reinforce the story rather than dominate it.
Notwithstanding the foibles of the lead characters, the story is rich and thoroughly enjoyable throughout. There is sufficient complexity of situational variables to keep the reader’s interest and there is a limited amount of tension to drive the story forward.
At the end of the story all of the storylines are resolved effectively. Of course there is a happily ever after. This is not a complex tale so the reader is not required to remember a catalogue of facts to make sense of what is happening. As such it is largely a fun read with a satisfying ending. There is not real need for a sequel, but there is sufficient richness to the world building to allow for this to happen.