Plot Summary: Abramm, the fifth son of the king of Kiriath, has little chance of ever becoming king. He has never taken to sword training and or exhibited interest in the kingdom’s issues, focusing his attention instead on spiritual matters. Having studied for eight years to become a priest of Eidon, he longs to know his God more fully. But there seems to be something sinister afoot when the people around him that he trusted the most are not what they seem. Thrust into a world of slavery and gladiator arenas, Abramm has no hope of surviving. Even Eidon seems to have abandoned him, but yet there seems to be a purpose to his suffering. How will Abramm endure betrayal, pain, and heartache in a foreign land filled with magic and evil?
My Book Review: I don’t often read fantasy, but not because I dislike the genre. Rather, I have a hard time finding fantasy stories with original plots. Most can be summed up in one predictable sentence: a peasant boy goes on a quest/journey and discovers he is actually a prince, whose coming has been foretold in prophecy as the one who will defeat the dark lord of the country. It is interesting that though this plotline is found in many secular books, it’s theme is inherently Christian. BUT. Even though the original Story will always be fresh and new because it’s true, exact allegorical spinoffs are predictable and wornout from overuse, in my opinion. That’s why I’m always keeping an eye out for original fantasy stories that aren’t cut from the same cookie cutter mold. Also, I avoid reading teen fiction fantasy just because those don’t interest me as well as adult or children’s classics.
I found what I was looking for in The Light of Eidon, by Karen Hancock. A good-sized novel with 43 chapters, this book had a lot to offer me and hit the spot. A top-notch, satisfying adventure with great twists and turns and in no way predictable! It’s hard to describe it simply, but if I had to I would say it is a mishmash of Ben-Hur/multiple bible stories/Reformation/creepy cult thriller/ancient Rome/1700’s royal court/ancient Petra/Star Wars/medieval times. Does that make any sense?
There are many things I loved about this book. The descriptions are fabulous and fully stimulated my imagination with colors, costumes, light, cultures, landscapes and sounds. I absolutely loved the diverse cultures the author dreamed up to put between the covers of one book, and as this is the first in a series, I can’t wait to see what awaits me in the next three adventures! I’ve been going through a bit of a dry spell in my reading life lately, but this satisfied me and reawakened my interest again.
Another thing I really loved was the wonderfully deep theology the author packs into this novel. No, it’s not a Pilgrim’s Progress with every element being an apples-to-apples equation, but it’s also not subtle “Lord of the Rings” in that Light of Eidon more blatantly carries the Gospel message. One sees snippets of bible stories planted like Easter eggs within the scope of this epic adventure, if you know how to look (stories like Joseph, Elijah and the Prophets of Baal, David and Goliath, etc.). But more than that, this story is fully rooted in good sound biblical doctrine, even down to small details. One such small detail concerns the shields that converts called Terstans wear. When one has accepted the light of Eidon, a glowing shield miraculously appears on the Terstan’s chest. When a whole village in Sahal gains the shield, they then dispose of the temporary ones they had worn for centuries until the real ones were given them. I loved these parallels to my own Christian faith! It helped me see the Gospel in a brighter, more beautiful, magical way. [Gasp! Yes, I mean magical… as in supernatural 🙂 ]
Is this book preachy? Yes and no. Yes, it preaches the gospel even while exchanging names, etc. for an allegorical, fantasy world. I appreciated that the plot revolves around the Gospel itself instead of a romance. But if you mean preachy as in pushing morals down one’s throat, I did not consider it that way. If you are a person who loves the Lord, I think you will come to appreciate the beauty of the story rather than feeling oppressed by it. If one is not, I’m not sure how it would be interpreted.
SPOILER: There is a part of the story where Abramm finds himself in a distant land surrounded by temptations. In his previous home country, he had done all he could do to serve his God Eidon by keeping all the rules and paying penance for the ones he broke. But now, feeling utterly abandoned by a God he’s not sure exists anymore, he breaks all the rules he’d sworn to uphold. He falls in love, and in a night of passion does something he later loathes himself for. It does not get very graphic, but I did choose to skim-read/skip it for my own personal reasons. However, I appreciate that the author was trying to portray a character who finds no good in himself and must come to the end of himself before he will be rid of his pride and accept the righteousness of Tersius in his stead. END OF SPOILER.
For all that I loved about this book, there is one thing that I can think of that would have made it even better, and that is that I would liked to have felt more emotionally connected with the characters. I’m not sure how this escaped me, but I felt a little disconnected from them. Also, it would be nice if Abramm hadn’t puked every other chapter! 🙂
But it all made for one great adventure tale, and I’d highly recommend it! I can’t wait to read more from this author!