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Guardian of the Vision: Merlin's Descendents #3
Irene Radford
DAW Books, 538 pages

Art: Gordon Crabb
Guardian of the Vision: Merlin's Descendents #3
Irene Radford
Irene Radford was born and still lives in Oregon with husband and son. She received a B.A. in history from Lewis and Clark College, where she met her husband. In her spare time, she enjoys lacemaking and is a longtime member of an international guild.

Irene Radford Website
ISFDB Bibliography

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Cindy Lynn Speer

Guardian of the Vision is the latest instalment of the story of the descendents of Merlin and NimuŽ and their battle for the powers of the Pendragon continues in Elizabethan England. Twins Griffin and Donovan Kirkwood were once as close as their looks. The main difference is that Griffin has inherited the magic that is needed to claim the title of Pendragon, which also means that he will become the Baron of Kirkwood after his father's death. He and Donovan study magic under their grandmother, Raven, but no amount of teaching can help Donovan tap into the potential he is sure rests inside of him. One evening, during an attack on the men who recently raided their lands, Griffin has a vision. This vision convinces him that he must become a Catholic Priest, and serve the Lord, and the Pendragon cause, that way. His decision causes a huge rift between him and his family. Donovan eventually inherits the title of Baron, and, just seconds before Griffin's return, the ring of the Pendragon. His resentment of his twin makes him refuse to give Griffin the ring. Griffin feels he cannot work the magic in his blood without being damned. With the ring, he would have gotten a dispensation to work magic, but without it he would be considered a heretic.

I thought that the Elizabethan setting was extremely well done. Irene Radford uses historical details well to draw a wonderful picture of the times. I particularly like how she mixes the research with her characters, such as when Griffin has a vision of Queen Marie leading a line of men to be hanged, and placing nooses around each neck, including her own. Anyone with an interest in Elizabethan History would appreciate the significance of that vision. I also thought that she was wise in not using the over-flowery language of the time too heavily. Mostly, the characters speak as modern people, which, since the setting around them is so accurate, works fine. She carefully pushes aside the real life characters to make room for her own, and the magical elements only really touch them. This makes sense, and creates the illusion that perhaps not all the truths are listed in the history books, and if you read a little closer perhaps you would discover Griffin's name in the text. The Arthurian elements are added lightly, and even contrasted against the realism of the historical parts, it blends in and makes sense.

The characters are very interesting. They are not always sympathetic, but are all firmly people of their era and position. Griffin is always a priest, (even when he does not act like one) his religious convictions colouring his actions and his perceptions. As with all the other elements, the religious parts are well researched, the fight between magic (which is forbidden by most Christians) and Godliness makes for interesting reading. One frustration while reading this book is the lack of communication that these people have. If Griffin took a moment and told at least his twin of the vision he had, then perhaps some of the animosity and arguments could have been avoided. As it is, they bicker and argue through out a goodly portion of Guardian of the Vision. I felt that the things that the anger between the twins accomplishes could have been done in other ways.

For the most part, this third book in the Merlin's Descendents series is very strong, and stands well alone. It would probably be helpful to read the two other books in the series, Guardian of the Balance and Guardian of the Trust for then you would know the rules of this world better, since Radford doesn't really carry them over to this book. My enjoyment of the story might have been more if I understood the relationship between Merlin and NimuŽ (according to Radford) and how the power came to become a thing to be passed down through the generations.

Copyright © 2002 Cindy Lynn Speer

Cindy Lynn Speer loves books so much that she's designed most of her life around them, both as a librarian and a writer. Her books aren't due out anywhere soon, but she's trying. You can find her site at

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