The Guardian by J.D. Moyer #BookReview #BlogTour

In the year 2737, Earth is mostly depopulated in the wake of a massive supervolcano, but civilization and culture are preserved in vast orbiting ringstations.

Tem, the nine-year-old son of a ringstation anthropologist and a Happdal bow-hunter, wants nothing more than to become a blacksmith like his uncle Trond. But after a rough patch as the only brown-skinned child in the village, his mother Car-En decides that the family should spend some time on the Stanford ringstation.

Tem gets caught up in the battle against Umana, the tentacle-enhanced Squid Woman , while protecting a secret that could change the course of humanity and civilization.

The Guardian, the sequel to the The Sky Woman, is a story of colliding worlds and the contested repopulation of a wild Earth.

It's my pleasure to be closing the blog tour for The Guardian by J.D. Moyer today. Many thanks to the author, Flame Tree Press and Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me and for my advance copy of the novel.

The Guardian is the second book in J.D. Moyer's Reclaimed Earth series and is set about ten years after The Sky Woman. This is a much longer book in comparison to the first which allows for more developed world-building and a larger cast of characters. I thoroughly enjoyed The Sky Woman but The Guardian is a more satisfying story which extends the Earth and ringstation based settings. It can be read as a standalone but I would recommend reading the series in order to truly appreciate the ongoing story arc.
The villagers who live in Happdal are fascinating because they are the descendants of advanced humanity but in a post-apocalyptic world, have an existence which is more akin to their Viking ancestors than to modern civilisation. In the previous book, one of the ringstation anthropologists, a woman called Car-En met and fell in love with a Happdal villager, Esper but though both feature here, the main character is their young son, Tem. It works well because he is in the unique position of having a claim to belong both in Happdal and on the Standford ringstation but consequently is somewhat of an outsider in both places. On Earth he dreams of becoming a blacksmith like his Farbror (uncle) Trond and has to work hard pumping the bellows but on Stanford he is expected to attend school. He has a maturity beyond that of most children of his age but is still a child and throughout the book he frequently makes decisions which are courageous but potentially foolhardy as he bears some heavy responsibilities, either through his own choices or thanks to others confiding in him. As a result he is an intriguing protagonist who is clearly motivated by his deeply held beliefs and principles but he is also the grandson of the village jarl and there are glimpses of arrogance. There seems to be the potential for him to become power-hungry as he grows older and I'm looking forward to seeing how his character is developed further in future books.
Although much of the action among the sky people is still set on Sandford, we also learn a little more about the other ringstations in the Coalition and the differences between their citizens. While those who live on Sandford are pacifists who prioritise science and learning, those on the Liu Hui are more militaristic and have a phenotype which emphasises height and strength compared to the smaller, lighter people on Sandford. There are also mentions for other ringstations, including Alhazen, Hedonark and perhaps most intriguingly, the Michaelangelo who are described as a former artist's colony which has morphed over time into a society of paranoid isolationists. As the story progresses I was struck by the similarities as much as the differences between the Earth based humans and the sky people. Both experience tensions between the various settlements that make up their communities; Happdal is one of the settlements in the Five Valleys but Svein, jarl of the closest village, Kaldbrek is a dangerous tyrant; meanwhile, Adrian Vanderplotz, Station Director of Advance Station One, a small research station on Earth, more commonly known as Vandercamp is an egotistical megalomaniac who invites a lethal visitor to the station.
The tense rivalries and human dramas are certainly engaging and I particularly liked Lydia, Vandercamp's doctor who was once Car-En's friend and has complicated relationship issues to confront alongside the dangerous situation she finds herself in. Likewise, Shane - the head of head of security is another strong addition to the series and the chapters which feature him are some of the most gripping in the book. However, as pressing as the more relatable human issues may be, the appearance of a tentacle enhanced Squid Woman who has dangerous plans is obviously going to take precedence.
Commander Umana could have been a ridiculous figure but this is a well-crafted novel which continues a plot strand introduced in the first book ensuring that as far-fetched as her appearance may sound, how and why she is like this makes perfect sense, and her inclusion sits perfectly within the wider story about the moral choices behind human evolution and development. The title of the book is interesting too and could refer to a number of characters or themes; Tem is obviously going to continue to play an important role in the future and could become some sort of guardian of the Earth but Umana also has plans to take over guardianship of the planet, planning to preserve and protect it.
Climate change and the environmental cost of human development is obviously a vital issue right now and J.D. Moyer's descriptions of a world which exists far in the future is a thoughtful look at how people may respond to catastrophic events, questioning whether idealistic fantasies about a new population built on compassionate progress could ever be realistic given human nature and the strengths and weaknesses which are handed down through the generations.
The Guardian is exactly what I'm hoping for when I pick up a sci-fi novel - richly descriptive worlds; the scientific elements are advanced and incredible but written in such a way to be plausible and the interesting, generally sympathetic cast of characters are thrust into situations which are exciting and thought-provoking. There is obviously a great deal still to discover here and plenty of conflict ahead so I'm very much looking forward to the next Reclaimed Earth story.

The Guardian is published by Flame Tree Press and can be purchased here.

Don't forget to check out the previous stops on the blog tour, details are below.

About the Author

J.D. Moyer lives in Oakland, California, with his wife, daughter, and mystery-breed dog. He writes science fiction, produces electronic music in two groups (Jondi & Spesh and Momu), runs a record label (Loöq Records), and blogs at His previous occupations include dolphin cognition researcher, martial arts instructor, Renaissance Faire actor, dance music event promoter, and database application developer.
 J.D. has been reading and writing science fiction and fantasy since he was a boy, inspired by authors such as Susan Cooper, Piers Anthony, and Lloyd Alexander. As an adult his favorite authors include William Gibson, Octavia Butler, Iain Banks, Kim Stanley Robinson, Margaret Atwood, and David Mitchell.
 J.D. went to Berkeley High (other alumni include Philip K. Dick and Ursula K. Le Guin) and the University of California at Davis. After graduating, J.D. embarked on a long career as a music producer, DJ, label runner, and event promoter, culminating in world tours and music placement in film, television, and videogames (including Dance Dance Revolution) as well as the international hit “We Are Connected” made famous by John Digweed. After the birth of his daughter, he quit the DJ hustle and returned to his love of fiction writing.
 His short stories have appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Strange Horizons, The InterGalactic Medicine Show, Cosmic Roots And Eldritch Shores, and Compelling Science Fiction. His story “The Icelandic Cure” won the 2016 Omnidawn Fabulist Fiction contest. Recurring themes in his fiction include genetic engineering, the sociological effects of climate change, virtualized consciousness, and evolutionary divergence.
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