Anniversary of the Veil: Book One.
By Vanna Smythe.
Princess Issiyanna faces an arranged marriage that is less than pleasing. The priests have chosen her suitor, the king bowing to their wishes like always, but in Issa’s dreams she has another love. Her only hope is to plead with her father and see if he will defer to her own desires just this once.
Kiyarran has always dreamed of being a Protector of the Realm and now he is close to being invited to the Pledging Ceremony. Through his duties as Issa’s guard, he has become friends with the princess, but now as the culmination of his training draws near, Issa begin to withdraw from him. His friendship rebuffed, it is time for Kiyarran to establish whether it is his desire to become a Protector or his unwillingness to lose Issa that is stronger.
Alet and her two Keepers emerge from the Forest of Dead Trees and into the world beyond the Veil: a barrier erected almost a thousand years before to separate the two worlds. They are on a mission to rescue Princess Issiyanna and take her back to their own world, for she is needed for a joining that will reinforce the Veil, and must be obtained at any cost.
Issa is hurt by Kiyarran’s desire to become a Protector. Protectors are cold and ruthless. He would no longer be her friend. As he becomes more distant from her, she seeks comfort elsewhere. The sound of a voice beckons her from outside the castle. Her mother’s voice. Her mother, returned after long years of absence, and Issa has hope of happiness once again.
This novel’s primary strength is in its worldbuilding and the crafting of this world beyond the Veil where priests rule the king and magic is employed in strong and evil ways. There was a lot of exposition here and a lot of detail to bring the world to life but it was handled successfully, planting the groundwork for far more to come in the next instalment of the series.
The characters are easy to relate to and Kiyarran in particular was an interesting lead, so unaware of his true potential and humble in his learnings, and portrayed well, without the superiority and arrogance that can be a danger to male protagonists on a ‘hero’s journey’ in many fantasy books.
The magic system Smythe employs feels unique; perhaps a little complex to understand at first, but once the abilities and constraints of the magic’s disciplines were clarified it became a visual addition to the story that solidified the world. Protector was an enjoyable debut and I will look forward to book two and finding out what waits on the other side of the Veil.