Kiriath has fallen. So begins the Return of the Guardian-King, by multiple-award winning novelist, Karen Hancock. King Abramm Kalladorne trudges through the snows of the high passes in the mountains between Kiriath and Chesdedh with creatures of the Shadows on his heels. At times he despairs of reaching Maddie and their sons who have taken refuge with her family in Chesedh. A shape changer named Tapheina nearly ensnares Abramm, but a friend rescues him. For months, Eidon keeps him snowed in at Caerna'tha, but for what purpose?
Maddie has her own problems. Separated from her sons when fleeing from Abramm's evil brother Gilliard, she has been told that eye witnesses saw Abramm burned to death. Her family pressures her to marry the handsome Sorite prince, Draek Tiris ul Sadek, who has promised her country aid against the Armies of the Black Moon who are attacking them. However, rumors are rife that the child she carries is not Abramm's, and Maddie fears that her brother's wife will try to kill the unborn baby. She has visions of Abramm promising to come to her, but no one believes her when she tells them he is still alive.
While Trapp fights to keep Maddie safe, he has lost all hope that Abramm is still alive. Even when rumors reach him, Trapp no longer believes in the impossible. Part of his hope has been drained by the belief that the Lady Carissa, whom he married to save from shame, cannot love a swordmaster's son. Carissa, meanwhile, pours her love into the baby her evil husband forced on her, the baby who looks so much like Trapp. She knows the virtuous Trapp can never love her because she's so defiled and unworthy.
As Abramm confronts dragons, slavers, and Moroq himself trying to reach Maddie, he also faces the struggle of who will be pre-eminent in his life, Eidon or himself. In spite of betrayal, spoor attacks and Battles with the Black Moon army, Maddie seeks to save her country while being true to Eidon, Abramm, and herself. In the climax of the Legends of the Guardian-King series, Karen Hancock again weaves a powerful story of suspense with plotlines carrying us between Abramm, Maddie, Trapp, and Carissa. She brings the story of Job to her imaginary lands of Kiriath and Chesedh as Moroq receives permission from Eidon to do his worst to Abramm, to take everything from him.
The winner of many awards for this series, Hancock skillfully lifts the characters from one disaster to drop them into another. Though definitely gripping and hard to put down, Return of the Guardian-King is darker than the other books of the series. Also one plotline, that of Simon Kalladorne, Abramm's uncle, and his brother, Gilliard, is touched on, then left until the end, which is a little unusual. In spite of this, Hancock has written another excellent book that her fans will want to rush out to get. Debbie W. Wilson, Christian Book Previews.com