The Light of Eidon by Karen Hancock, Bethany House.
The Legends of the Guardian King series is billed as the next epic tale for Lord of the Rings fan, so I was immediately skeptical. A LOTR fan since I was 12, I was prepared for disappointment. If I was expecting disappointment, then I was, well… pleasantly disappointed.
The first book, The Light of Eidon, captured my attention almost immediately with its unlikely hero, the youthful Eldrin who treasures truth and longs for a life serving his God. Eldrin is preparing to take the final test of Mataian priesthood in the service of the Flames of Eidon. Born Abramm Kalladorne, the sickly fifth son of the King of Kiriath, Eldrin has taken a new name for his religious order and now must pass a final test to take his vows. But in seeking a sign in the Flames, he is stricken instead to feel coldness, fear and revulsion and “a flat, shocked emptiness.”
The next shock to greet Eldrin is learning from his sister Carissa that three of his brothers have died mysteriously leaving only one brother between him and the throne. From that point on events happen quickly and on the eve of taking his vows, Eldrin is not only betrayed by his mentor who tries to force an evil conversion upon him, but he is also sold into slavery by his brothers along with the Terstan soldier Meridon.
From galley slave to scribe to gladiator, Eldrin is forced to reexamine his faith. He turns away from Eidon because of the evil he has experienced at the hands of the Matain priests, but he won’t embrace the Terstan way, either, as he has been taught from his youth that the Terstans are in league with the Shadow. He takes back the name Abramm, and in the arena he becomes what all the sons of the Kalladornes are meant to be, a warrior.
As his growing prowess with the sword leads him to popularity with the masses, so does his growing friendship with Meridon lead him to conflicting emotions about Eidon and the Terstans. Along the way he discovers that Eidon, the God he thought betrayed him at the hands of his brothers and the priests, has in fact molded him into something far greater than anyone ever thought possible through his suffering, and will lead him to a destiny no one will expect.
Although I would not rate The Guardian Kings as deserving the pedestal The Lord of the Rings dominates, still, it is a provocative, exhilarating read. The characters are more than believable, they are rich with flaws, hopes, dreams, and courage. The plot is exciting and moves at just the right pace, with appropriate twists and turns to keep the reader guessing and hooked. I liked these books. I liked them a LOT. If you are a fan of medieval tales, of knights, castles, heroes and fantasy, this series should resonate with you.
Book 2: The Shadow Within book review
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