Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand

Wounded Guardian The Wounded Guardian (The Dragon Sword Histories: Book One)
by Duncan Lay
Harper Collins

Supplied for review by Harper Collins New Zealand

Reviewed By: Katie Boyle

The main character of this book, Martil, is both interesting and compelling. He is a former war captain who fought in a particularly difficult and unpleasant war, and in ending the war acted evilly. He regrets what he did to the point that it more or less ruined him, and this is a story about him facing the possibility that he can be redeemed.

Another point in favour of the book is that its main secondary character, Karia, is a child of six. There is a singular lack of young children in fantasy literature (even the ubiquitous Harry Potter is ten when the series starts), and it is refreshing to read a book that breaks down that barrier.

There are also a number of points against this book, though. First and foremost, Karia does not ring true as a child of another society. In fact the author creates an extremely accurate picture of a confident and demanding six-year-old—but not one from a more subsistence level economy and a culture with a more basic technology. Likewise, the relationship between Martil and Karia is very much that of a modern (foster) parent and child.

Secondly, the author’s control of point of view is problematic. There is one scene in particular, where a group of people is walking through a tunnel and stops to have a discussion, where there is a series of paragraphs giving the point of view of each character. In other places characters are introduced purely to be killed off, and we learn details of their lives and thought processes that are totally unnecessary. (Tom Clancy does this too. It was interesting when he first started doing it. Not any more.) The sheer number of points of view is, in the end, confusing.

So, the book is both good and not so good. I think if I had paid retail price for it I would have felt let down. As it was, though, this was a fairly enjoyable read because it was a bit different from what I’m used to. Knowing more about it going in, I would like to read the sequel (to be published early in 2010).

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