Title: The Guardian’s Balance
Author: Scott Schroeder
Review: The opening to the Guardian’s Balance was good we meet Kain who is a Hunter of the Order were which basically means he is a highly trained killer. A hunters job is to hunt and destroy all manner of fantastical creature for example mermaids, fae and creatures known as Lich. Kain recently had a run in with a Lich leaving him not only with scars but some supernatural abilities he keeps hidden. When Kain meets the Huntsmaster Erik by personal invitation he knows something serious is happening. He is told of mysterious things happening in the New World and that a sin-eater was sent out as a scout and return catatonic and near insane which is why Kain is being sent out to investigate further.This opening chapter was really difficult for me to read and confusing as well. It reads more like a second book in a series would read. We are introduced to the Order, mystical beings like Lich and are given little or no description of them or what they are capable of, it is like the author expects us to know these things. Another issue I had was we are given no background on the society all we know is that the story is set in 1591 AD and little else making us the reader work extremely hard to understand what should be basic information.
Before leaving for his journey Kain visits his dwarf friend Grist for some new weaponry in secret as the dwarves elders don’t like their kind mixing with humans. He learns that several dwarf expeditions have gone to the New World and never returned making the journey more intriguing for Kain. We also meet the adorable Tink who was adopted by Grist and Tink wants to help Kain and gives him a special pebble like object which will allow Tink to know if Kain is in trouble. We then change location to the mysterious Croatoa Island in the New World. Its here we meet Cro who has been keeping the balance between everything man made and everything natural. When things fall out of balance Cro puts things back to their natural state. Cro also seems out of sorts after a strange encounter with a human I believe to be the traumatized sin eater. Cro is also unlike the fae that surround her as she is a construct of primal nature. Cro is a Guardian of nature keeping the balance but since her encounter with the human she has been experiencing emotions she never has before like feeling joy at taking human lives.
As we approach the 1/4 mark in the novel we rejoin Kain upon the HMS Horizon as he travels to the New World. After weeks aboard the ship boredom seems to be setting in hard for Kain. Upon exploring the ship Kain finds there no rodents which isn’t odd as Kain recognises this as a sign of Prey being aboard. Kain’s instincts were right as there is an elder Vampyre named Heather aboard who makes a deal with Kain, she won’t kill any humans if he leaves her be which he agrees to. Boo; a fae soon realized that her Guardian Cro has lost her path and the fae begin to rise against her. We also see some of the poodle and native men inhabit the New World that is under Cro’s guardianship and how they are dealing with the disappearances and deaths of their man and how they are trying to unravel these mysteries. During his voyage Kain forms an unlikely bond with Heather and he begins to question the ways of the Order because the Order would demand Heather’s death based upon her species, and yet Heather had done no harm even when it would be extremely easy for her to do so. Heather helps Kain understand his new abilities, it turns out that Kain wasn’t infected by a normal Lich but by a Vampyre Lich which makes him a completely unique and undocumented creature that not even an ancient being like Heather can completely understand.
As we cross the 1/4 mark in the novel we see Kain and Heather band together for their mutual comfort but their extensive dialogue shows us that there may be more than one dark force at work here and the mission Kain finds himself on may be more dangerous than he originally thought. I found almost all the mythical characters we are introduced to very well thought out and they all had extremely distinct personalities which I thoroughly enjoyed. As Cro`s power grows darker her form changes to reflect this as she sets about purging her land of humans, Wander and Boo now seems to be among a small few willing to stand against her.
As we approach the half way mark in the novel Grist and Tink go to the Huntsmaster as they fear for Kain’s life and after Tink talks to William the insane sin eater they soon realize that they must also journey to the New World in order to protect their friend. Kain and Heather also approach their destination although Kain is played by nightmares with the Vampyre Lich that gave him his scars. This being speaks like it still lives despite Kain determination to believe he destroyed it but he can feel the connection between usually as a seating pain in his damaged eye.
As we cross into the second half of the novel we see Boo and Wander get closer through their pain caused by Cro although neither have any idea what brought on the sickness within her. It is also around this point we see some new players enter this strange game of cat and mouse bringing into play true dark forces. We see Heather and Kain continue to work together in the New World looking for the source of evil and while they encounter smaller demons and fae there seems to be no sign of Cro.
As we approach the 3/4 mark in the novel we see the majority of our characters converge in the New World most have the intention of talking to Kain should he return. I loved the humourous moments in this novel especially between Grist and Tink and the reactions of James and Wesley to the mythical creatures like fae, dwarves and whatever Tink is. When Kain returns he is happy and shocked to see his friend among other mythical beings together they share their information and come up with a plan to stop the Guardian and Heather seems to be the key.
As we cross into the final section of the novel we see the group of human and non-human alike prepare to face the hardest battle and foes any of them has ever faced before. I really like the fact that the characters out side their own prejudices and ideas in favour of a unified peace and the greater good and was an amazing plot device written in by the author after beautifully crafting so many uniquely different characters. As they group cross into the Guardian’s land they are given a final helping hand by Linda before heading into battle. While the group work well together I was wondering whether the merger 7 asking with Tink and Nobad would be enough to stop the corrupting darkness spreading throughout the land.
As we move into the final section of the novel we see the group fighting on despite their exhaustion and the limits on their power. While Cro hasn’t made an appearance in this battle yet I have a feeling she will at some point. The final battle was amazing and despite being a huge disadvantage and having to make some rather large sacrifices the group comes out quite ok.
Overall I loved this book despite its slow start, it has an amazing and diverse range of characters that really worked well together in a range of trying challenges. I highly recommend this book to fantasy and mythical lovers and it really deserved its rating.
This book was sent to me for review consideration by Culican Review Services
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