The Girl and the Guardian Volume I of the 2000-plus page epic fantasy Apples of Aeden, twelve years in the making. Newly edited in October 2012, with many new coloured maps and graphics throughout.
This epic isn't for the casual reader! Be warned: this world will draw you in, and you will lose yourself in it, and as with Galadriel's realm, those who visit Aeden do not emerge unchanged. The world of the epic is ageless, esoteric, philosophical, and Romantic, exploring in a vast cycle what an intergalactic civilisation which truly honoured Love, Beauty, Truth, and Freedom might have looked like - and how it might have fallen, and how far...
The Narrator, a distracted Oxford history student, finds a cryptic manuscript connected with the Knights Templar which leads him, via a hollow yew tree and a skeleton clutching an artefact not of this world, to Chartres cathedral, and thence to a mysterious antipodean forest containing an ancient Portal.
Meanwhile Shelley Arkle of New Zealand has had a very busy 13th birthday. On the way North, summoned by her eccentric grandfather, she learned that she was adopted, her ‘father’ crashed the car, then she was lured into the dangerous forest of the Fairyhill Reserve, and through its Portal into the world of Aeden (sketchily remembered by humans as the Garden of Eden).
Waiting there for Shelley is a grim hermit warrior. She flees from him, and is picked up by a sinister black wagon. She is rescued by the wild Boy Raiders, but her glasses are smashed. The Boys deliver her back to the grim warrior: Korman the Outcast. He swears to be her Guardian, and together they flee the Kiraglim Trackers and Wardogs. In the cave of the learned Padrathad, Shelley eats the healing Apples of Aeden, and her eyesight becomes perfect.
She learns that Aeden was once the hub of a magical Republic of nine worlds, whose pillars were Love, Beauty, Truth and Freedom, and which once honoured the Balance of the Divine Feminine and Masculine.
Shelley realizes that the fate of Earth is linked with that of Aeden. She begins to accept the mysterious call to become the Kortana, or Jewel-caller, and find the lost Heartstone of the Tree of Life. Only thus can Aeden be saved from the fanatical life-denying Aghmaath, or thornmen. Then the lost Balance between the Masculine (Truth and Freedom) and the suppressed Feminine (Love and Beauty) will be restored and the Fifth Age will dawn.
But first they must seek the hidden refuge of Urak Tara where Shelley will learn how to become the Kortana. Along the way she meets (to name a few): the rebel Quickblade and his Boy Raiders; the wild Urxura (the origin of our unicorn myths) and their even wilder friends the elusive Evergirls; Ainenia, Lady of Aeden and exiled mistress of Avalon; the boy Rilke who gives her a blue diamond; their shared pet Worriette, a cute orphaned wurrier; the not-so-cute werewurriers; a dragon-snake; a burrow-dwelling gem-hoarding anklebiter called Bootnip (Korman's grumpy pet); the squabbling dwellers of the Bottomless Canyon; swindling agathra fossickers; a colony of poets and artists; Hillgard the rebel Guardian; and the happy Waveriders. She also falls in love twice. Guided by the troubled Korman (and sometimes guiding him) she learns many magical wisdoms, such as Walking in Faery, Guiding the Unfolding, Entering the Dreamweb, and Defence against Mindbolts and Mindwebs. Pursued by the Aghmaath, they are hampered by the fact that Korman long ago vowed not use Arcratine, his mighty firesword. One by one the remnants of the Old Order are being conquered, and they are drawn into battles and seiges as they seek the lost school of Ürak Tara.
When a fateful pact with Korman goes wrong, Shelley is left alone on an island on Lake Deadwater, deep in the thornfields. But a strange, forsaken creature from the lake comes to her aid, and together they escape, seeking Ürak Tara. She is now a true Rebel of Aede