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Summary

When Kaori Sansa’s father dies, he is forced to return home to claim the throne as the rightful heir of the country of Kazure. In the aftermath of his father’s death, he learns that the country he loves is riddled with corruption and is hovering on the brink of war. Will he be able to hold the kingdom together despite the odds that are stacked against it and, somehow, unlock the buried powers of Shinja, the Sacred Beast of Kazure?

©2018 J.A. Jaken (P)2021 J.A. Jaken

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4,5 stars

This was a new to me author and I must say that I am pleasantly suprised by the book, this is thefirst in a series. I was quickly swept up in the story , also due to the great narration. This story has all the twist and turns of a proper world building . I really enjoy the fact that there is a good storyline with the romance simmering on the side. I am lookibg forward to read or listen to the next volumes in the series.This audiobook was given to me to leave an honest review.

1 person found this helpful

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Fantasy on grand scale

Readers interested in fantasy historical adventure stories on epic scale are in for a real treat. The time of events is not clearly defined but as horses are main method of transport and swords and arrows are the weapons of war we are definitely going back in time to land ruled by Shogun like warlords who swear fealty to High Lord and king of Kazure. The story opens with the death of the king and his son and heir Kaori Sansa has to interrupt his studies at the university and return home to take over the rule of Kazure. On his return everyone expects him to keep things going as they have before but the new young king has ideas of his own and decides to visit the border lords to see for himself how his kingdom is faring in reality and why there is a new feeling of gathering threat from the neighboring lands. He travels with his loyal retinue of servants who are more like friends. The closest is Hunter, the bodyguard since childhood who has personal experience of organised child slavery that plagues the borderlands and whose fighting skills as a lead member of fearless Assassins Guild are put to test time and again on their quest to find the source of corruption and criminality.
This first installment in what doubtless will be an epic series is beautifully written with intricate world building both in terms of the lands, customs and people; but also the inner thoughts of the main characters. The political plotting and powerplay lay rich setting for the culminating events for this book but it is clear the extensive groundwork is made for following episodes in this fantasy tale of magic and monsters - both human and bugs.
Dan Calley did a great job in bringing the characters to iife with different accents and voices. His voice is well suited for this style of story and I hope the subsequent installments will be narrated by him to keep the unity.
I highly recommend this book for lovers of epic fantasy where the detailed world building and rich description is essential part of the enjoyment.

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An adventures fantasy with a slow burn romance.

This book was a real surprise. The blurb got my interest, but the story is much deeper and more complicated than I have expected.
It starts when Kaori is forced to return to Kazure. Soon he walks a tightrope. He has to face political intrigues and other problems.
I enjoyed Kaoris character a lot. He has learned and studied a lot but he still feels unsecure in his new position. With the death of His father his whole world changed. His character development is exciting. Fortunately he is not alone. Hunter, his Guardian and a few close friends support him.
They All have to face difficult situations and all their skills are needed.
Hunter is very supportive towards Kaori and his story is touching.
I loved the way Hunter and Kaori interact with each other. There is a slow building tension between these two men. But the romance is a minor matter compared to all the breathtaking problems they have to solve.
The next two books in this series have already been published and I hope the audiobook will follow soon. I can't wait to meet Kaori and Hunter again.
The narrator Dan Calley is a very good choice. His slightly soothing voice carried me away easily.

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Brilliant !

A truly first class fantasy story. It is well thought out and truly creative. I really enjoyed the development of the main character from student to King - Oh !!! To have a leader like Kaori is becoming.!!! I'm really looking forward to the next book in this series.
The whole experience is enhanced by an excellent narrator.

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An awesome new world to explore!

