Tuesday, April 17, 2007

CSFF Tour Day 2: Review of Return of the Guardian-King, by Karen Hancock

I hate to admit that until finding that the CSFF was touring this book, I had not read any of the titles in this series. (Shock, I know.) I’ve been told that this is some of the best fantasy out there, so last month I decided to find out for myself. Problem was, I didn’t have major bucks for the first three books, and my library only had the second one. So I went so far as to procure an ILL (inter-library loan) for the other two books. This only cost me $2 each (well worth it, I assure you). I gobbled up the first three books in the series in about two weeks.

Not since Tolkein have I come across such a well-devised world. Kiriath is no Middle Earth, nor is it Narnia, but it made me think of Camelot or some such landscape. Knights, coups for the kingship, religious fanatics, sea battles, slavery, dragons, disguises, sword fights and rescues rule the day. And let me tell you, the plot is thicker than a twelve-layer cake.

To summarize the series a bit, Abramm Kalladorne is in line to be King of Kiriath after his older brother dies. The only problem is: he doesn’t want to be king. In fact, he has joined a religious sect called the Mataians and devoted his life in service to Eidon, the one true God. Only after he realizes the religious order is a farce does he decide to return to Eidon’s will for him—the kingship.

However, circumstances turn against him in waves. He is sold into slavery, made to fight in the Eshuran games and encounters numerous other obstacles before he can make his way back to Kiriath. Even after he takes his rightful throne, the Mataians and the Army of the Black Moon prove formidable foes for Kiriath and its soon-to-be ally Chesedh.

Abramm fights many battles, marries the 2nd daughter of Chesedh and by the beginning of Return of the Guardian-King, is thought to be dead. His evil brother Gillard has usurped the throne and has plunged the country into more peril than ever before.

Abramm again assumes a false identity, trying to make it back to Chesedh, where he hopes his wife will be waiting for him, despite the thin hope that he will return. A mysterious easterner, indeed, has been courting Maddie in Abramm’s absence. Will she give in to the temptation to ease her loneliness, or will she hold out for the true love she knows in her heart still lives? And will Abramm give in to his sinful soul or continue to give everything over to Eidon, choosing His will over Abramm’s own?

No lover of fantasy will be disappointed with this series. Once the reader has opened the first page of any of these four books, she won’t be able to stop reading until the last page has been turned. The Kiriathan epic is one unequaled in Christian fiction. Hopefully Hancock will continue to turn out novels of this high caliber for years to come.

Again, here are the links:
Return of the Guardian-King
Karen's web site
Karen's blog


  1. Well, I'm glad you went through the trouble and expense to secure yerself some mighty fine readin' experiences!

    And thank you for allowing me my opinion. Generous of you. ;-)

  2. Thanks, Karri. I appreciate the kind words and your contribution to the tour. Glad you enjoyed the books.

  3. Karri,

    thanks for the great synopsis. That helps catch me up as I've not read the first three in the series.

  4. Karri, I'll be posting a link to you on my blog tomorrow. I'm not going to summarize the plot so I've been looking for people who have.

    Well done!

  5. Karri, great summary of the series! I'm always thrilled to hear of someone else discovering it ... and loving it as much as I did!