Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Book Review: Guardian of the Vision by Irene Radford

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Title: Guardian of the Vision
Author: Irene Radford
Publisher: Daw
Series Order: Merlin's Descendants Book 3
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)
Now in paperback, the third novel in Irene Radford's acclaimed saga follows Merlin's descendants to Elizabethan England-where royal rivalries are complicated by the unexpected arrival of magic, witches...and the Demon of Chaos.

Overall Rating: 3/5

This is a story mainly about Griffin, though it does switch viewpoints. He is a descendant of Merlin and is studying to be the next Pendragon, a person who looks over the well-being of Britain. However, he goes against his family's wishes and goes away from his home to become a Catholic priest. When Elizabeth I takes the throne and Mary Stuart makes plans to take the English throne for herself, Griffin sees that he must reconcile his beliefs of faith and his need to stop Tryblith, the Demon of Chaos, who wants to start war in Britain.

The main complaint I have with this book is that it relies heavily on stereotypes. There is nothing exciting or surprising about the characters. Griffin is a devoted priest who worries constantly about being damned, Roanna is the seductress harboring (and being tricked by) a demon, the old characters are generally wise, the high-ranking characters are generally manipulative and power-hungry. It is all black and white with these characters, which I didn't especially like. There were also times in the plot where things happen just a little too conveniently. It was ridiculously easy for Roanna to work her way up to become the adviser of high-ranking nobles, as it was for Griffin to find Queen Elizabeth I's illegitimate child. (She put a note in her own hand by her son's birthing record. I'm so sure a queen intent on hiding a child would slip up like that.) In short, there were some serious believability issues.

Despite that, I actually did enjoy reading this story. It was surprisingly easy to follow, even though it's the third in the series and I haven't read the other two. It easily could have been a stand-alone. And I like Radford's take on the Merlin story. The history is well-researched and so well integrated with the mythology, that I felt like I was reading a long-established myth instead of Radford's version of the Merlin/King Arthur story. There is a good deal of action and intrigue and I was kept interested in the story, even if I felt annoyed by the writing style. I think fans of fantasy and especially of Arthurian legends will enjoy Guardian of the Vision.

*I received a free copy of this book from LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program in exchange for an honest review.*