Christian Fantasy. What comes to mind? For many, the first word to pop up is, â€œContradiction.â€ If youâ€™re sold on Fantasy as a genre being wicked prima facie, Karen Hancockâ€™s novel Return of the Guardian-King (Legends of the Guardian-King #4) probably wonâ€™t be able to persuade you otherwise, even if the publisher has classified the genre as â€œAllegory.â€
And it is, but if youâ€™re in this group, youâ€™ll still take issue. Whether you insist his name is Yahweh or Jehovah, it will bother you, as has me, that she changed Godâ€™s name to â€œEidonâ€ that this is Greek for â€œI sawâ€ will not improve matters. Hancock could sit down and write out an explanation detailing every Christian allegory in the book, and even if her arguments for the validity of her chosen symbols were so compelling, you could think of no response to them, you would come back with an attack accusing her, in so many words, of blasphemy for setting an allegory in the tradition of Pilgrimâ€™s Progress in a Tolkien-esque epic.
If, however, you loved Tolkien, and appreciated Pilgrimâ€™s Progress, but thought it a tad too obvious, I suspect you will be absolutely delighted to find both married in this novel, if you havenâ€™t already discovered it. You wonâ€™t be phased in the least that the copy editor missed a few things. You wonâ€™t be bothered by the exposition/telling. You probably wonâ€™t read too deeply into the allegorical elements.
Normally, I would discuss the theology, but I am not familiar enough with fantasy, or the series, to dissect this one.
Itâ€™s mentioned, for instance, that Carissa was married to someone else before she married her current husband, and that the previous husband raped her after their divorce, but it does not state the reason.
My gut reaction instinct is the reason was abuse, which certainly may be reason to live apart from a spouse, but despite the predominant view in the protestant church ,I have not found a plain scripture where abuse alone is mentioned as freeing a woman to remarry. As sheâ€™s already remarried, and for all I know, her ex-husband committed adultery as well, and the bible also gives indication a remarried woman should honor her vows to her current husband and not return to her first even though she did commit adultery in remarrying, though women in such situations do need to confess their sin to God and get the past under the blood of Christ so they can be blessed in their current marriage.
Over all, though, while I enjoyed the allegory surrounding the light and the various demonic beasts, creatures, and sicknesses, and at the end grew more appreciative of her inserting a kind of crystal ball to contrast this demonic device against the Godly visions, I simply am not up to dissecting this one theologically. My apologies.
But, in terms of literature, Hancock certainly knows how to keep her reader guessing, and managed to make believable a situation with two spouses madly in love falling apart because both thinks the other only sees it as a marriage of convenience and are too busy respecting each otherâ€™s non-views to tell their spouse they badly want to consummate this marriage.
If Christian Fantasy/Allegory is your genre of choice, let me end with one suggestion: Start with book one. I felt lost more often than was comfortable.