Amazing world building in this Sacred Guardian series book 1. I loved the slow burn relationship of Kaori and Hunter but there is so much more to the story! Love and loss, getting over the past, politics, adventure, mysticism. I was particularly caught by whether kaori would learn how to summon Shinja and also the analogy of exploring the rooms of the mansion inside in us in order to grow. The narration using various British accents was unusual but won me over and became seamless, adding to the colour of the plot. I can’t wait to see how Kaori and Hunter continue their love and lives and I will definitely be reading the rest of the series!

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Good adventure

A fantasy adventure story of a young man who suddenly becomes a king and his loyal guard. Reeeaally slow burn romance. I did enjoy the story and the fantasy setting but I would've liked more love scenes. There's lot of action, magic and fighting with evil and a satisfying HEA.
Dan Calley had a good voice for a story like this, even if he does sound bit too old for Kaori.

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  • Diver
  • 19-06-21

Needs some work

Good fantasy featuring the LGBTQ community is hard to come by and I was hoping for another series to add to my recommendation library, but unfortunately I can’t with this one.
I don’t know if this was one the authors earlier works or not but the story telling seemed unpolished. Characters would state the obvious in their dialogue and/or the answers to some of the “mysteries” fell in the obvious category as well which just made it feel like the story telling was full of just filler words that didn’t add to world building or actually making things move along. I don’t want to be harsh on the author but I do feel this book needed a review like this for some of us to factor into our decision to pick up this book. I did like the narrator so I may look for other books this narrator has worked on.

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  • HP Reader
  • 07-06-21

Excellent Plot, Perfect Narration

I have wanted to read this book for some time now, but because of poor eyesight, I had to wait until it became available in audio.

It was definitely worth the wait. Dan Calley did a wonderful job of narrating the voices of the different characters. I love the world building here, along with a decent balance between plot and sex. I enjoy when an author can keep me guessing, too, as to who the traitor really is.

I don't like spoilers so I can't say too much more other than I am glad I listened to the audio. Reading the book would have been good, but the story came to life with Dan's narration. I highly recommend it.

And I can't wait to hear more of Dan's narration in this series.

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  • Kara Miller
  • 02-06-21

Amazing

Wow. All I can say is wow. This story is so amazing contrary to the rough coverart, I’m glad I didn’t pass over this one for it, the world just pulls you in. It was hard to get a good grasp of the characters and time period in the first couple of chapters. Honestly the time/era is never explained so you just kind of have to guess. That’s probably my only complaint. While I wish there was more romance overall , im glad the story focused on an actual plot and not just comedic smut. This is by far my favorite lgbt fantasy book.

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  • hussfan
  • 02-06-21

I Loved It

I loved this amazing fantasy so much that I didn't mind the slowest burn romance ever. Fantasy is one of my favorite genres and this book is a fantasy at its best with political intrigue, lords and their loyal protectors, battles to the death and so much more. For some reason I got a feel of Game of Thrones while listening to the Sacred Guardians, not sure why, there is nothing similar, but I felt as captivated as I did when I was reading book one of the GoT series. I loved main characters Kaori and Hunter, as well all the supporting cast. Narrator did a great job with voices for every character and the story telling. This was new to me author and I am so excited to check out their other works. This was a great listening experience.

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  • Erryn Barratt
  • 01-06-21

Test of Valour

At over 13 hours, this book is epic. It tells of a young university student thrown into the role of leader upon the untimely death of his father. Kaori Sensa is ill-prepared for this position and had believed he had time. He quickly realizes he will be afforded none. As High Lord, he is expected to rule over a vast kingdom. This book is a quest of sorts – he must learn about his people. In the process, of course, he learns about himself.

His adventures are interesting as he solves riddles, solves crimes, and generally brings to light some of the criminal elements of his people. Sometimes it pushed credulity that this young man could find solutions no one else saw, but that’s part of the magic. There are fantasy elements, to be sure, but they aren’t as prominent than in other books I’ve read. There is a timelessness to this tale as all epic quests are.

