This is the third book of the science fiction series “The Ancient Guardians” and – in a good way – it’s more of the same compared to the two earlier books. But this book has a few things going for itself.
It was a hell of a ride – quite literally for Tony and metaphorically for me because Tony is not only a semi-insane traveller and writer but has a very decent sense of humour, never shy to make a joke on his own expense. Meanwhile, I’ve read every single book he has published and I ended up liking all of them!
Why? Because we’re all a bit of Tony: He’s clumsy, does daft things during his travels, and has the most surreal accidents (a bear ate his pants…) I’ve ever read about. Tony being a nice guy, though, whom you wish to succeed: you hope for him when he meets his sister’s best friend, Roo, and likes her a lot, you cheer for him when they become a couple and you would have liked to congratulate them on their wedding day. And even if you’re Superman and, thus, Tony’s opposite, you can’t help but feel for him when he semi-fails again.
So, when Tony informed us about his writing a) a science fiction book, b) doing it to show his sister he can, and c) doing it in spite of never having written anything but his travel memoirs, I was sceptical. “Earth Warden” had a cheesy cover and a nice-enough but somewhat flimsy story – and yet it held promise.
“Warden’s Folly: A Sci Fi Adventure”, the second volume, still featured the same kind of cover art but the protagonists were developing, the story grew in a good way and I actually really enjoyed it – despite not reading science fiction at all. In fact, I liked this book so much I asked Tony when the next volume, this book, would finally be published – and, just as I had hoped, Tony answered pretty quickly because he is a nice guy and very approachable.
I was not disappointed in this book: The story is pretty simple – Earth has been abandoned by its former inhabitants in favour of us – humanity as we know it. The Lantians (the (mostly) good guys) and the Lemurians (the (mostly) bad guys), said former inhabitants, were warring against each other and decided they both had to leave Earth to prevent its destruction. The Lantians founded the paramilitary order of the “Wardens” and from its ranks installed an Earth Warden to guard Earth.
For a long time everything’s fine but, of course, things eventually go south and Warden Lord Anakreon (Kreon), his friends Kyra and Blas need to pick up Tristan (Tris), Tony’s alter ego, up from Earth to follow into his father’s – Mikelatz, another famous Warden – footsteps and save the universe from the antagonists, especially the Black Ships whom we don’t really know (yet).
All of this is nothing out of the ordinary; what makes it special is Tony’s trademark tongue-in-cheek humour, the “classic” science fiction feeling that we know from stuff like “Star Wars” and his basic good-naturedness that resonates throughout the entire book and, actually, the series so far.
I do have one small gripe with this book specifically: It’s somewhat gorier than its predecessors and mostly needlessly so. I do get that Tris sometimes uses humour (““Rest in pieces,” he murmured.”) to deflect and mask his true feelings in front of his friends but the solution to tricking an iris scanner is rather tasteless. Some humour just falls flat for me but your mileage may vary, of course.
All in all, I recommend “The Ancient Guardians” to anyone who has read at least one of Tony’s travel book because if you like his style of writing and the hilarious stories in those, chances are good you’ll like his science fiction stuff as well.
If you’ve never heard of Tony, start with the afore-mentioned “Kamikaze Kangaroos” – my daughter enjoyed it so much, Tony & Roo, that her entire class at school got to learn about your adventures!