Thursday 25 October 2018

Book Review: Guardian of Ajalon

by Jeanette O'Hagan @JeanetteOHagan

The Book

Guardian of Ajalon is the third and final book in the Poison Tree Path Chronicles.

The poison tree path is Shara’s road home. . .if she and her companions can survive the journey. In the danger and darkness of the forest, the only respite she finds is in the story unlocked in the Old Tongue book. In this vivid world, Shara finally discovers what she has longed for all her life: the key to the secrets of her past. Yet time is running out for Shara—and all of Tirragyl—as Lord Lucian, King Alexor, and the royal army attack the Guardian Grotto to claim the powerful Guardian Rock.
Publisher: Enclave (September 11, 2018)
Available in print and e-book.

The Author

Joan Campbell is the author of Encounters: Life Changing Moments with Jesus, a collection of short stories, reflections, and prayers. She lives in Johannesburg, South Africa, with her husband, two daughters, and their Labrador, Tabeal, named after one of the characters in her novel.

My Thoughts

Guardian of Ajalon is a fresh epic fantasy with strong allegorical elements. Campbell intertwines the different stories of Shara, Nicco, and Queen Nyla as their different journeys and actions fasten toward a riveting final battle.  All three draw from the Old Tongue book and it's story of he fabled Kingdom of Ajalon and its Prince ‘Eshua and are assisted by the Goldbreast, Talbeal. 

As the story progressed, the biblical allegory of the poison tree path, of the King Ab'El, his son Prince 'Eshua and the Goldbreast become clear. I was fascinated by nature of the two different kingdoms (fabled Ajalon versus troubled Tirragyl), the time-shift or split between them, the death curse and the poison tree path. It is a fresh and powerful way of representing the biblical story. It reminded me of the Narnia stories (especially the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and the Last Battle) and also of Paul Gallico's The Man Who Was Magic. Descriptions of Ajalon and of Ab'El and especially 'Eshua and the Goldbreast are beautiful and the poison tree is an apt analogy.

I hadn't read the first two books, but, except for one or two minor points, I was easily able to understand what was happening and why. The book is full of action, set-backs, danger, desperate situations, and twists, as Shara finds her true identity and Nicco, Nyla and their companions fight to save the Guardian Grotto and Tirragyl. This is not a two dimensional allegory, but a full blooded story with rounded characters, suspense and intrigue. I was moved by Campbell's compelling portrayals of God's love, even the broken and the erring, and the cost of that love.

Of course, now I need to read the first two books (which I understand are less strongly allegorical.)

Overall, a fresh and interesting Christian epic fantasy with strong allegorical tones.

Jeanette started spinning tales in the world of Nardva at the age of eight or nine. She enjoys writing secondary world fiction, poetry, blogging and editing. Her Nardvan stories span continents, time and cultures. They involve a mixture of courtly intrigue, adventure, romance and/or shapeshifters and magic users. She has published numerous short stories, poems, two novellas and her debut novel, Akrad's Children and Ruhanna's Flight and other stories.

Her latest release, Stone of the Sea, is currently on preorder for 31 October release.

Jeanette has practised medicine, studied communication, history, theology and a Master of Arts (Writing). She loves reading, painting, travel, catching up for coffee with friends, pondering the meaning of life. She lives in Brisbane with her husband and children.

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  1. I am always intrigued by authors of fantasy. Such work involved in creating new worlds! Glad you reviewed it Jenny, having an understanding of where the author's coming from.

    1. Thanks, Rita. I admire writers of historical novels - getting all those details right. I can invent my own, but then I have to remember what I invented lol. Joan Campbell does an excellent job in her world-building.

  2. Hi Jeanette. I've recently read the first book in the series. I really enjoyed it and am keen to read the next two. Glad to hear the third one is good!

    1. Hi Sally, I should read the first two. It would be interesting to see how the stories are first woven together and to learn more about the characters.


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