Karen Hancock’s four-part series, “Legends of the Guardian-King,” opens with the Christy Award-winning novel The Light of Eidon. TLoE is the second book by Hancock, who debuted in 2002 with Arena, a science fiction novel. Now she shifts to fantasy, delivering sword and sorcery along with Christian allegory. The Light of Eidon is a strong opening installment to this series.
“Legends of the Guardian-King” is set in the kingdom of Kiriath, a land which bears a strong resemblance to medieval England. Here begins the spiritual journey of Abramm Kalladorne, the next-to-youngest son in Kiriath’s royal family. As the story begins, twenty-one year-old Abramm has been away from the palace for eight years, having renounced his royal heritage to pursue the religious life as a member of a priesthood known as the Mataio. Now known as Brother Eldrin, the young Kalladorne has spent this time studying to become a Guardian of the Holy Flames at the priesthood’s temple.
Since leaving the palace, Abramm’s father has died along with the four eldest sons, leaving Abramm’s brother Raynen to rule the kingdom. King Raynen and Trap Meridon, a captain in the royal armies, attempt to convince Abramm that the Mataio are a cult, and that his longtime spiritual mentor has been using him as a means to gain political power for the priesthood. When he discovers the truth, Abramm flees the temple aided by Meridon. Before he can get very far, the young prince is betrayed in similar fashion to Joseph in the book of Genesis as his brothers Raynen and Gillard ship him and Meridon out of the kingdom and sell him into slavery. Gillard, the youngest brother, has despised Abramm since childhood. He convinces the king that this move is for the best, protecting both the crown and Abramm from the Mataio. Gillard, however, has plans of his own in regard to the throne of Kiriath.
In the land of Esurh, a gamer named Katahn trains Abramm and Meridon to fight in games reminiscent of ancient Rome’s gladiator fights. Here, the pacifistic prince is forced to fight in order to survive. As he becomes more successful in the games, his popularity grows, especially among the Dorsaddi who believe Abramm may be the “Deliverer” prophesied to liberate them from their Esurhite conquerors.
Working alongside Meridon in the games also allows Abramm to learn more about the captain’s Terstan faith. The Terstans worship Eidon, the same god the Mataio profess to serve. But while the Mataian religion is rigid and legalistic, the Terstans believe the sacrifice of Eidon’s son, Tersius, for the atonement of Man’s sins and his resurrection have made Eidon accessible to anyone and everyone who seeks him. Abramm must also wrestle with feelings of betrayal after being used by the Mataio, as well as anger toward Eidon in regard to his circumstances, sometimes questioning if Eidon even exists.
The Light of Eidon is a fascinating read, and an excellent first installment to Hancock’s series. I recommend this book not only for Christians, but for any fans of fantasy fiction regardless of their faith background. “Legends of the Guardian-King” is a fascinating series, and I’m eager to continue reading. I am certainly looking forward to reading the second book, The Shadow Within.