Rating: 5 stars out of 5
As he pursues a man who is not what he seems, Constable Dallin Brayden learns the lines between enemy and ally, truth and deception, and conscience and obedience are not only blurred, but malleable.
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 or what he’s about, and he’s been running from Fate for as long as he can remember. When Wil flees after witnessing a murder, it’s Dallin’s job to pursue him. Along the way, he’s pulled into a maelstrom of ancient myth, fanatical religion, and the delicate politics of a shaky truce between two perpetually warring countries—all of which rests on the slender shoulders of the man he knows is not Wilfred Calder.
Even Dallin’s success proves a hollow victory. Wil is vengeful, rebellious, and lethal, and his tale of magic and betrayal rocks the carefully constructed foundations of Dallin’s world. Suspicious and only half believing, Dallin must question not only his own integrity and his half-forgotten past, but the morality and motives of everyone around him—including those who hold his own country’s fate in their hands.
I’m going to come out and say I gave this 5 stars despite the ending. Guardian is just that good. The first in Carole Cummings’ Aisling Trilogy, it doesn’t so much end as stop, clearly waiting for the next story to take over. No cliffhanger, just a cessation more or less in the storyline. Argh as they say.
But everything that comes before that ending? Just outstanding! From the incredible world building to the nuanced characters full of anguished pasts and unimaginable pain to a present to comes with a slow buildup of suspense and a flight of terror against faceless enemies, this story is one you cannot put down.
And it starts off so calmly with our introduction to Dallin Brayden, an orphan whose fate is tied up with the man he’s about to meet. All the characters here are densely layered, with revelations about who they are peeled back over the course of the story. Dallin’s character is imminently likable and that only increases the more we get to know him. His own doubts and confusions let us understand him while the innate goodness Cummings has written into his personality makes him an anchor for us to connect with. Then there’s Wil. Oh, my, there are hardly any words for Wil. You must meet him, go along the journey here with him to begin to understand why you will fall in love with him so. And fear for him.
Cummings is building a complex mythology here along with her relationships and cultures. It all works to a stunning detail. I’m so tempted to wait until the last two books are out and read through the entire trilogy to the end. I don’t think I can handle another ending like that. Just too frustrating as this story is that good and I want to know how it ends! You will too. You decide what sort of reader you are. Can you handle a story one book at a time? If so, then pick this up and get started on the Trilogy and a couple you’ll want to meet. If you are someone who wants to know how it will all end, you might want to wait until all three books are out and read them all together. Either way, I’m in line for the next one to come out! This author has me hooked on Aisling!
Cover Artist: Anne Cain. I’m not sure I’m a fan of this cover. It fits in a way, just a matter of taste.