Thursday, February 22, 2007

Karen Hancock's Return of the Guardian King ~ Reviewed

Return of the Guardian King
Karen Hancock
Published by Bethany House (April 1, 2007)
ISBN-10: 0764227971

Abramm Kalladorne knows that is his wife Maddie singing just ahead. Separated from her and their boys when his kingdom fell to his brother, he is anxious for a reunion. As he hurries forward, he stumbles—and is jerked back to cruel reality. He isn't crossing a sunny meadow on his way to a joyous family reunion. He's one in a group of refugees lost in a snowstorm in the mountains, miles from his family. Known to his companions as Alaric, evil knows his true identity and pursues him into the mountains and beyond. Moroq, his oldest enemy, will do anything he must to destroy Abramm.

His wife, Maddie, has arrived in the royal city of Fannath Rill, in her home country of Chesedh. Alone. Her oldest son, Simon, is missing and Ian, her youngest, she saw killed as they tried to escape Kiriath. She's also received word that Abramm was captured and burned in Execution Square. An outcast among her own people, she comes under increasing pressure to cast aside her grief, renounce her faith, and assimilate into the royal lifestyle. As First Daughter, she has a role to play and certain rules to follow.

Others of the Kirithian royal party are also living in Fannath Rill. Crown Princess Carrissa, Abramm's sister and Trap Meridon, Duke of Northille-Abramm's oldest and closest friend-are exiles with Maddie. Each has their own personal storms to contend with, as well as grief the loss of Abramm and his sons.

The personal struggles are carried out against the backdrop of war. Betrayal and a new role she feels unprepared to fill will stretch Maddie's faith to the breaking point. Abramm's own faith undergoes it own fire as he determines to follow his first love, no matter what the cost.

Return of the Guardian King is the final novel in the outstanding Legends of the Guardian King series by Karen Hancock, winner of multiple Christy awards. This last book lives up to the standards set by the first—an intricate and complicated story world inhabited by complex characters. A lot of her writing reminds me of JRR Tolkein's fantasy works—story worlds with great depth and characters capable of stirring up this reader's emotions. This entire series has a permanent place on my bookshelves.

Cheryl Russell

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