Wednesday, April 18, 2007

CSFF Blog Tour Day 3 - Karen Hancock

Hi all:

Scroll down my blog to see my reviews of the first two books in the "Legends of the Guardian-King" series. Today I'll post my review of the third book, Shadow Over Kiriath. This review first appeared on Infuze Magazine.

Full disclosure requires me to reveal that I received Karen Hancock's Shadow Over Kiriath compliments of the publisher. In other words, I did not pay the $13.99 cover price for the privilege of continuing Abramm Kalladorne's adventures in the Legends of the Guardian-King. Still I feel fully justified in declaring that this novel gives every purchaser/reader his or her money's worth.

This well-told tale runs from cover to cover with no blank pages before the title page and no white space at the end of the postlude on page 464. In between the text is stacked. And what meaningful text it is.

Hancock continues to survey and populate the geography she created in the series' first two books: Light of Eidon and The Shadow Within. This is a world as vivid as Narnia where the god is called Eidon, his son Tersius, and the powers of his spirit are more physically and magically manifested than in 21st century Earth. But where truth is still Truth.

In countries called Kiriath, Chesedh, and Esurh, the inhabitants ride horses, fight with swords and cannons, sail on wooden ships and slave galleys, hold royal receptions, and revere their kings. They also try to shut down etherworld corridors created by dark magic, keep border lords in line, and slay ancient beasts such as kraggins and morwhols. This universe has all the stuff of legends.

And yet in this world, sin is still sin whether it's premarital sex or belittling a peer in public. More convicting, the prideful human tendency to feel guiltier over the former than the latter is given its rightful comeuppance. As does the notion that some specific sin we commit is so great that we must punish ourselves to in some way make up for it--as if Tersius' sacrifice wasn't enough. Another weighty theological theme that Hancock handles well is that of human free will over against (or is it under against) Eidon's sovereign will. I don't mean to give the impression that these legends are merely thinly-veiled discussions of theological matters. No. Like Narnia, Middle-Earth, or Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry, this world is rich and detailed, the tales are complex and thrilling, and the characters full-blooded, flawed, and heroic.

As jam-packed and meaningful as the pages of Shadow over Kiriath are, however, I must admit that Part Four seems like an add-on section that perhaps should have been Part One of the next book--if there is going to be another book. There is no indication that there will be a fourth book in the series, which would be a huge disappointment if true. Shadow over Kiriath ends like The Empire Strikes Back and positively begs a better conclusion to Abramm's legend.

After the thrilling adventures of the first three sections, which continue the soaring saga from the first two books, Part Four leaves the reader deflated and anxious. All is not lost, but it's pretty bleak. Please, Ms. Hancock, tell us there is another.

When this review appeared originally on the old Infuze, there were several comments, including one from Karen Hancock herself, assuring us that there would be a final book.

And that book is now here. It's called Return of the Guardian-King and it's what this 3-day blog tour has been celebrating.

My review will be appearing soon at Title Trakk. But in the meantime, visit Karen's website and blog to learn more from the author herself.

Thanks for a great series, Karen. Looking forward to the next one!

But no pressure ...



Becky said...

Great reviews. Thanks for reprising them for us. And I had the same reaction to the ending of the third book that you did. After reading Karen's comments in her interviews, I think I understand why she wrote it that way. Still, it didn't feel like the right place to end.


hrh said...

Thanks for stopping by, Becky. I'm glad we have Book Four now to properly finish Abramm's story. I remember when 3 came out, there wasn't any indication of another book. Which would have been tragic ... at least for readers.

What a fun tour this has been, eh? :)