Indie books are often hit-or-miss, but judging by author Vanna Smythe's solid writing, you would never know that Protector falls in this category. Thi...moreIndie books are often hit-or-miss, but judging by author Vanna Smythe's solid writing, you would never know that Protector falls in this category. This first installment in the Anniversary of the Veil series does a great job transporting us into its world and introducing us to the key players. It has great world-building, action, love, magic... what more could you want?
Almost a thousand years ago, the world of Protector was split in two by a magical barrier called the Veil. On the Venerated side of the Veil, people with the Life Force thrive; on the other side, anyone who displays magical inclinations is enslaved by the Priests (descendants of the Righteous). Now, as the Anniversary of the Veil approaches, a sacrifice needs to be made to keep the barrier in place. The descendants of the Venerated are already preparing for the event by gathering the people needed. On the other side of the Veil, most of this knowledge has been lost or kept hidden by the Priests.
Meanwhile, on the Righteous side, Princess Issiyanna is seemingly contacted by her mother who has been dead for years. Her Protector, Kiyarran, a young man showing lots of promise both with weapons and with the Life Force, is struggling to find a balance between his duties and the feelings he has for his charge. When Issa is kidnapped by a group sent from the other side of the Veil, Kae will find out just how far he is willing to go to get her back.
The story is skilfully written, and the characters believable. They all have distinct voices and most of them avoid being one-dimensional. Some fantasy writers have trouble finding balance in their descriptions - some get lost in the details, while others don't tell us enough. This is not a problem for Vanna Smythe, who gives us all the information we need to see the picture she is painting for us without overdoing it. I can think of one particular scene, toward the end of the book, where Kae faces the Pure Ones that felt particularly vivid.
What I enjoyed immensely about the book is the world that Vanna Smythe built. It wasn't easy to figure everything out just based on the Prologue (which was a little overwhelming), but everything came together beautifully by the end. The history of the world is hinted at, with promises of more to come in the rest of the series. The dichotomy between the two sides of the Veil was realistic and fascinating to read about. The Priests made believable power-hungry leaders, but they were balanced out by similar figures on the other side of the Veil. I liked how neither side is completely good - this makes for quality storytelling. My favorite addition to the world though, was the group of assassins known as the Pure Ones; if they're not scary, then I don't know what is. I hope there's more of them in the future.
Now, I only gave this book 8/10 on my blog. I decided to go with 5 stars on Amazon and Goodreads because I am a harsh critic and my complaints were very subjective. Some of that was because there are a few typos, which isn't uncommon for an independent book and is easily ignored in favor of the story. What I enjoyed less, however, and I think I'll be in the minority here, is the love story between Issa and Kae. They're both teenagers and so they have excuses for acting as such, plus it gives them room to grow in the coming books. Think Sansa in A Song of Ice and Fire or Egwene in Wheel of Time. But, for now, I wasn't patient enough to deal with their angst. This is my failing, not the story's, but it detracted a little from my enjoyment of the book as a whole.
Overall, Protector is a great first book in a new fantasy series. It is well written and could have easily been published professionally. Currently priced at $2.99 in the Amazon store, it is a must read of you love a good story.(less)