The grand city of Movoc-under-Keeper lies in ruins. The sinister puppet men have revealed their true nature, and their plan to tear down the veil between worlds. To have a chance of defeating them, Tanyana must do the impossible, and return to the world where they were created, on the other side of the veil. Her journey will force her into a terrible choice, and test just how much she is willing to sacrifice for the fate of two worlds.Guardian was an unusual book, more so, I think, than the first two which at least shared a common setting. I'd seen a lot of people compare the Veiled Worlds series to anime aesthetics but I didn't really see the resemblance until Guardian. A large part of the story takes place in a different world with little in common with the world of Movoc-under-Keeper. In some ways that world is more similar to our own — mostly in the way that people don't control pions with their minds to build stuff — but it's a pretty extreme post-apocalyptic type of a world.
While Tanyana is there, we learn a lot about how the two worlds are connected, what the Keeper, the Other and the Veil are (although the latter takes a bit longer to become clear) and the connection between worlds. At the end of Suited there was a cataclysmic disruption that did not leave all the characters we've come to know intact. The ramifications of that are explored further here and, most notably, we find out what was going on with "Halves" having a special connection to the Keeper.
I have to say, I had somewhat mixed feelings about one character who was badly injured and then sort of magically fixed. On the one hand, she agreed to what happened (the being fixed part, not the badly injured part), but on the other, I couldn't help but feel the fix took away a lot of her agency and, crucially, affected her personhood and identity. I would have liked to have seen the consequences of that expired more fully rather than just touched upon in a sort of epilogue.
What makes Guardian hard to review is that it's so different from the first two books in setting. I would like to, at some point, reread all three books in succession to get the full impact of the flow of the story. And in case it isn't already obvious, Guardian is not the point at which to pick up the series. It's definitely the kind of trilogy where you should try to read the first two books first.
I quite enjoyed Guardian and indeed the entire Veiled Worlds trilogy. I highly recommend it to fans of technological fantasy or just fantasy which differs from the mainstream. The worldbuilding is very original and one of the real strengths of the series. The magic is very structured; leading some to call the series science fiction. In that light, fans of slipstream and genre-bending fiction should find much to like here.
4 / 5 stars
Series: Yes! Veiled World book 3 of 3
Format read: Paper
Source: Well, I pre-ordered an ecopy but then picked up the paperback from the TPP stall at WorldCon and (uncharacteristically) ended up reading that while travelling instead of the ebook
Challenges: Australian Women Writers Challenge