Friday, December 7, 2012

Review: Guardian of the Balance: Merlin's Descendants #1

Guardian of the Balance: Merlin's Descendants #1
Guardian of the Balance: Merlin's Descendants #1 by Irene Radford

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Please note: I read and reviewed this book in February 2012. I'm adding a disclosure and updating the formatting.

Disclosure: I won a copy of this book from the LibraryThing Early Reviewer's Program. All opinions are my own.

My Synopsis: Telling of the life of Wren, the daughter of Merddyn Emrys (the Merlin of Arthurian fame), this story also recounts details of the gradual take-over of Christianity in the British Isles and the relegation of the traditional religion and worship of the Celtic deities to secrecy. Wren also plays a significant role in the life of Arthur, who is known to her as Curyll. Fostered, as are many of the children that resulted from the traditional Beltane trysts, he grows up strong and smart, but held back by a ferocious stutter. Wren travels in the summer with her father, Merlin, but during the winter they stay with Curyll’s foster family. Through the years, Wren grows into her magic and goes to Avalon, where she becomes a priestess. She communes with faeries and learns mysteries. But the Saxons are converging on the land, and Uther Pendragon is near death, his disease causing damage to all of Britain through his covenant with the Goddess. Will Wren and Merlin be able to keep Uther alive long enough for Arthur to come into his own, as Pendragon in his own right? Will the balance and covenant between Pendragon and Goddess be honored, or will Britain be drowned in the darkness rising from the twin invasions of the Saxons and the followers of the White Christ, all intent on the destruction of the way of balance and Light?

My Thoughts: As far as I can tell, the details of the Celtic/Druidic religion seem to be fairly well researched, which is nice. I found it very difficult to read about the destruction of the belief system of the Druids, as I’ve always been drawn to that particular structure and their pantheon of Goddesses. The fact that the book affected me so strongly is a very good sign – well-written stories will dig into your brain that way. I did find that after a certain amount of time, I would become so angry at the insidious way that the Christians set about destroying the native belief systems, I simply had to stop reading for a time. These are all signs of a well-written book – one that causes strong emotional reactions in the reader. Because this covers a dark time in history in many ways, it is not a light-hearted book, so in that way also it was very difficult for me to read. However, fans of Arthurian legends, the Druids and well-written historical fantasy should enjoy this book.

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