“Legends of the Guardian-King,” Karen Hancock’s fantasy fiction/Christian allegeory 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 Chesdh 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, back by his Mataian brothers, and Esuhr’s Armies of the Black Moon are once again marching toward Kiriath and Chesedh. Abramm and company are being stalked across the snowy countryside by demonic rhu’ema seeking his destruction.
Madeleine, Abramm’s Chesedhen wife, has fled to her homeland along with her husband’s sister, Carissa, and his longtime friend Trap Meridon. Trap has recently married Carissa, who had been raped and impregnated 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 turn back the advancing Esuhrites. Maddie’s relative try to convince her that an alliance with Draek Tiris is the kingdom’s only hope for 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 over the course of these four books, and now we 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 series, Hancock has brought us along not just on Abramm’s spiritual journey, but also 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 enjoy Christian/inspirational fiction, or simply love good fantasy fiction, these books are must-read items. I look foward to reading more of Hancock’s work very soon.