❮Read❯ ➯ Sword of the Guardian: A Legend of Ithyria Author Merry Shannon – Dolove.info
This is a very nice fusion of a classic fantasy story with a lovely romance.It had all of the battles, intrigue, innocence and magic you would expect from a story written by David Eddings or Raymond E Feist, and rather like these books, this is a light and escapist piece of fiction.The story has for me an unapologetic lesbian romance at it centre, which is allowed to evolve and grow throughout the story Even through the characters might be inherently cliches, the writing drives the story onwards.The author has created a world that, for this genre, has both interest and obviously much to come. This was one of two books I purchased when I decided I wanted to give Bold Strokes Books f f fiction a shot Sword of the Guardian was my first choice when I read that it starred a princess and her cross dressing guardian, I knew I had to have it It was a surprise to me that I enjoyed Jane Fletcher s Rangers at Roadsend as much as I did, and I fully expected to enjoy Shannon s Sword of the Guardian even Unfortunately, Sword of the Guardian turned out to be a disappointment.My biggest problem with this book was that I could not believe in the world and its characters Little things kept throwing me out of the story For example, only a small number of people knew Talon s gender, and King Soltran specifically chose Talon to be Shasta s guardian because he felt he wouldn t have to worry about her virtue if she was being guarded by a woman It was common knowledge that Talon even slept in Shasta s room, and Talon and Shasta sometimes went off, alone and unescorted, to practice fencing together I would have expected than just the King to be concerned with Shasta s virtue, and yet no one in court ever commented about the impropriety of a man spending so much unescorted time with the princess, even after Shasta began publicly flirting with Talon.Lots of other things bugged me in this book When Talon unwrapped her breasts, she had to accustom her brain to the sudden rush of oxygen 44 there was no mention of relief from the discomfort of having her breasts squashed into invisibility At another point, Talon and Shasta kissed, not long after Shasta threw up Shasta tasted of tea and a lingering hint of wine 113 no mention of vomit I couldn t figure out whether homosexual relationships were accepted in this world or not Talon s reaction indicated that maybe they weren t, but, when Bria found out about Talon and Shasta s relationship, she shrugged off her shock extremely quickly and was soon saying well, as long as you re happy By the way, absolutely no one who knew Talon s real gender made any mention of concerns about how Shasta was supposed to produce an heir if she and Talon remained a couple Shannon wrapped this up neatly in the end a little too neatly for my liking , but I had that question going through my head from the moment Talon and Shasta became a couple I couldn t understand why not one person wondered what Shasta planned to do Also, characters occasionally said things that, to my mind, would have fit better in a contemporary set novel, rather than in a novel set in a pseudo historical past yes, this is a fantasy story, and characters can technically speak however the author wishes them to speak, but those moments just added to the list of things that threw me out of the story.For much of the beginning of the book, I figured that Talon knew she was a lesbian or perhaps bisexual and was comfortable with this I think I got that impression from the way she easily flirted with female audience members during acrobatic performances I was surprised and confused when Talon started wondering whether it was even possible for one woman to be attracted to another.I m still not sure whether this book is better defined as a lesbian romance or as a transgender romance When Shasta finally learns that Talon is female and sees her unclothed, she marvels at how beautiful she is Just about everything in the book, however, seemed geared towards making Talon seem as masculine as possible She didn t just say things she growled them She fought better and learned fighting techniques and strategy faster than any other man around In my head, Talon was either a man who was ludicrously masculine, or a woman trying too hard to be a man.I didn t really like or dislike Talon, but Shasta came across as a spoiled brat throughout most of the book I suppose her concern for her whipping boy and the woman she witnessed get beaten to death was meant to make me decide she wasn t all that bad, but it didn t work If injustices weren t happening right before her eyes, she didn t seem to think of them Instead of avoiding doing things that would get her whipping boy hurt, she did them anyway and then gave him treats afterward to make it all better When she got upset with Talon, she rode off in a snit, knowing that there were people around who might want to kill her As a result, she almost got herself killed, and Talon was seriously wounded.When Shasta found out Talon s true gender, she felt betrayed that was understandable, but what was not was her thought that Talon should be executed for treason She knew that Talon had only been following the King s orders Thinking that Talon should be executed for that, just because she didn t like the results and was upset that the man she d fallen for was actually a woman was justwow, I feel enraged even thinking about it now Later on in the book, she suddenly morphed into a mature, wise leader who convinced farmers to part with their entire crop, offering them nothing than an IOU she couldn t guarantee she d be able to pay, but whatever It didn t matter All I could ever see her as was a selfish little girl who never seemed to understand how much danger she, and by association Talon, was in.Bria was a moron, somehow thinking that an aristocrat