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Guardian Of The Freedom : (Merlin's Descendents #5) (Merlin's Descendants) by Irene  Radford
Review by Dave Goldfeder
DAW Hardcover Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 075640178X
Date: 05 April, 2005 List Price $24.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Normally, it is a difficult task to join up with a series in book 5. Ms. Radford avoids that problem. I haven?t read any of her other books. The only relevant information is what I?ve relayed above and that is ably transmitted. The book's problems lie elsewhere. I?m probably not the target demographic. I picked up the book expecting an alternate history based on fantasy. What I got is a book that kept trying to be a gothic romance. Ms. Radford has created this alternate universe that appears to be exactly like our own. You can cue up metaphysical questions about trees falling in forests but in Ms. Radfords?s alternate universe, the same people cause the same events that happen in our own history.

The book spans the period between the early 1760?s to the early 1770?s. The backdrop is the worsening relationship between England and the American colonies. The principal protagonist is Georgina Kirkwood, the Pendragon?s sister. She fled her brother?s house when a teenager to avoid a forced marriage. She travels the continent and disguises herself as a man, George Kirkwood, to join a mercenary regiment. After being wounded in battle, she returns home to take a greater role in the Pendragon Society. She is sent to America by the Crown to investigate the deteriorating American situation. While in America she meets most of the Founding Fathers.

There is quite a bit of conspiracy theory in the book. Significant parts of the book talk about secret societies. The Pendragon Society is one that works to maintain England?s security. Georgina Kirkwood is a Mason and there is a lot of discussion of the difference between Grand Rite Masonic Lodges and Scottish Rite Lodges. There is also mention of the Secret Lodge above the Masons that works to keep order in the world. Some people enjoy this type of story, I don?t.

There are other things about this book that I didn?t care for. The book suffers from sitcom syndrome. Ostensibly intelligent characters continuously do stupid things. If there is a simple, logical, commonsense solution to a situation like discussing a problem, it will be ignored in favor of baroque stratagems to keep other people in the dark. There are large jumps in time at odd places in the story. Two chapters may be the lead up to an event that the protagonists are trying to prevent. The next chapter is set a year later after the event has happened. My biggest complaint is this; the Pendragon Society is England?s guardian against magical threats. The only magical threat in the book comes from a member of the Pendragon Society.

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