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3.16  ·  Rating details ·  287 Ratings  ·  37 Reviews
In the late nineteenth century, a seemingly ordinary woman embarks on an extraordinary adventure in the Alaskan gold fields--after her destiny is revealed to her by something not of this world.
Paperback, 304 pages
Published July 27th 2004 by Ace (first published 2002)
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(showing 1-30)
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Bonnye Reed
Aug 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
GNAb I received a free electronic copy of this excellent SF novel from Netgalley, Joe Haldeman, and Open Road Integrated Media in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, for sharing your work with me.

This novel originally published in 2002. Thank you, Open Road, for bringing it back around. My 40 year old daughter read it back in the day, but I managed to miss it. It is a book I am pleased to have found, however late.

Written in the first person of Ms. Rosa Coleman who, at 90 in a world we re
I’ve been sitting on this book for a while. I finished it almost a month ago unsure of how to review it, not even sure of my rating. It was definitely not what I was expecting, and I wasn’t sure if it was something I was happy having read. I eventually settled, after stewing on it for a while, on having enjoyed it. It was a.. soft book to me. Something subtle and cleverly sneaky in how it wraps around you. It’s about a woman’s journey to a momentary experience and less of how it affected her. W ...more
This review is for the ebook edition from Open Road Media, scheduled for release on September 27, 2016.

I'll be the first to admit that I'm not an analytical reader. When I read, I read for pleasure. I'm looking for a good story with relatable characters. I want adventures and romance and wonderful flights of fancy. Guardian got off to a slow start but, by the time I finished the last chapter, all of those boxes were checked for me.

Rosa, whose story this is, is an intelligent, independent woman
Aug 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not sure what I was expecting, but it wasn't this! Part historical fiction, part adventure, and part... other. (view spoiler)

This is the story of Rosa Coleman, a woman whose journeying takes her farther from her Georgia upbringing than she could ever have imagined, told some years later along with some comments from her future self to the narration, which adds a sl
Elizabeth M
Aug 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Best book I have read in a long time
Jun 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Not his best, but he writes period pieces well. And the alternate worlds theory is always fun to explore, especially the way it is done here.
Jan 28, 2017 rated it liked it
In the early 20th c., a woman and her son escape her abusive husband and travel across the US in search of a safe place far enough away that he can’t find them. Eventually, they head to Alaska during the gold rush there. At crucial moments, a raven appears and seems to intervene to protect them. This story, which seems like a fairly interesting and compelling historical fiction with some beautiful depictions of early American landscapes and just a touch of mysticism, takes up the first three-qua ...more
Peter Tillman
Jul 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
This interestingly-offbeat sort-of-SF novel starts off as a late 19th century memoir, 'as written by' the protag-lady circa 1952. Rosa Coleman moves to Kansas to escape an abusive husband, then moves on to Alaska when the brute find out she's in Dodge City -- a town Haldeman picked, no doubt, with malice aforethought. The 'memoir' is well-researched and pretty good, but has no special sfnal frisson until Rosa is led on a galactic fantasy-tour by an Alien Guardian disguised as a Tlingit Raven sha ...more
Nov 15, 2016 rated it it was ok
For the most part, the novel’s pacing was inconsistent, there were moments where the pacing was very fast, and others where many moments were skipped. While this could be due to the transcribing of a diary (in which one would document in detail times of action and struggle), it was difficult to adapt to. Additionally, after the big climax of the novel, which I will not spoil for you, the rest of the story was terribly boring in comparison (not to mention the ending wrapped up very quickly afterw ...more
Nov 21, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition

Publisher: Open Road

Publishing Date: October 2016 (2002)

ISBN: 9781504039598

Genre: Historical Fiction / SciFi?

