“Legends of the Guardian-King,” Karen Hancock’s fantasy fiction/Christian allegory series, concludes with the fourth installment, Return of the Guardian-King. Picking up just weeks from where Shadow Over Kiriath left off, RotG-K opens with Abramm Kalladorne, deposed as king and believed by many to be dead, en route to Chesedh with a group of Kiriathans who are fleeing the new tyranny which has gripped their homeland. The former king hopes to be reunited with his wife and sons if, in fact, they are still alive. Abramm’s brother Gillard is on the throne, backed by his Mataian brothers, and Esuhr’s Army of the Black Moon is once again marching toward Kiriath and Chesedh. Abramm and company are being stalked across the snowy countryside by demonic rhu’ema seeking Abramm’s destruction.
Madeleine, Abramm’s Chesedhen wife, has fled to Chesedh along with her husband’s sister, Carissa, and his close friend, Trap Meridon. Trap has recently married Carissa, who had been raped and impregnated many months earlier by her ex-husband. Carissa has given birth to a son, but marital strain is driving the Meridons to the brink of divorce. Madeleine is also pregnant with a child she knows is Abramm’s, but her family wishes was not. Maddie waits for her husband and two young sons to return to her, although she does not know if any of them remain alive.
The Chesedhen royals want Maddie to accept Abramm’s death and marry a suitor. Enter Draek Tiris, a mysterious man from a distant land. Tiris is wealthy and handsome, and his armies could help Chesedh turn back the advancing Esuhrites. Maddie’s relatives try to convince her that Draek Tiris is the kingdom’s only hope of remaining free. Yet she continues to cling to the hope that her husband is still alive, although that hope is now fading fast. And something simply does not seem right about this Draek Tiris.
Return of the Guardian-King makes a fitting conclusion to Karen Hancock’s outstanding series. Abramm Kalladorne has come a long way in his spiritual journey over the course of these four books, and we now find a more mature Terstan who has grown closer to Eidon (Hancock’s name for the Judaeo-Christian God in Abramm’s world), and has learned to trust Eidon more readily rather than leaning on his own understanding.
Throughout the “Legends of the Guardian-King” series, Hancock has brought us along not just on Abramm’s spiritual journey, but on the quests of many of her other characters including Trap, Carissa, Maddie, and Brother Belmir, one of Abramm’s old Mataian teachers. We even see Abramm’s uncle, an atheist, wrestling with the faith that has made his nephew such a strong and wise person.
Return of the Guardian-King is another fascinating read from Karen Hancock, and a brilliant conclusion to this series. If you love Christian/inspirational fiction, or just love any well-crafted fantasy fiction, these books are must-read items. I look forward to reading more of Hancock’s work very soon.
Reviews of other novels you might enjoy:
The Light of Eidon: Book One of Karen Hancock’s Legends of the Guardian-King Series
The Shadow Within: Book Two of Karen Hancock’s Legends of the Guardian-King Series
Shadow Over Kiriath: Book Three of Karen Hancock’s Legends of the Guardian-King Series
Firebird by Kathy Tyers: A Re-Write of a Classic Sci-Fi Novel