As the title implies, Irene Radford’s five book series follows the lives of Merlin’s descendants. The series can best be described as historical fiction with a fantasy twist. The stories take place during that fragile time when the British Isles are religiously, politically, and socially split. They reflect the turmoil and the good that change can bring. The lengthy amount of research that Radford did on the historical characters, dates, and events clearly shows. Fiction and history are so well balanced that one does not realize they are brushing up on those forgotten history lessons.
The first in the series follows the lives of the Merlin and his daughter, Arylwren, and the lives which intercept with theirs, including those of Uther Pendragon and King Arthur. Guardian of the Balance has been compared to Morte d’Arthur and the Mists of Avalon as an excellent read for Arthurian lore, to which I have to agree. Radford brings a fresh look to the old tales of how Arthur became king and his famed sword, Excaliber. How did the Pendragon and the Merlin become such and at what cost?
In Guardian of the Trust political and religious unrest threatens thirteenth century England. To save King John and their country from Chaos’ grasp, the Pendragon and the Merlin use their powers (magical and mundane) and help from their friends, including Robin Locksley.
The war between good and evil continues into Queen Elizabeth’s reign in Guardian of the Vision. When Griffin renounces his claim to the family legacy to become a priest, his brother is forced to take up the reins. But without magic, one cannot become the Pendragon. With power comes responsibility and the choice of how to use it, if at all.
In Guardian of the Promise, the Kirkenwood family is divided by duties, love, and magic. Added to the mix of political and religious strife, is the battle between blood and passion. What makes one a man or human?
Guardian of the Freedom brings Georgie to the New World during colonial times. Portrayed is the power of the people in shaping their own rights and freedoms as citizens and people.
Like brightly colored ribbons around a maypole, characters and themes weave their way through the stories. Characters are named after their predecessors, which helps the reader remember who is who through the centuries of storyline. Change, power, duty, destiny, choices, faith, promises, and balance flow through the series in different shades. It is interesting to see the shift of religion in the British Isles, from Paganism to Catholicism and later the war between Protestants and Catholics. I should also note that the series doesn’t necessarily need to be read in order. If any were to be read together it would be Vision and Promise because of how they are connected.
If I had to pick a favorite from the series, it would be Guardian of the Balance, due more to content than anything. The other four are very close on it’s tail. I had many long reading sessions that lasted into the wee hours of the morning as I read “just one more chapter”. Since I first caught wind of it several years ago, I had been wanting to read this particular series by Irene Radford, who also writes under the pen name of P.R. Frost. Due to circumstances it happened later than sooner, but it was well worth the wait.
- “Circles have no beginning and no end, and neither does a promise.”
- “Sometimes a straight road leads away from the true path.”
- “Every time you interact with another life, you alter it no matter your intentions.”
- “Power without control was a temper tantrum.”
- “Some men will never seek the future when past glories, that exist only in their own minds, seem more attractive. Some men will never compromise.”
- “Men will always look for someone to persecute. Those who look different, live different, or believe different. So long as they are different.”