I first reviewed Guardian, the first book in the Aisling trilogy by Carole Cummings, in July 2015 as a part of our Throwback Thursday series (the book was then called Aisling). Now the book has been reissued and to save a bit of rehashing, I’m just copying my summary from that review.
Wil Calder was born with a Gift. A Gift that has left him hunted, tortured, and possessed with a desperate desire to be left alone. But both the Brethren and the Guild are after him and they are relentless in their pursuit. After a short respite in the town of Putnam, Wil ends up witnessing a murder. Though he is innocent, Wil knows the killing is merely another the sign that his enemies have found him and he flees.
Constable Dallin Brayden is a well-educated, straightforward man. Dedicated and good at his job, he knows how to unravel a mystery and discover the truth. But Wil Calder is one mystery he can’t seem to solve and he is drawn to the man, both out of duty and something deeper, something he cannot fully understand. Once Dallin captures Wil, they are forced to trust one another in order to survive. But greater forces are at work and both men must accept that their paths are entwined and that they have a shared destiny, which is bigger than either of them can imagine.
I’m a huge Carole Cummings fan and the Aisling series was my introduction to her work. As yet, I’ve not read a book by her that wasn’t stunning in its scope or full of amazing characters. There is nothing simple about Cummings’ novels and the Aisling series in particular. In Guardian we are introduced to the conflicts of religious fanaticism, magic, and godly intervention in the ordinary world. And poor Wil is at the center of it all. On the surface he’s an ordinary man pursued because of powers beyond his control. Some want to kill him and others want to manipulate him. The only one who wants to protect him is Dallin and theirs is a bond that does not form easily. Wil has too long been abused to believe that anyone could possibly mean him anything other than harm. And Dallin is struggling to understand and embrace a destiny he doesn’t want. In the end, both me have to place their faith in one another and Guardian epically depicts this journey.
The world building, at least of the physical plain in which Wil and Dallin live, is sufficient though not particularly detailed. In the Dream world though, Cummings perfectly captures the ethereal, chaotic, and enigmatic state that is both real and imagined all at once. Often the action that takes place in the Dream world is confusing and jumbled, but I think this intentional and it works well to demonstrate both Wil and Dallin’s own confusion.
Guardian and the subsequent novels of the trilogy are not for the faint of heart. They are complex and layered and at times maddening in their confusion. Patience untangles it all and the reward is an amazing story of survival and devotion between two men who have been chosen to save the world. This second edition of Guardian is not dramatically different than its first save that the writing seemed slightly crisper and cleaner. This may well have been my imagination, but regardless if you enjoy an intricately woven fantasy that makes you think, then consider Guardian strongly recommended.
A review copy of this book was provided by DSP Publications.