Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Day 3: Karen Hancock's Return of the Guardian King, a review

CSSF Blog Tour


And now for my review of Return of the Guardian-King ...

Abramm Kalladorne has lost everything—wife and sons, crown and country, friends and supporters. This story opens with him trying to make his way across the mountains before winter closes in, in order to reach the city where his family and closest retainers had been sent . . . but it appears that Eidon has other plans for him. In the meantime, with more evidence than not that Abramm is dead, his wife Madeleine struggles to hold out against a handsome, charming suitor and pressure from those around her to remarry. But, of course, the plans of neither turn out the way they expect, and the path of trial once more becomes the way to learn a deeper appreciation for divine grace and love.

Now comes the part where I’m supposed to tell what I think about the book. I've already recognized that where this series (and author) are concerned, I’ve pretty much lost all objectivity (see my Christian Fandom review of The Shadow Within); and with Trackers, I decided it was impossible for me to be objective about books by people I know and love outside the boundaries of a story. I can tell you that I devoured the book within twelve hours of getting it into my hands. I was gratified to find that certain things I’d foreseen did indeed take place, and that my growing suspicions throughout the story were proven true. We learn the answers to such questions as, do Ian and Simon survive? When does Trap finally get off his duff and marry Carissa? When/how are Maddie and Abramm reunited, and what becomes of all the players in the terrible events of the last book? And the resolution is satisfying, as I knew it would be, although I agree that we could have been given more time to savor it. (But people are rarely allowed to write Lord of the Rings endings anymore …)

However, this was a hard read in some aspects—just too personal and intimate to be purely entertaining. We delve so deeply into Abramm’s spiritual journey—and indeed, this is more about his spiritual walk, manifested in the natural, than daring exploits and heroic military maneuvers—that I’m afraid some readers will complain that the author has been too heavy-handed and preachy. For me, I stand in awe that this work, begun close to two years ago (if I remember correctly), speaks so deeply to right where I am in my walk with God, now. And, because I’ve been struggling so hard against the waiting in my own life, it was hard not to be ticked at seeing the characters have to wait, too … the delays, the side trips, God’s “no, I want you to go here and learn this lesson first.” Even though I know exactly what it’s all for and what it’s meant to produce, and that somehow I’ll never be the fullness of what God intends for me if I don’t submit to the process, I still want to beat my head against a wall in frustration—and was seriously tempted to throw the book up against one at least once during reading. :-)

And yet, the story is a beautiful illustration of Job … losing all and having those closest to you misunderstand the nature of your trial and question your ability to hear and follow God's voice … of God Himself only providing the answer that “I am the LORD; beside me there is no other God.” It calls forth from many of us, I believe, an echo of Job’s deepest expression of faith … indeed, though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.

Thank you, Karen, for being a willing vessel for these stories. Thank you for sharing the journey with us—your faith and obedience has helped nourish my own, and you have become very dear to my heart. I pray this tour has given back even a fraction of the blessing we’ve received from you!

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If you haven't yet visited the other tour participants, please scroll down to day 2 for the list. Also, Karen's blog is a "keeper," and her site has lots of interesting content related to her books and writing.

3 comments:

  1. That was a wonderful, heartfelt review. I felt that Eidon was like a third main character, didn't you?

    Because I didn't start from the beginning, I have to go back and start from LoE.

    Still, it was really good. The series is something you could recommend to anyone.

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  2. Shannon, thank you so much for heading up the tour, doing the Interview and for this review. It has touched me deeply and reminds me who was really behind the writing of RotGK. And it wasn't muddle-headed me!

    As for the waiting, well, it's sure been a familiar theme in my life. Patience is not a quality easily -- or quickly -- learned. For all we wish it was.

    Lord, give me patience and give it to me now! LOL

    Thanks again, to you and everyone. The tour has been fun, humbling, challenging (especially typing in those weird verification letters to comment; I rarely seem to get 'em right the first time...) and very instructive.

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  3. What a beautiful review! The patience theme is one I could relate to as well, which perhaps is why I didn't find the book preachy. Or, more likely, it's Karen's incredible skill in storytelling that allowed her to weave so much Truth into the tale without the accompanying sledgehammer (dare I call it a gift?).

    I'm guaranteed at least two attempts at typing in the word verification letters. At least they are letters on Blogger - on some sites they're numbers and since I missed the lessons on numbers in typing class ... sigh. Let's see if I can get avsejk on the first try.

    Nope. lfagf?

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