The Priestess, the Protector by J. Andrew Jansen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
If you're looking for a great fantasy read that's appropriate for young and old alike, this is it. I had the pleasure of watching this story unfold as it was written, and fell in love from page one.
Mirian is a young priestess who's trying hard to please her goddess and mentors in the temple where she lives. She's content with her life of prayer, blood-letting, and healing. But, one day, she is sent on an urgent mission to heal a noble in a town some distance away. Her adoptive father, Priest Neijen, gives her a super-secret package that must only be opened in case of emergency. Little does Mirian know that its contents, and this journey, will forever change the course of her life and the world she knows.
After a terrifying event (which I won't tell about you because you have to read it for yourself), she runs into a drifter named Jerok. Despite being rather shifty, he's handsome, charming, and helpful enough that Mirian has no other choice than to let him come to her aid.
Determined to complete her mission no matter what, Mirian and Jerok continue toward the town and the sick noble. It's during their journey together that they meet the elf Llaewyn and the dwarf Traunick. And these two know something about Mirian that no one could have guessed.
From the start, this story hooked me, but it was the characters who kept me reading. Poor Mirian at first is so naive and stubborn, having known only life in her temple and the small town she grew up in. She learns a lot along the way and grows into a strong heroine. Jerok has his own demons to battle while trying to protect Mirian. And the supporting characters of Llaewyn, who I can only describe as a lovable a&&&hole, and Traunick the fatherly dwarf, are a perfect odd couple in their own right.
Their stories and paths all intertwine to form a thick thread that leads to a much bigger conflict. And there's a nice element of romance between Mirian and Jerok that I, of course, just loved. It's a great first novel that I'd recommend to fantasy lovers of all ages. Give it a try!
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