Rating: 1.7/5

Publishers Description: Sent from her Georgia home to Philadelphia to escape the carnage of the Civil War, Rosa Coleman studied astronomy and mathematics, ultimately settling into a new life as the wife of a wealthy man and mother of young Daniel. But when she discovers an unforgiveable secret about her reprobate husband, Rosa takes the
Clark Hallman
Sep 02, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Guardian is a very interesting and unusual book by Haldeman. It covers the life of a women and her son as recorded in her journal. Therefore, Haldeman uses a first-person viewpoint from the woman, and at least in my opinion he does a very good job. It is an unusual story that begins when her abusive husband sexually abuses her son and she takes him from Philadelphia in 1899 and begins a flight the leads her across the country and eventually into the gold fields of Alaska. Along the way she i ...more
May 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
I love Joe Haldeman's books and have read quite a few already. I really liked this book. You are taken on a journey through late nineteenth century America from Philadelphia to Skagway in Alaska. A lot of research must have gone into this book. I'm no history expert but it felt genuinely convincing. A lot of references to writers and other books are made that inspire me to read more. There is a part that is very strange and to my mind does not really fit the book but is somehow also necessary. I ...more
Tim Hicks
Jul 01, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-fiction
I really don't know what to say about this odd book. A hundred and sixty pages in, in a 231-page book, it's still a historical travelogue, or if you prefer, setting the scene. We get a few hints from occasional appearances of a raven that can talk a little. Then, at last, we leap into a story that's half sci-fi and half Carlos Castaneda. As if Haldeman didn't know where to go with his story, so he took some mushrooms to get some ideas. Didn't work for me. But I was never much for the (view spoil ...more
laurel [suspected bibliophile]
2.5 stars. Possibly less.

"Science fiction" is used lightly in this one. It's an old lady's travel memoirs about running away from her awful husband, with her son. I was intrigued about her adventures in Kansas and Alaska (a woman gold miner in Alaska! Spirit travels with Raven!) but what excitement I had quickly petered out.

There's a lot of boat trips. So many boat trips. Lots of missionaries (the church people not the sex position) and school teaching. Lots of showing vs telling. Theoreticall
Feb 19, 2016 rated it it was ok
Um, uh, I wanted to like it. I wouldn't know how else to write it - remember the role of the critic and the role of the creator.

That said, by the definition of the star ratings this one deserves a two. The concept was fantastic, and the elements of 1800s US society, technological change, American Indians, travel, escape, and alternate universes are some of my favorites.

The issue is with the pace and the point. Like a cheap potentiometer, all the action is in the last 20%. I found it weighty to
Freddie Silva
Dec 09, 2013 rated it it was ok
Joe Haldeman has an easy to read writing style. His prose is so good it looks simple, but such writing is hard to duplicate. This story in particular was not hard to read, but hard to get into. The expectation from a Haldeman book is science fiction but this is mostly historical fiction with a fantastical ending. I think I would have probably liked this better if it was a straight historical fiction piece. The speculative ending just seemed like an add-on. It felt like this book was an experimen ...more
Holly Weiss
Jul 03, 2011 rated it it was ok
Part HF part sci fi. Well-written female heroine. **spoiler** Abused wife leaves husband in 1800’s with her 14 year old son and starts a new life in Alaska. The last 3rd of the book came out of the blue – the raven that continually appeared to her saying “no gold” transforms into an eagle and “Guardian,” undoing the death of her son in a gunfight. She marries Doc. They move back to Midwest. Their son, Gordon wins the Noble Prize, therefore she “saves the world.” Very odd ending. Enjoyed reading ...more
Sadie Forsythe
Man, I was really enjoying that for a good 75% of it. I was wondering where the supposed science fiction was, since it hadn't materialized yet, but I was enjoying the narrator's slow, personal account of her travails. And then it all fell apart.

About 3/4 of the way through the unthinkable happens in the plot, and the pace picks up significantly, the tone changes, the science fiction makes a sudden appearance and departure and the book is wound to a very quick and less than satisfying ending.

Sep 24, 2013 rated it liked it
This was more philosophical and fantastic than other books I've read of Haldeman's. I very much enjoyed it. My one problem with this one, and it seems to be a consistency through his work I'm discovering, is he has a grand idea, great characters and settings and all the environs needed to pull a reader in. However, it always takes a little too long to get to the grand idea, and it never feels completely fleshed out or there seems to be an incompleteness somehow. It's minor, and I plan to keep re ...more
Sep 07, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a shelf of books that, counter to most popular fiction, offer nonviolent solutions to their plots.

