Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Legends of the Guardian King

I'm continuing the CSFF tour regarding Karen Hancock's latest book, Return of the Guardian King. It is the 4th and final book in her series Legends of the Guardian King. Since I am new to Hancock's work, I decided that I would dive into the first book, The Light of Eidon in order to point people to the start of the series (there wasn't any way I would burn through 4 books in time either). Hopefully my introduction to the series will encourage you to pick up a great storyline!

The Light of Eidon centers on Abramm Kalladorne, prince of Kiriath. He is weaker physically and not in direct line to be an heir to the throne, so he pursues the religious society of Mataio in order to serve his country by protecting the Flames of Eidon.

As he approaches the time for his initiation, he is swept up in political intrigue that sees his whole life turned upside down. Questioning his whole life and what he was taught to believe, he must learn to survive in a savage world, finding the truth amidst all the struggle.

Hancock delivers a wonderfully engaging story that is full of the themes and props that make an enjoyable fantasy - epic battles, struggle for life, heroes and heroines, magic, fierce creatures. Her characterization and worlds are well-developed and rightly praised for their engrossing detail. The action draws you in quickly and rarely lets up the pace, without sacrificing quality development of the plot and peoples of this world. She is also very adept at keeping the reader guessing. The truth is not always what it seems, and old foes spring up at unexpected times.

Eidon is a spiritual tale that stands tall as the premier of Christian fantasy, but also deserves recognition outside of the Christian market as well. She shows true struggle, whether physical combat or emotional battles.

One aspect that I truly appreciated was how she handles difficult situations (writing-wise). As an industry, the CBA (Christian Booksellers Association) has some standards that can be controversial in how sin and the "gory" details should be shown. The unofficial standards can cause problems in describing sexual situations, bodily functions, and violence. My opinion is that Hancock delivers a tale based on reality that sets up the situation that is authentic for the story without being sensationalism . For instance, when two characters are attracted to one another, she writes the sexual tension in a way that doesn't offend sensibilities, but it is clear what is happening. Often in Christian fiction the stigma forces an author to write something that is less than authentic. This is an observation that is more related to the writing craft than the enjoyment of the story, but it doesn't pull one out of the fictive world like when these type of situations are poorly handled.

Overall, I see why Karen Hancock has won multiple Christy awards for her fiction, and why she is so highly regarded among my fellow speculative fiction fans. I strongly recommend The Light of Eidon. I also encourage you to check out the links I put in yesterday's post to find out more about Return of the Guardian King and the rest of her books (though watch for spoilers if you're new to the series).

1 comment:

  1. Fine review, Jason. Besides the "reality" of the scene you allude to, I like the way Karen used it in the later books. It's not just thrown in for the sake of making the character seem like a real person. I believe that can be done in other ways. She had something specific in mind that isn't apparent in this book.

    Congrats on the 1 year anniversary. Mine slipped by without me noticing until some time after. We should throw a blog party! ;-)