Review—Return of the Guardian-King

Now that I know a little better what I’m doing to upload pictures here, I thought you ought to see the cover of Karen Hancock’s finale of the Legend of the Guardian-King series again, this time a bit bigger. And, yes, those are dragons. Surprised? Wait until you read it.

    Return of the Guardian-King

Do you recognize this?

Abramm let his eyes drift over the hills below, pockets of bright yellow jumping out from the green here and there. “I think I will be back here one day …”

“Yes, I think you will be, too.”

“He looked around, surprised, and the stranger met his gaze, a pair of dark and friendly eyes looking out of his weathered face. And it almost seemed he knew who Abramm was.

“Hey, up there!” called one of the men from the yard. “They say with the wind that’s sprung up we’d best leave soon t’ thread the pass before it snows. If ye want t’ come, ye’d best get yer baggage gathered up.”

“Thanks,” Abramm called down to him. “I’ll do that.”

He turned back to the man who had been beside him, but the stranger was already gone.

So ended Shadow over Kiriath, all but for a short postlude written in the antagonist’s point of view. Abramm’s world had collapsed. He learned of the plot against him instigated by his puppet-brother at the behest of his true enemies, engineered his wife’s escape, even as he allowed himself to be captured. Tortured to make him renounce the Light, he is ultimately assigned public execution. However, his uncle mounted a clandestine rescue. Abramm took on his middle name Alaric, and after healing from injuries, made his way toward Chesedh.

Return of the Guardian-King picks up the story from that point. Abramm as Alaric does not make it over the pass before the snow comes. Meanwhile, Maddie, his wife, believes he is dead, as does the entire nation, because an impostor was executed in his place. Except … except … as she grieves, she continues to dream of him, and cannot put him from her mind—certainly cannot entertain any thoughts of remarriage as her sister-in-law urges her to do as a political expediency.

From that point on, the story moves from one exciting turn to another, the political intrigue and the spiritual battle intertwining as they have throughout the Legends of the Guardian-King series.

Without a doubt, fans of the series will be pleased by the final installment. There are lots of surprises, dangers, moments of despair and of triumph.

Strengths. Once again, Karen Hancock has situated an interesting story in a dense fantasy world. I say “dense” because of the in-depth development of each society, each faction, whether it is the opposition to Abramm in Kiriath, the simple people he finds himself traveling with, the royal Chesedh court, or the brutal enemy Esurite system.

Weakness. The “faith elements,” quite transparent in the earlier books of the series, seem even more so in this final chapter. The happy-ever-after ending we all suspect from the beginning is stretched too far, in my opinion—one particular point involving one of Abramm’s sons makes the end seem like just a bit too neat a package to feel real.

Recommendation. Those who were hooked by the end of Shadow over Kiriath and have been waiting for this book for over a year will be ecstatic and will not be disappointed. The characters they’ve come to love are front and center and once again tested to the max.

This is most definitely not a “stand-alone,” however, and publisher Bethany House did a disservice not to promote it as a Tolkien-esque unit. We’ve all seen the development of “Potter-mania” as hundreds of thousands of fans wait for the release of the next book. It builds enthusiasm and excitement, and that same approach would have benefitted Hancock’s books. I highly recommend Return of the Guardian-King to fans who have read the first three books. For others who love fantasy, get The Light of Eidon and start the series from the beginning.

Published in: on March 12, 2007 at 9:22 am  Comments (14)  

14 Comments

  1. I look forward to reading books 2 & 3. She’s a groundbreaker and we owe a debt of gratitude for her obedience to God and for her courage to press on.

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  2. I’m getting a freebie one from CSFF blog tour:) Looking forward to receiving it and reading!

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  3. I checked the first three out from the library, and am also getting a review copy of #4 for next month’s blog tour. This was the first “Christian” fantasy I’ve read, and I plan to comment on the whole series for the tour.

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  4. Chris, I agree that Karen opened the door to fantasy with the CBA. Well, God opened the door and He used Karen’s stories. I do want to support her and I want to see other writers follow in her footsteps.

    Eve, if you don’t have time to read the first three books, I suggest you check some of the reviews at Christian Fandom or Christian Fiction Review. Otherwise, book 4 will be a difficult read—more than the others, it seems, this one relies on what went on before, even in the first book. Maybe, especially in the first book.

    Kameron, I think commenting on the whole series is excellent. I wanted to get this review up pre-tour and book release, and I’m now not sure how I’ll approach the tour.

    Becky

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  5. Thanks for the tip Becky-will check them out.

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  6. […] Reviews (ones you have done; ones featuring your book) Example: Return of the Guardian King by Karen Hancock – Bethany House (April 1, 2007) Rebecca LuElla Miller at A Christian Worldview of Fiction https://rebeccaluellamiller.wordpress.com/2007/03/12/reveiw-return-guardian-king/ […]

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  7. […] As to the review, I recieved an advance readers copy of the book back in December, I think it was, read it, and already posted my review here. […]

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  8. […] Return of the Guardian King by Karen Hancock – Bethany House (April 1, 2007) Rebecca LuElla Miller at A Christian Worldview of Fiction https://rebeccaluellamiller.wordpress.com/2007/03/12/reveiw-return-guardian-king/ […]

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  9. […] Return of the Guardian King by Karen Hancock – Bethany House (April 1, 2007) Rebecca LuElla Miller at A Christian Worldview of Fiction https://rebeccaluellamiller.wordpress.com/2007/03/12/reveiw-return-guardian-king/ […]

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  10. I agree with you! its a great book, but too bad it ends…I feel so empty putting it down after so many years waiting for it…

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  11. […] Return of the Guardian King by Karen Hancock – Bethany House (April 1, 2007) Rebecca LuElla Miller at A Christian Worldview of Fiction https://rebeccaluellamiller.wordpress.com/2007/03/12/reveiw-return-guardian-king/ […]

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  12. […] Return of the Guardian King by Karen Hancock – Bethany House (April 1, 2007) Rebecca LuElla Miller at A Christian Worldview of Fiction https://rebeccaluellamiller.wordpress.com/2007/03/12/reveiw-return-guardian-king/ […]

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  13. […] Return of the Guardian King by Karen Hancock – Bethany House (April 1, 2007) Rebecca LuElla Miller at A Christian Worldview of Fiction https://rebeccaluellamiller.wordpress.com/2007/03/12/reveiw-return-guardian-king/ […]

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  14. […] Reviews (ones you have done; ones featuring your book) Example: Return of the Guardian King by Karen Hancock – Bethany House (April 1, 2007) Rebecca LuElla Miller at A Christian Worldview of Fiction https://rebeccaluellamiller.wordpress.com/2007/03/12/reveiw-return-guardian-king/ […]

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