Steve C. Eston, a Canadian technology manager, has self-published his first novella, The Burden of the Protector – a fantasy story with a real world dilemma at its core.
In the province of Ta’Enia, in the realm of Jarum, Dár, a former Knight Protector, at the age of 59 and on the cusp of his 60th year, is taken from his home and re-housed in a small hut. As with many of his peers before, at this age he waits to see what comes next. With time on his hands, he reflects on a discovery, in his 25th year, which changed his life, and the extensive ripple effect of the revelation of this discovery.
The novella moves back and forth between the present, where Dár has decided to write about the events of his younger years – and risk the wrath of the Knight Soldiers and the Emperor of Jarum – and revealing a secret and an injustice he has kept buried, deeply, for over 30 years.
Whilst on patrol, Dár makes a discovery which changes him, irrevocably – but when he returns to the site of this discovery, there is nothing to be found. He seeks out solace in the passing on of the revelation to an outsider, Vír – endorsed by a prominent scholar, Maéva – who is seen as untrustworthy, due to his skin colour and attitude on free thought, in a province ruled by fear.
As Vír questions the greater implications of Dár’s discovery, the ramifications on them both, as well as Maéva, are carefully revealed, as Dár writes his confession and attempts to find a way to smuggle it out to the rest of Jarum.
Eston’s novel is not what I expected, after the first few chapters – what starts out as a fantasy mystery, becomes a tale of aging and the need, in the face of the impending end of life, to unburden and ensure that a lie does not continue to be held as truth.
The Burden of the Protector feels like a tasting plate for a MUCH bigger and extensive feast – with many hints dropped about the larger scope of the story of Jarum, the discovery itself and the other realms.
Support for this self-published novella – available online – will, I hope, lead to a return to Jarum and the revelation of deeper secrets. If you’re a lover of new fantasy fiction, this is the novella for you!
Reviewed by Glen Christie
Rating out of 10: 7
The Burden of the Protector is self-published and available as an eBook for Kindle through Amazon.com.au.