Thursday, January 20, 2011

Aisling Book One: Guardian - Gay Teen Fantasy

by Carole Cummings

Magic. War. Fate. It's Gay YA Fantasy!

Here's the synopsis from Prizm books, the publisher:

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, what he's about, and has been running from Fate for as long as he can remember. When Wil is brought in for questioning as a witness to a brutal murder, and subsequently flees, Dallin is dragged by duty into the chaos of ancient myth, fanatical religion, and the delicate politics of a shaky truce between two perpetually warring countries, all of which seem to hinge on the slender shoulders of the man he knows is not Wilfred Calder.

The eventual capture of Dallin’s quarry only makes matters worse. Wil is prickly and full of rage, rebellious and lethal, and tells an unbelievable tale of magic and betrayal that threatens to rock the carefully cultivated foundations of Dallin's world. Leery and only half-believing, Dallin finds himself questioning not only his own conscience and his half-forgotten past, but the morality and motives of everyone around him, including those who hold the power of his own country’s fate in their hands.

Add your review of "Aisling Book One: Guardian" in comments!


Donna Frano said...

Aisling: The Guardian is the beginning of a marvelous epic story about a fascinating world and the engaging and complex characters, and deities, which populate that world. And the best part is that everyone has the two remaining books in the Aisling story to look forward to this year.

The author doesn't waste our time introducing her world in intricate detail. Instead, she sits us down in the story and allows us to find out, just like Dallin, what the heck is going on and where the heck we are. The world has the flavor of ours, pre-industrial revolution, but there is obviously more going on here that science and logic can explain – there are deities, but, as with all deities, they are rather obscure, vague in their teachings, and pre-occupied, and there is magic, but as with all magic, it can go either way – dark or light. As with everything else in her work, the author doesn't hit you over the head with these things – the religion and the magic are part and parcel of the world. Clearly, we are going to find out more about this fascinating world as the characters and the story reveal it.

But the author's absolute strength is her characterization. The two main characters – Dallin and Wil – are extremely well drawn and very authentic in their interactions with each other, based on the author's representation of their history and experience. The secondary characters are also very strong. I particularly loved the fact that, in this world, it is understood that women can play key roles and still be female. And I adore Wil, of course. One of the author's obvious strengths is the way she can portray a truly tormented character without making him a caricature. Wil is complex – childlike in his reactions to some things, and an old tormented soul in reaction to others. Add to this his skill, learned in the most horrific of circumstances, of playing whatever role will allow him to survive, and Wil is an extremely complex and appealing character. Watching Dallin learn to understand Wil – to understand and trust his own instincts about Wil – is fascinating. And the book ends on the perfect note – Dallin has already extended his support and trust to Wil before he really comprehends the role intended for him by those obscure deities I mentioned before. And so we wait for the next installment.

Bravo! And here's to many more from this author!

Anonymous said...

I just finished reading "Aisling Book One: The Guardian". I won't post a summary because I can't add anything to what Donna Franco said. All I have to say is I want Book Two now!