The Protected: Book I of The Spirian Series
Outskirts Press (2010)
Reviewed by Marty Shaw for Reader Views (1/11)
The first book in the Spirian series introduces us to a special group of people that could actually exist. That’s how realistic the author’s creations are. Skye is a woman who is having a very rough time. She lost her husband to cancer, she’s bored with her job, and when we first meet her, she’s in a hospital after being involved in a car accident with some of her friends.
During her stay in the hospital, she’s visited by an old man who heals her injuries. Skye believes he’s a hallucination… until she discovers that the damage done to her leg is no longer as severe as it was. Upon leaving the hospital, Skye decides to do some traveling and ends up in the town of Belfair. Good luck smiles upon her almost immediately and she finds both new friends and a new job. She also meets the one man who can’t seem to stand her, Khalen Dunning. Skye soon finds out exactly why Khalen is so cold around her, and she also learns something completely unexpected – she’s not human.
Skye is a member of a race known as Spirians, not quite human but not quite spirit either. She is welcomed by the local clan of Spirians, although Khalen, also Spirian, seems to still keep his distance from her. Skye could possibly be a figure of legend, and Khalen would play an important role if the legend turns out to be true and he’s not entirely sure he’s ready to take that step yet.
However, Khalen and Skye don’t have too long to figure things out because the Spirians known as The Protected aren’t the only Spirians around. Those who have fallen to greed and anger are known as Shadows, and they have their own plans if Skye is the woman of legend.
Portch blew me away with so many different elements in this story. Skye isn’t the typical heroine. She’s forty-five-years-old and mostly blind, although she can see when there’s enough light. She’s an independent and stubborn woman who has a hard time dealing with some of the Spirian’s laws and tends to find herself in trouble because she chooses not to listen to those around her. Still, she’s a likable character, although her actions might be a little exasperating at times; sort of like having a best friend who is determined to stick her hand in the fire even after you tell her that it will burn. You know it’s a dumb move, but she’s still your friend.
Aside from the Spirians having special powers and long life spans, they’re as human as you and I. They need food, shelter, and companionship. They can choose to do good or evil with their abilities. One of the more intriguing concepts of this book is that good guys aren’t always good and bad guys aren’t always bad. A Protected Spirian can give in to the baser instincts and become a Shadow, but a Shadow can see the error of his ways and work to become a Protected.
While Skye is the primary character, my personal favorites were Shanuk and Case, two older Spirians whose wisdom is just as formidable as their power, and I enjoyed the complexity of Khalen. He has potential to become a great leader if he stops letting the fears of the past hold him back.
While the author doesn’t beat you over the head with any morals or messages, there is an underlying theme within the book. It’s a theme of balance and happiness and doing the right thing for the right reasons, making for a fun and entertaining read without becoming preachy.
If you like fantasy but are tired of romantically challenged vampires or witches and demons with endless power, then “The Protected” offers the perfect balance between reality and fantasy.