would find her, a nobody, to be a worthy wife than Princess Shasta Lyris seemed to only exist as a convenient way to tie the Ithyrian priestesses firmly into the story, so that they could swoop in when needed and save everyone with the Super Convenient Power of the Goddess You know, except for the moment when it s decided that it s important for Talon to fight her battle on her own, lest the Power of the Goddess remove all suspense from the story and end things too soon.I should also mention Erinda She was one of the reasons why this book wasn t able to work for me as a romance Prior to Shasta and Talon becoming a couple, Talon had lots of no strings attached sex with Erinda In fact, it was spotting Talon having sex with Erinda that inspired Shasta s crush on Talon I was never quite comfortable with this, even though Talon and Erinda s relationship ended before Talon and Shasta became a couple.All in all, this book was not nearly as good as I had hoped it would be Shannon has one other work published through Bold Strokes Book, Branded Ann, a pirate romance that sounds like it could be a lot of fun However, I don t see myself taking another chance with this author at the prices that Bold Strokes Books charges.Other Comments The e book version of Sword of the Guardian had some confusing formatting For example, some of the chapters began with stuff from the perspective of one of the Ithyrian priestesses Then, with no visual cues whatsoever, the story switched back to third person, following the actions of Talon and Shasta It was a little jarring Original review, with read alikes and watch alikes, posted on A Library Girl s Familiar Diversions. A Shocking Assassination Creates An Unconventional Bond Between A Princess And Her Guardian In A Kingdom Filled With Political Intrigue, Danger And Unexpected RomancePrincess Shasta Soltranis Enjoys A Pampered Life Of Court Dances, Elaborate Finery, And The Occasional Secret Fencing Match With Her Twin Brother, Daric But In The Midst Of A Birthday Celebration, Her World Shatters When A Mysterious Assassin Takes Her Brother S Life Shasta, The Only Remaining Heir To The Throne, Narrowly Escapes The Assassin S Blade Thanks To The Intervention Of A Traveling Acrobat Named TalonWith The Threat Of Another Attempt On Shasta S Life Imminent, Her Father Declares That The Young Hero Will Be Come The Princess S Bodyguard But What Shasta Doesn T Know Is That Her New Guardian Has A Very Well Kept Secret He Is Actually A SheTalon And Shasta Soon Grow Closer Than Anyone, Especially Her Father, Could Have Predicted Will The Truth Of Her Guardian S Secret Change Their Relationship Forever Book Of The Legends Of Ithyria Series 4.5 stars The romance was well done I thought I like how it was years in the making The plot line was good but seemed to resolve a little too simply for my taste The whole wait, we have this cool celestial fire that kills all the bad guys but not the good guys at just the right moment was too easy But overall, I enjoyed it and had trouble putting it down. This was a really solid, entertaining story We are introduced to Talon, an orphaned acrobat masquerading as a man and looking out for her two sisters Because in an act of heroism she saves Princess Shasta, she is assigned as her royal bodyguard.This tales takes place over approximately four years and, in it, we see Princess Shasta mature from a naive, petulant teenager to a strong, wise young woman The first 2 3rds of the book are the day to day exchanges between Talon and Shasta Talon essentially remains the same, noble character throughout the story where the really interesting character development occurs with the princess and Talon s sisters The story is detailed and drawn out in a way where we really know all of the characters and how they feel about each other over the years There is no rush into romance so that s where the long, slow burn comes in The last third of the book is where pacing picks up due to the huge conflicts and battle scenes and the romance finally reaches resolution, hence the bonfire.I ve seen this described as fantasy but it felt like a historical, medieval type novel with very little fantasy There weren t strange creatures and it didn t feel otherworldly In the last quarter of the book we see fantasy elements come into play.Also, I would say this is of a pan sexual love story instead of a lesbian romance Where Talon is attracted to the same sex I didn t get a feeling that a lesbian relationship would ever even occur to Princess Shasta She falls in love with Talon thinking she is a man and basically lets her love override the gender, accepting Talon for who she is completely.One note of warning, there are rape triggers in this novel so if you re sensitive to that please be prepared or perhaps look to another book.There was some predictability in the book for me but there were plenty of surprises and the story was unraveled in an engaging way, regardless Overall, the author did a great job telling this story and I recommend reading it. So, I enjoyed this one but I didn t love it The world building was relatively good and the lead characters were fairly well established, but their growth felt somewhat simplistic to me, especially in the case of Shasta and Bria Both characters started with one personality and ended up with another, but I never fully believed the transformation for either of them Shasta spent literally 67% of the book responding to nearly every situation with a tantrum that placed other people in danger, then suddenly she s a magnanimous, empathetic, giving person Such changes have happened to people, even in fantasy novels, but I never saw enough to convince me that it was anything but a mandated plot device here Bria s case was even worse, and far sudden view spoiler She went from being a manipulative traitor to a lost soul in search of redemption in the blink of an eye, and