I've absolutely loved this series. From the very first book, I've been hooked. You may remember that a few months ago, when I came across the cover art for this final installment of the series, I posted it on this blog and gushed about how excited I was and how I couldn't wait for April to get here so I could get my grubby little hands on the book and find out what happened to Abramm, Maddie, and the land of Kiriath.
This book makes a wonderful cap to an excellent fantasy series. Hancock's world is rich and evocative and you can tell that she did a lot of work on the backstory for the world, giving it a detailed history that she only hints at (and is really all she had to do). The relationships in the book are fascinating, especially the bizarre romance between Trap and Carissa (I don't want to say too much more than that). When I set down the book after devouring it, I was, for the most part, satisfied.
But not completely.
It pains me to admit this, but I thought the ending kind of fizzled. At first, I couldn't place my finger on it, but after reflecting on it for a few hours, I realized what the problem was. Just as a warning, if you haven't read the books, you might want to skip down to the links of other participants. I'll try to avoid the spoilers as much as I can, but I'll have to inevitably reveal some stuff to explain my slight disappointment.
The problem with the way this story ended lies in the conflict between Abramm and his younger brother Gillard. Throughout the series, it's been made clear that Abramm and Gillard don't like each other. Throughout the series, this conflict grew and grew until, in Shadow Over Kiriath, it reached an explosive climax. Gillard seemed to triumph in a major way (I want to say how, but personally, I hate spoilers, so I'll try to refrain).
All throughout Return of the Guardian King, I was looking forward to the final showdown between Abramm and Gillard. I was expecting some grand final clash between Terstan and Mataio as Abramm reclaimed what was lost. At the very least, I was expecting more of the story to focus on Gillard and what was happening in Kiriath.
But that's not what happened. Instead, after only a brief appearance in the beginning of the book, Gillard disappears until almost the end. After that, no conflict, no confrontation, just a series of deus ex machina moments that, to me, fell kind of flat.
Now I know what Karen Hancock was going after. I personally loved the allusions to Job that were woven throughout the book and given those themes, the ending tied in well with them. And maybe I'm guilty of "Monday morning quarterbacking" here but I would have done things differently.
All of this doesn't mean that I didn't like the book. Far from it. I loved this book and I would enthusiastically recommend it to anyone (along with the other three books, namely Light of Eidon, The Shadown Within, and Shadow Over Kiriath). It's just that instead of an absolute perfect end, it had a good ending. In my opinion. There we go.
Go check out the other blog tour participants to see what they have to say:Nissa Annakindt
Wayne Thomas Batson
CSFF Blog Tour
D. G. D. Davidson
Kameron M. Franklin
Heather R. Hunt
Lost Genre Guild
Kevin Lucia and The Bookshelf Reviews 2.0 - The Compendium
Rebecca LuElla Miller
John W. Otte
Tsaba House Authors
Daniel I. Weaver
Tomorrow, I'm planning on discussing Ms. Hancock's depiction of Christianity in the series. But by far, Wednesday's post should be the most interesting. I'm tentatively entitling the post "Sin boldly." Why? Come back and see.