Where to start, where to start!
How do I describe a tale that surges with life and sings of beauty and goodness?
One that puts down roots deep into your heart and then spreads out and fills your imagination?
Well, as I said in my review of The Traitor's Heir, I do not compare fantasy books to Tolkien's.
There are so many attempts to reproduce LOTR, and none of them work.
Anna Thayer, our author, lectures on the work of C. S and JRR. She was clearly influenced by their prose and poetry, but she did not try to retell their stories. She tells her own story of a world and a hero, and she tells it with passion. And now this is my favorite fantasy series since Narnia and LOTR.
In some fantasies, the clash between good and evil is so large that the individuals are lost. Not so here.
By the end of this second volume, you will have read over 1,000 pages about Eamon Goodman. His growth as a human and as a Hand, step by step, with falling and faltering, makes you love him. The maturity he acquires and the way he grows into his role- loving the King while serving a city under throned rule- gives depth to his character. Eamon becomes a servant to become a leader.
His comrades (Anderas and Ladomer, Callum and Mr Bellis) and enemies are also well drawn. Each one, noble or evil, keeps his dignity, and his deeds speak for him.
The city of Dunthruik is a microcosm of all humanity. It teems with people, all needing work, needing food, needing care, needing hope. The systems that run the city promote poverty and crime, and they punish without justice. The Master rules by force and fear, and the city bleeds dry under his rule.
How could this captive and oppressed people not respond to news of a coming King, one who will set them free and establish peace? But how can Eamon tell them about the King, when the punishment is death?
And how can he not tell them, because there are fates worse than death and life under the throned is one of them.
Obviously, there are people who will avoid this series because it has been called an allegory.
I say this: If you recognize Christ in this book, it is because both He and the King overflow with truth, beauty, and goodness. (That's the essence of the Gospel after all, the news that a good King is coming.)
This is a fine story for anyone who wants to read it, simply because it is a story that resonates in us as real, and adventurous, and it affirms all that is right.
Thank you very much to Lion Hudson Publishing for my review copy.
It is a wonderful feeling to look at my bookshelf and see this series there, waiting for a reader to
Anna Thayer (née Slack) graduated from the University of Cambridge with first class honours in 2005 before living and teaching in Sicily for two years. She writes and lectures internationally on the works of fantasists J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis, and has edited a volume of essays on the latter’s work.