The Named (Guardians of Time, Book 1), by Marianne Curley

Marianne Curley is an Australian, case and the Guardians of Time trilogy is her second, visit web third, and fourth published works. Incidentally, the trilogy was picked up on an option a few years ago, but they never did make a movie out of it. Anyway, she hasn’t published any novels since then, due to illness, but according to her website she’s doing much better and we should expect more books out of her in the future. Based on this one, I’m looking forward to them.

The Named is told from the alternating points of view of Ethan and Isabel; Ethan is sixteen and Isabel fifteen. In their world, there is an organization of people called The Guard who are, as you might guess, the Guardians of Time. Those who are in the Guard have different abilities, such as healing, teleportation, longevitiy, and mind-reading. They are to keep history where it belongs, fighting against the Order of Chaos. Ethan is a special kind of Guard: he is Named, which means he shows up in a prophecy. So does Isabel, who is Ethan’s Apprentice. Her older brother used to be Ethan’s best friend, until a girl drove them apart. (Yeah, high school.) Anyway, Ethan and Isabel have certain tasks they must do in order to ready her for her initiation, but unfortunately there is something out there that is messing things up more than usual, and they must unite with diverse people to stop it.

The story is in first person, and in present tense. This is a combination I’m not exceptionally fond of, but it’s very effective for getting the teenaged point of view across. The pacing is well-done; there was a good combination of action and respite. None of the school or travel scenes went on very long, and none of the fighting became gratuitous. There was also a good balance between the various subplots; there was enough romance to make things interesting, but not so much that a stereotypical boy reader would be find it ‘mushy’.

As a story, though, it hits a lot of the right notes: danger, revenge, star-crossed lovers, time-travel, destiny, and sword-fighting. Ethan and Isabel are fun narrators. While Ethan is a fairly typical teenage boy (other than the telekinesis), Isabel is a butt-kicking tomboy. The scenes where he is attempting to give her instruction in things like fencing and martial arts are funny.

There’s a full cast of minor characters, including Jimmy, Isabel’s mother’s boyfriend, and Arkanian, the violet-eyed semi-immortal. Ethan’s parents are some of the more heartfelt: his sister was killed when he was four, and neither has quite recovered in many ways. His mother suffers from severe bouts of depression, and his father has withdrawn from the world in many ways. Ethan’s mother’s description of her mental state was probably the saddest moment in the book, but it read as authentic.

While the dialogue has a bit of the “As you know, Bob” feeling and the story elements, on their own, lacked originality, overall the book was a worthy first entry in a trilogy. I look forward to reading books 2 and 3. 4/5 stars.

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