it happened entirely behind the scenes without even a hint of how she got there aside from a tiny bit of very sudden exposition hide spoiler Ahahahahahaha, this book was ridiculous It was this lesbian fantasy novel SO OF COURSE I ENJOYED THE SHIT OUT OF IT Bordered on some trans stuff, interestingly enough Would happily read any and all sequels to this story I mean, this wasn t magnificent in terms of writing or plot, but WHATEVS I LIKED IT, OKAY DEAL. Thank god this book is finished There were several times I just wanted to stop, but since I d read over half, it felt like a waste of effort to give up.Sword of the Guardian has all the ingredients to make an interesting story I love the whole girl pretending to be a boy so she can play soldier setup, but was disappointed on the whole Halfway through, it felt like the book would soon be coming to the end Maybe it should have.My problem mainly lies with the characters and their development I m left feeling like most of them were either static or a stereotype Talon, while the most enjoyable character in the book, is static The girl we meet at the beginning, is the girl we see at the end Shasta is the one character which the author insists develops so much, but I felt like I was being told that she evolved, rather than that I saw that she was It is not for the author s lack of trying She does show it, but it never quite gels with me Maybe because the huge turning point is only ever shown in a flashback My main problem with Shasta is that by the time the author tries to turn her character around, I already disliked her She s just too childish at the start of the book Especially the way she dealt with her crush on Talon when she still believed her to be a boy, had me wanting to throttle her It was supposed to be funny, but it just came across as annoying Then there s her reaction to finding out Talon s a girl, and I liked her even less.I get what the author is doing, I see the steps she s taking to redeem her from these traits, but somehow it just isn t working It s all there, but I never truly care for it It doesn t help that the mysterious character change is also the instant realisation that she liked girls It just feels forced Add a bunch of clich s and cheesy dialogue that is supposed to show us how wonderful Shasta now is, and I was ready for this book to be over now.The plot of the story is in itself okay, but fairly predictable The bad guys are stereotypes and bring nothing new The romance feels forced and I admit, I had pedobear squicks in there The author insisted on describing Shasta as tiny and so adding her childish behaviour and Talon s intention to treat her as a little sister and it wasn t really a romance that spoke to me.Nice try, but this book falls short in every way. First of all I have to say that I like the book I think it is solidly written The medieval fantasy world is quite detailed and entrancing I like the characters and I think it is a sweet love story However, I have a small problem with this book Yes there are the inconsistencies other reviewers have already mentioned Talon being a girl was supposed to protect the princess virtue, but as this is a secret, it really doesn t being just one of them , nevertheless this is not so much what bothers me What is the major theme of the book Very obviously it is the battle between good and evil This is supported by the Priestesses and the visions It is further supported by the princess seeming to have backbone than her father, so the Goddess wants her to succeed.Now let us see what is bad about this medieval world, meaning what is the darkness the light wants to relinquish We have endentured servitude, slavery, poverty, unscrupulous royalty, outlaws in the forest and some kind of tattooed, stinking, hairy, giant Barbarians, who are somehow worshipping the Godess antithesis Ulrike.I have a little problem with these Barbarians I don t like their depiction I do understand that it is something that is done in fantasy, to enhance the contrast between dark and light like in Lord of the Rings the Elves and the Orcs But here we had enough evil, we didn t need some foreign dehumanized Barbarians It smacks too much of the fear of the stranger, of narrowminded racism, of religious crusade.We also have very rigid male dominated gender roles Why else would a mother think her girl child safer as a boy We have racism It is mentioned that people would not easily accept the dark skinned outlander as their king We obviously have not a very open mindset when it comes to homosexuality or transsexuality The King mentions that Talon needs to be executed because she dresses as a boy in the beginning Talon herself, her sisters as well as the princess struggle with the concept of two women loving each other.And here it comes I have the feeling that these things should also be included in the struggle of enlightenment Especially if we consider that the cross dressing and the love story is a major plot point But they are only solved on a small personal, even secret level In the end they stay in the closet, so to say.It s strange, but that disappointed me somehow.Yet again, there is another book in this series Let s see if I ll get my answers there. My favorite type of book to read is a really good world built f f fantasy book And this is exactly what you get with Sword of the Guardian This has turned out to be one of my favorites ever just behind the series of Dragonoak, Arravan Nightshade , and When Women Were Warriors While being slightly better then the fun series, The Chronicles of Arianthem If you enjoy these types of books, do not hesitate to read this You won t be disappointed I m looking forward to reading the next book in this series Due to it s title, Prayer of the Handmaiden, I have a guess which characters from SOTG might be in it I m looking forward to spending time with these characters and in their world.