When Prince Leo’s devious cousin seizes control of Singara, Leo is forced to escape into enemy territory until he can return and claim the throne. Trapped among his enemies, Leo discovers they know a lot more about him than he knows about himself. With some guidance from unlikely allies, Leo is poised to fulfill a destiny greater than he ever imagined.
Can Leo harness his power, stop a war, and prevent a monstrous demon from escaping and destroying the world? In the second book of the Pride Wars series, Leo’s identity as a Spinner—once thought to be his greatest curse—may just become his greatest weapon.
When Leo flees Singara, he goes into enemy territory and learns about the neighboring Maguar tribe. The Four Guardians mixes fierce battles with scenes where Leo learns more about being a Spinner. With the help of a Maguar ally, Leo learns that he is a Shakyahs—a Spinner who is able to bring Jins to this world. While Leo hopes that the Maguar’s Shakyah, the Twelver, will help him stop the war, it soon becomes apparent that the Twelver’s one true desire is revenge.
Leo’s quadron joins him on his quest and are dedicated to keeping Leo safe, even if that means death. Once they make it to enemy territory, two spiritual guides help Leo understand what it means to be a Spinner. Unlike The Spinner Prince, the second book digs deeper into understanding the Maguar god, Alayah. The story highlights the importance of faith, and readers will recognize areas that are similar to the Bible. As one character says, “Yet faith is the most basic thing there is. Faith is the crying of a cub for its mother. Faith is one candle in overwhelming darkness. Faith is the light of Alayah in every living thing. Every breath, and every step we take, is an act of faith.”
The Four Guardians battles are fierce and may frighten some readers. The Maguar Shakyah, the Twelver, only has one true desire, which is to kill the demon Hasatamara. However, this desire has made the Twelver a truly evil enemy who is willing to bring death to anyone who opposes her. Unlike the Twelver, Leo’s journey is based on the desire to save lives and bring both tribes together. That is why Alayah praises Leo for showing “humility, bravery, and compassion, even toward your enemies.”
The action-packed sequel, The Four Guardians, allows the reader to step into an imaginative world that has clear villains. While the story has some surprises, the long explanations of Spinners and Alayah slow down the plot. In the fight against good and evil, Leo is an imperfect character who relies on his friends to guide him. Readers will enjoy the relationship between Leo and his friends and celebrate their wins. The complicated plot, large cast of characters, and spiritual content make The Four Guardians better suited for strong readers. The Four Guardians doesn’t resolve any conflicts, but leaves room for another sequel.
- Leo and a group of his friends travel into enemy territory. When they arrive, “The Maguar rushes Anjali with astonishing speed. He guides his spear to the edge of Anjali’s throat. The tip is made of sharpened flint… The Maguar spits at her feet.” The Maguar takes them captive.
- Anjali makes a deal with the Maguar leader, who wants to kill all of them. She says, “I have a deal for you. If one of you can defeat me in combat—no weapons, no claws—you can feed three of us to your slaycons, except him [Leo]. You will take him to your high command.”
- Anjali fights a Maguar. They get into combat position and “with blinding swiftness, she [Anjali] fires a double strike: a blow beneath his ribs with her fist and a simultaneous uppercut to his chin with her left. Then she sweeps one of his legs, sending the stunned Maguar sprawling to the ground… In less than three seconds, the Maguar is a heap of striped fur on the ground.” The two continue the fight for two pages. The Maguar wins the fight when “the Maguar catches her on the shoulder with a double kick, knocking her off balance… She crashes to the ground with a yowl. Knowing the danger she’s in, Anjali rolls away, but not before the enemy drives a devastating kick to the side of her head. Anjali flops to the ground and doesn’t move.”
- After the fight, Anjali jumps up and “tackles the leader [Kaw]… Anjali thrust a fist at his head, pounding his muzzle into the earth. She follows up relentlessly, thumping Kaw again and again and again until he goes limp.”
- When Leo and his friends are taken to a village, an archer fires. “The arrow punctures Zoya’s ear, pinning it to the tree. She winces but makes no complaint.”
