Return of the Guardian King

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With great anticipation I have been awaiting the fourth and final book in the “Legends of the Guardian King” series by Karen Hancock, and I was thrilled when my review copy arrived. However, I was a little apprehensive. I had loved the first two books in the series, and had a positive but slightly mixed reaction to the third book. Would the last book live up to my enthusiasm for the first two books or would it nosedive down from the third book?
I needn’t have worried. Karen Hancock has taken the many threads from the first three books and woven most of them almost seamlessly into an exciting and rewarding final chapter that answers most of the questions raised throughout the saga of Abramm Kalladorne’s life from prince, to religious scholar, to galley slave, to gladiator, to King of Kiriath. Each chapter in his life has led Abramm to greater sacrifice… and greater reward as he seeks to serve his God. He has already faced what appeared to be his ultimate sacrifice when he was asked to renounce his God or face torture and execution at the cliff-hanger ending of the third book, Shadow over Kiriath. This time Abramm must make the choice between returning to and saving his wife and children, and his best friend, or following his God in a completely different direction. The results of Abramm’s choices are exhilarating.
Not since Lord of the Rings and Chronicles of Narnia have characters been more fleshed out and believable while the fight between good and evil been depicted more clearly. Hancock has found that rare balance that allows her characters to experience significant spiritual lessons while she refrains from clumsy, heavy-handed insertion of apologetics or scripture. Scripture is there in abundance, but the delivery is timely and eloquent.
I have seen many books compare themselves to Lord of the Rings or claim to be the next “Harry Potter” while falling flat on their delivery of entertainment value. Hancock entertains and she delivers. The only fault I find, and it is small, occurrs mainly in the third book (which seems to serve as a bridge between the first two books and Return of the Guardian King) where a couple of “look what happened when you weren’t looking” events occurred, important to the tale’s development but left out of the books and then inserted as a past event. I had to wonder if some numbers-conscious editor had scenes shaved to fit some arbitrary page number count. I hope that these wonderful books are reissued some day and that a few loose ends are fleshed out and tied in, much like Tolkien did in his books.
In any case, these books are a must read for anyone who enjoys Christian fantasy or good literature. Each time a new book in the series has come out, I have reread the first books again, and I have not tired of them yet. Return of the Guardian King provides a worthy conclusion to the “Legends of the Guardian King” series. I am only sorry that the tales of Abramm Kalladorne, Maddie, Carissa and Trap, have finally come to an end. Let’s just hope Karen Hancock is weaving her magic again with a new set of characters whom I can enjoy getting to know.

Book 1:The Light of Eidon book review

Book 2:The Shadow Within book reviewBook 3:Shadow Over Kiriath book review

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