Kaori’s one blind spot is his affection for Hunter. He knows nothing of this guard who is just always there. Hunter’s backstory is revealed as this book has the dual point of view and it’s tragic and disturbing to be sure. As the men spend time together, Kaori admits his attraction to his bodyguard. But how will that work? He is expected to marry and produce an heir. Well, there’s a clever solution to that which I really liked.

I love Dan Calley as a narrator, and he was one of the reasons I tackled this book. His voice worked in this story and I loved how he brought the words to life. Apparently this is the first in a series which surprised me since the resolution felt true. Ah well, I’m intrigued to see where it goes next.

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  • Janet L Hunt
  • 26-05-21

Fantastic

Epic fantasy at it best with intrigue and romance. Loved it! Dan Calley was spot on with the narrative!

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  • AvidReader
  • 24-05-21

Really Excellent Book!

J. A. Jaken is a new author for me. I found a post from him about this book on a Facebook group and decided to give Through the Last Door a try. I was absolutely enchanted with the writing! The narrator, Dan Calley, was perfect! I look forward to reading and listening to additional books by J. A. Jaken and hopefully Dan Calley as narrator.

If you are into the MM Paranormal/Fantasy Genre you should really give this book a try. You won't be sorry.

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  • Roxcell J
  • 22-05-21

Perfection

The narration was amazing. The storyline of fantasy, intrigue and romance was top notch. I need the next one in audio format immediately please.

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  • Havan_IronOak
  • 11-05-21

Ye Olde Shogunate Japanese style Fantasy yarn

This epic offers a whole new fantasy world to explore. And this time we don’t follow a peasant or even a minor noble. Here the main character Kaori is the scion of the royal family. This epic initially had the feel of Dune, but as many reviewers have said… with a Shogunate Japanese aspect. That Japanese feel is muted quite a bit when read & voiced by Dan Calley in his variety of regionally English accents.

As a young and unproven sovereign, Kaori resolves to visit the outlying provinces of his new realm and assure the border lords that he understands and appreciates their interests. Accompanied by several of his friends and bodyguards, this trip soon becomes more than he expected.

To call this a slow-burn is a colossal understatement. It’s sixteen chapters (5+ hours of audio-book) before the phrase “relationships between men” is even spoken, and over 30 chapters before we get past a simple snogging. To be sure, there is a slow burning M/M relationship at the heart of this saga, but it’s not expressed primarily in the bedroom. Though rest assured it is finally achieved.

The world building here is superb, and woven into the tale seamlessly, seldom interrupting the present time action. Kaori, the main character, seems hopelessly naive and trusting at times, and yet it’s probably that quality that has surrounded him with such a supportive cadre of supporting characters. Yes, there ARE a few villains, but most of the main character’s trust is not misplaced.

Note: There are plot elements that deal with child slavery and some may find this harrowing, but its not outside the norm for this style of sword and sorcery style fantasy tale.

Dan Calley does his usual, capable job with both the narration and giving voice to the various characters in the tale. There were a few British pronunciations that seemed jarring to my fully American ear, but that is easily made up for with the wonderful voice acting for all of the main characters and supporting cast.

I’m not sure if he was even aware of it at the time, but Calley does manage to pick somewhat annoying, weaselly voice characterizations for the real villains. That gave an odd sort of foreshadowing to the tale.

At 13+ hours this is one of the longest audio-books I’ve listened to, and one of the first where I noticed the Audible Cloud reader hang up while “buffering” from time to time. I’m not sure if it’s common in longer books, but simply closing the audible reader and reopening it seemed to consistently solve the problems.

Knowing the nature of this tale, I think it would make an ideal road book for a long drive. I’ll be sure to bring this (or possibly the sequel if it’s been released on audio-book by then) along on my next long road trip.

*** Free copy of this title provided to the reviewer in hopes of a fair and impartial review***

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  • Laurie Monical
  • 08-05-21

A Fantastic Book!

I loved this book. The narration was great. The story kept me interested all the way through. it was well worth my time.