- When a Singa looks Mandar in the eye, “the elder strikes Mandar in the face, raking his muzzle with extended claws. Mandar yowls and crumples to the ground.”
- Leo and his friends are offered a squirrel for a meal. “Zoya bites the head and half the body from the squirrel…” Singas don’t usually eat rodents.
- The village leader wants Leo to trust a Maguar named Wajid. The leader “removes the bone dagger strapped to his chest. Before I know what has happened, Abba swipes my hand and then Wajid’s hand… pressing my stinging palm into Wajid’s.” Mixing blood will bond the two.
- As Leo and his group are traveling, they are attacked by slaycons. Anjali’s “first and second arrows find two slaycons behind their foreleg, penetrating their hearts and killing them instantly… One beast, punctured with three arrows, floats away in water tinted with its own blood.” During the fight, “Stick’s face is sprayed with slaycon blood. His cry of complaint is drowned out by the wail of the wounded beast. It spins for a bite at Wajid as we roll by, but Wajid swings his weapon and chops off the slaycon’s lower jaw.” Stick is bitten in the leg, but the others are uninjured. The slaycon attack is described over seven pages.
- When Mandar reports to Tamir, Tamir wants to keep Mandar’s secret from being told. Tamir’s daughter “draws a blade and strikes the unarmed Mandar… Dead. Tamir steps over Mandar’s fallen body. Amara sheaths her blade and follows.”
- When Abdu finds Leo and his group in a temple, he goes to hit Wajid, but a Jin stops him. The Jin’s “moves are unnaturally quick, flashes of silver and white in the dim firelight. She grabs Abdu’s attacking arm and redirects his motion until he is off balance. In a blink, she steps behind the big Paladin and sweeps his legs, sending him crashing to the floor.” The Jin changed from the form of a squirrel to a lion until all of the attackers are defeated. The fight is described over two pages.
- When Tula, who is a Jin, begins to shift, he “must be destroyed before the transformation is complete.” Two other Jins attack and “pounce on their fellow Jin. The battle is brutal and swift… Kaitan finishes Tula off by stomping on his skull with a sickening crunch of bone.”
- When the Paladins try to bind Leo and his group, a Jin “rises up in Leo form and throws a surprised Paladin away. She does the same to one after another, throwing, flipping, knocking them to the ground… In seconds, eight Paladins are sprawled out on the grass, gasping and confused.”
- Wajid and the other Paladin lift Leo, and “they dangle me over the edge of the tower… The two Paladins pitch me over the edge of the tower.” One of the Jin transforms and saves Leo.
- The Paladins “waste no time marching my friends to the edge of the tower and hurling them both into the air. Stick wails like a wounded cub…” A Jin of a spider saves them.
- When birds attack Leo and his friends, the spider “pulls them close and spools the beasts in layer after layer of webbing. He mercifully lowers his prisoners to the sea face-up, so they can breathe.”
- More birds attack and “the minokaw latches on to Zoya’s arm with its foot, digging sharp claws into her flesh. She yowls. Stick sinks his teeth into the minokaw’s foot while Wajid sends three rapid punches into the minokaw’s stomach until it releases Zoya. . . Magmar drives his two feet into the minokaws’ chest, killing them instantly.”
- Leo is told how the demon Hasatamara came to be. Before he was a demon, he killed his brother.
- Leo and his friends hide in a cave, but soldiers find them. “Magmar drops from the ceiling and quickly pins one intruder to the floor, while Wajid tackles the other… Wajid’s challenger wriggles free and knocks Wajid to the ground, then swings a blade at Magmar. The giant spider dodges the attack and seizes the soldier by the throat.” No one is injured.
- Leo’s mother is thrown over a cliff. “Mira plunges below the edge of the cliff and out of sight. Magmar bounds after her, but he’s too late.” The Red Firewing saves Mira.