Joe Haldeman has often dealt with issues of war and peace--perhaps he is best known for his novel "The Forever War". In "Guardian" he tells the story of a woman who is treated brutally, makes a long and remarkable journey, and becomes instrumental in preventing nuclear war.
Mar 09, 2013 rated it liked it
This book is 2/3's historical drama and 1/3 first contact science fiction. Although the historical part is not in-depth, it is a very interesting look at the life of people after the turn of the century. Although I picked the book up because of the author and the fact that it was Science Fiction, I found that I enjoyed the historical part more and was somewhat disappointed when it switched gears. In addition, the book had some nice discussions about religion and life.
Aug 06, 2012 rated it liked it
The ride through Rosa Coleman's life in the late nineteenth/early twentieth century was enjoyable and interesting, but it was not at all what I was expecting from this book. Rosa is definitely a memorable character.

The book is classified as science fiction in most arenas, but I believe it is historical fiction with a dollop of fantasy thrown in. There is no science fiction (especially the science part) to be found.
Feb 15, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: picks, sci-fi, 2009-read
I couldn't get my hands on Forever War, so I read this one instead. It was a quick enjoyable read, and I really cared about what happened to the female lead. (I just started Marsbound - turns out that Haldeman writes great female characters.)

The story went "weird" about 3/4 through, but I still enjoyed it. It reminded me of some of Stephen King's strange spiritual endings. The build-up to it was great and made it believable for me.
Marimar Son
May 30, 2016 rated it liked it
"The only reliable thing that can say about one's future is that it will not turn out the way you planned it. People have no interest in your future pass through your life and change it forever."
- Rosa Coleman

God gave us the capacity to doubt as the ultimate test of our faith. If God sent you a sign then believing would be easy. It's not supposed to be easy.
-Rosa Coleman

Do the wrong thing and pay for it.
- Gordon

This book brought me to the other world, first sci-fi that I have read.
Joe Slavinsky
Jan 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
An unusual story, which is familiar to Joe Haldeman's fans. I really like the story, the characters, and the blend of history, and metaphysics. Fascinating story, about a woman, born before the Civil War, and her somewhat alien experience with space & time. It's a moving story, which you should check out for yourself.
Jeanne Boyarsky
Oct 06, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
This was a great story about traversing the country in the gold rush era days. I spent most of the book wondering where the sci fi was. Then it showed up - crammed in - towards the end. It did tie together well, but I felt like the styles were so different for the different pieces. And if I wasn't interested in the gold rush part, I wouldn't have gotten to the sci fi part.
Jan 12, 2010 rated it it was ok
Gold-rush era piece, with the protagonist being a woman (unusual for Haldeman) struggling to keep her family safe despite some gruesome situations. She's aided by a bizarre supernatural force, that's a bit more deus-ex-machina than I'd expected. Clever, but it wasn't anything thrilling.
Timothy Boyd
Jul 19, 2014 rated it liked it
A nice quick easy reading SiFi book. This was the least favorite of mine from this writer. While the story slowed well and was interesting the SiFi aspect of the story was almost non existent till the very end. Still a good Haldeman read. Recommended
C.I. DeMann
Jan 06, 2014 rated it it was ok
This book annoyed me. It was a good story, but it was NOT science fiction. It was historical fiction with just the tiniest bit of sci fi thrown in at the end for no obvious reason. So why not be honest and sell it as a historical fic? Why deceive the reader? Annoying.
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Mansfield Public ...: Guardian Review by Mike Hettinger 1 2 Jul 27, 2013 10:51AM  
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Brother of Jack C. Haldeman II

Haldeman is the author of 20 novels and five collections. The Forever War won the Nebula, Hugo and Ditmar Awards for best science fiction novel in 1975. Other notable titles include Camouflage, The Accidental Time Machine and Marsbound as well as the short works "Graves," "Tricentennial" and "The Hemingway Hoax." Starbound is scheduled for a January release. SFWA pres
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