While I love fantasy, in theory, I am often disappointed by this genre because the story becomes bogged down by details. When one is building a whole world then this is an easy mistake to make.
Merry Shannon doesn’t fall into that trap. The characters and storyline are first priority, yet she manages to create an interesting and complex world that forms the background of this tale.
The story is about Shasta and Talon. Talon and her two younger sisters are part of a performing troupe. The troupe is hired as part of the celebrations to mark the birthday of the royal twins, Shasta and her brother. An assassin tries to kill the twins and Talon manages to save the princess.
The world is a brutal place for orphans and Talon has to pretend to be a boy in order to protect her sisters. This causes a surprise for the priestess who tends to Talons wounds and she tells the king. The king concocts a scheme to protect his daughter and only remaining heir. He offers Talon the position as the princess’s guardian. This is the perfect arrangement; Talon can sleep in the princess’s chambers and ensure that she is always protected without threatening her virtue.
Only a handful of people know that Talon is a woman and even Shasta is under the impression that Talon is a man.
This is the setup to a really well-rounded love story set to the backdrop of a religious and civil war.
There are a number of side characters, including a charming chambermaid, valiant soldiers and priestesses.
All the characters are well written, important to the story and nicely fulfilled in the end.
The Writing Style
Shannon keeps a good pace while having enough detail to fill in the world. The world she created was interesting and well thought out.
I really enjoyed this book. Everything worked well. It is also a nice long read. This is great for those of us who tear through books in no time and enjoy spending more time with the characters.
The first paragraph put me off, it was overly complicated in terms of language. Push past it and settle in for a great ride.
Well worth it. This is a great book.
Want something that will fill the gap left when Xena ended? Then get this book.
It is a great read with loads of action, romance and kick-ass women.
Excerpt from Sword Of The Guardian by Merry Shannon
That scream wiped out every other thought for Talon, whose eyes had never left the dark figure. She caught a second flash, and with the intuition born of a lifetime of brutal training, she knew where the next knife was headed…towards the two girls who had been dancing at the far side of the room. Towards Lyris!
With a cry, she leaped from her spot at the wall, planted her feet on a nearby bench and catapulted herself into the air. She shoved Lyris in the small of her back and pushed the Princess to the ground, then landed hard in front of them. At the same instant that her knees buckled with the impact, she was aware of an explosion of pain in her abdomen. Her hand came up instinctively, and when she pulled it away her palm was slick with blood. She did not bother to ponder this but regained her balance, frantically seeking out her sister’s face.
The pain in her abdomen increased when she tried to straighten and she found herself strangely dizzy. Looking down, she was stunned to see the hilt of the assassin’s knife sprouting unnaturally from her stomach, above the left hipbone. She must have caught it with her own body in her attempt to save her sister. Again she sought out Lyris, but a pair of warm golden eyes arrested hers. Princess Shasta’s disbelieving stare was the last thing Talon saw before her vision clouded and she lost consciousness.
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Publisher: Bold Strokes Books