- Leo and his friends battle the Maguar leader and her friends over several chapters. During the fight, soldiers “roll Magmar to the lip of the cliff, brutally stabbing and tearing his body as they go. Screeching with pain and fury and gushing blood… a badly wounded Magmar tumbles over the edge to the sea, where he will surely meet his death on sharp rocks.” Several people are killed.
- When Leo is about to lose the battle, he calls for a legion, and “the whole battlefield trembles and shifts like ripples of wind on water. All at once, millions of mice rise up from the dirt, announcing themselves with terrible squealing.” The mice swarm the soldiers, “pulling warriors down, filling their mouths and ears, smothering and suffocating.” Leo calls off the mice before the men are killed.
- During the battle, a group of Maguar helps Leo. “…Not only Abba but several members of his family are among the dead.”
Drugs and Alcohol
- Zoya calls her brother “brick brain” once.
- The Maguar calls Leo’s race “demonics.” In one scene, a Maguar calls them “stinking, sneaking, demonics.”
- The Maguar leader wants to find the Axis of the Ancients. “Somehow the Axis makes it possible for the Four Guardians to be on earth at the same time without killing the Shakyah or causing devastation to the world around them.” The Maguar leader is hoping the Four Guardians will go into battle with her.
- Leo is a Spinner who is compelled to tell stories. When they are telling a story, a vision appears, which only the Spinner can see. When the story ends, “a character or creature is always left behind when the disease hits me. These beings are faded, ghostly, and freakish.” Leo tries to hide the fact that he is a Spinner, but he often has these visions. When a character from the vision appears, Leo can talk to them.
- Leo learns that Spinners “are gateways to and from another world. The fictions are gifts from Alayah, sent through Spinners, gifts of wisdom and truth. For a few powerful Spinners, beings from the stories are pulled into our world to protect and serve the one who brought them here.”
- When a Spinner is a Shakyah, they have special power. When they say, “the name of a Jin, it is flesh and blood like all creatures in this world. When its earthly body is destroyed, or when the Shakyah who brought it dies, the Jin returns to the haven.”
- Leo has dreams that “let me see things that have happened, or things that will happen.”
- Hasatamara is a demon locked inside a mountain. “Hasatamara is the fabled sea demon who was drawn onto land by the salty scent of blood spilled in a prehistoric war… He rose up with a mighty wave and flooded much of the earth.”
- When Leo spins a story, a ghostlike, transparent tortoise appears. When an archer shoots at his friend, Leo says the tortoise’s name. “The Black Tortoise’s name is accompanied by a thundering boom, like having your head dunked underwater. The air ripples outward from Lamasura [the tortoise]. Everything becomes deadly still, frozen in time.” Leo is able to grab the arrow and save his friend. Then, “the boom sounds again, and things return to normal.”
- When a being comes from “the Haven, a world beyond ours,” they are called Jin. The being wants to return to their world. In order to send them back, Leo only has to say “I am willing.” When he says the words, “Instantly a fluttering sensation fills my chest. A cavity of light blasts out of my ribs. The brightness swirls and expands until my upper body is replaced by a vision of the Haven, where countless beings orbit an unearthly light.” The tortoise steps into the light and disappears.
- Leo discovers that “if Jin are kept in this world too long, they become sick. Eventually they shift and become servants of the demon.”
- Lamasura, one of the Four Guardians, can bend time.
- Singas believe that the Maguar’s god, Alayah, is a “make-believe god.”
- Leo questions, “If Alayah is so powerful and so good, couldn’t Alayah free the Jin?” Leo and a Jin discuss Alayah’s nature and how Alayah wants people to decide to do what’s right.
- The Jin of a spider appears. The Jin, Magmar, is known for being deceptive. Leo wonders, “If Alayah is tricking him again by sending him here. Maybe what the spider means for bad, Alayah will use for good.”
- Daviyah was a Maguar who died and “Daviyah’s spirit dwells in the Red Firewing, like all he Shakyahs before him.”
- One of the Jin says, “The Ancients say if we trust Alayah with every step, Alayah makes the path clear.”
- A Jin says, “Trust in Alayah with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.”