Abednego: Book 1 of the Guardians Series by Devanye Hansen is a mythical adventure through forbidden love and the unseen world around us.
The fascinating world of Abednego centers on the drama of the Pegasi, Fae, Guardians, Hunters and keepers engaged in an otherworldly power struggle. This novel is an ambitious and exhilarating ride through a fantastic new realm, replete with action, romance, mind reading, betrayal, suspense, and a fair dose of humor. The depth and complexity of the story is impressive, and the author, Devanye Hansen, has an obvious talent for world building within her deep well of creativity.
Samantha Trent, an American soldier, is saved from certain death by a mysterious winged Pegasus, who claims that she is destined to be his mate. Sam finds that she has traded imprisonment as a soldier for an unpredictable role in a mythical “love story” that is set to unfold.
There are countless elements of surrealism and pure fantasy throughout the story, and even a few tongue-in-cheek allusions to Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, for that is basically where Sam has found herself. She has been welcomed into the inconceivable universe of Horse Lords and faeries, Wyr and Nephilim, and is desperately trying to find out why she is so important to these magical creatures, and what is actually expected of her.
The idea of being someone’s “keeper” based on knowing their true name is an intriguing crux of the story, and is largely the foundation of Sam and Abednego’s relationship. However, the potential lovers are separated for much of the first half of the book, and Sam becomes a pawn in a much larger game of the Hunters, Panthyrs and Guardians – a different type of prisoner in the “cold war” that has been raging between these magical races for centuries. When they are finally reunited, the strangely destined relationship between Sam and Abednego begins to take shape – with amusing and unexpected consequences.
There are a few issues with the flow of the book, namely the excessive exposition on the history of the magical world. While most of this is done through dialogue between Sam and various supporting characters, it is clearly meant to give readers a more complete picture of this literary universe. However, by deluging readers with so many characters, histories, legends and stories, the purpose and main line of the novel often gets lost. The plot doesn’t progress very quickly, and it seems quite convoluted, in addition to lacking a clear conflict that needs to be resolved. At certain points, the book reads like a romantic comedy in a mythological context; readers keep waiting for a satisfying plot twist that never comes.
The possible mating between a human “keeper” and a Horse Lord is certainly an interesting premise, but it doesn’t justify an entire novel, nor this expansively detailed world. The author could have focused on the plot being more exciting and dynamic, rather than meticulously designing and describing the history of the magical world and the backstory of its inhabitants.
The writing itself is simple and straightforward, with concise descriptions and an engaging tone, making it accessible to a broad range of readers. Furthermore, now that the exposition for the setting is out of the way, the stage is set for an expansive and entertaining series.
The ending isn’t exactly a cliffhanger, but it does leave plenty of questions unanswered, and the characters of Sam and Abednego are too interesting to abandon after a single book. Most of all, the author’s constant supply of creativity makes the next book in the series worth waiting for.
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