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Guardians of the Desert (Book 2: Children of the Desert) by Leona Wisoker
Cover Artist: Aaron Miller
Review by Colleen Cahill
Mercury Retrograde Press  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781936427024
Date: 01 March 2011 / Show Official Info /

When the second book in a series comes out, especially one I enjoyed a lot, I take up the book with mixed feelings. Will it live up to the first book or will I end up disappointed? In a few cases, such as in book two of Children of the Desert from Leona Wisoker, I not only enjoyed Guardians of the Desert, but it was full of surprises. What a good combination of the unexpected and excitement; who could ask for more?

The end of Secrets of the Sands left the three main protagonists dealing the earth-shaking change. Lord Cafad Scratha is now bound to his family fortress and will no longer wander the land seeking revenge for the massacre of his family (not to say he has given up on revenge, just that he is not roaming any more). His servant Idisio rose far from being a street thief with the discovery that he is Ha'ra'ha, a person who is part human and part ha'reye, mysterious beings of great power. In the desert world, he is now a being of power and status. Alyea Peysimun has perhaps gone through the biggest change, as she passed the tests to become a Desert Lord and is just beginning to see what enormous effect this is having on her life.

To help them adjust to their new abilities and responsibilities, Deiq of Stass, also a ha'ra'ha, will be protecting and guiding both Alyea and Idisio for the next year, although Deiq definitely seems to be focusing on Alyea. This might be because a new Desert Lord not only deals with alterations to their physical and mental abilities, but there are huge political issues, especially when Alyea declares she will not join a Southern family but remain a Peysimun. A new family will definitely put ripples in the Southern power pool.

Alyea's ignorance of Desert culture lands her in several bad situations, not the least of which is traveling with the very dark and dangerous Desert Lord Evkit. While she does not trust Deiq, Alyea does realize she needs his help, even when Evkit tries to tell her the Ha'ra'ha will just use her. She wonders if she made the right decision to stay with Deiq after they finally arrive in Bright Bay: now Alyea faces the challenges her new status brings to her relationship with her mother and her King, as she is now head of her household and a peer to Oruen. All the while, Alyea finds the advice she is getting from Deiq disturbing and even disgusting, causing more trust issues between the pair.

As you might guess from the above description, the focus of much of this book is on Alyea, and since he cannot leave his fortress, Scratha is not present in this book much. Sadly, Idisio is also mostly on the fringe of the story, but this leaves the author room to introduce new view points, mainly that of Deiq. A good move, as this Ha'ra'ha is the oldest of his kind and perhaps the most knowledgeable of human and ha'reye cultures. Not that Deiq is all powerful or wise; we learn that ha'reye and Ha'ra'ha need humans for more than just their breeding abilities and Deiq has been resisting this need as it causes pain to his partners. This has weakened the Ha'ra'ha so much that when faced with challenges from both sides of his heritage, he is not always able to just shrug them off. It seems Deiq is also going through some changes and as Lady Azni puts it "He is changing, and that in itself is astonishing. And a bit dangerous."

Perhaps unexpectedly, there are some answers to mysteries in the first volume of this series, as more is revealed of both Desert culture and the ha'reye, as well as some hints of a conspiracy that involves the North. One of the best things about this story is its balance, with evil and good being shown in both cultures. Even the Northern priests, so dark in the first book, present another side in this work.

You must read the first book to have any real understanding of the second volume, but this should be no hardship; I have read both twice and plan to read them again when the third book comes out. For its complexity, intriguing story, and (as in the first volume) for its characters I find totally fascinating, I heartily recommend Guardians of the Desert.

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