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|The Shadow Within
by Karen Hancock
Published by Bethany House, 2004
Highly recommended by: Shannon McNear
In The Shadow Within, Abramm comes home to Kiriath to claim his crown after the death of his last older brother. His arrival is heralded by a sea-monster hunt of epic proportions, which leaves Abramm open to accusations of sorcery and deceit. Abramm must contend with various family members and nobles, unaware of his fame as a professional fighter and skeptical of his ability to reign, and with trouble on the borders and neighboring countries. Complicating matters is a Chesedhan princess who insists on digging up his past and composing heroic songs of his exploits. But the greatest threat to Abramm and the realm is a creature born of sorcery and malice, blood-bonded to Abramm himself, created to destroy him and open the way for dark forces to control the throne of Kiriath through his younger brother.
At this point, especially after re-reading the story, I've lost all objectivity about Karen Hancock's writing, or her stories, and have become a total fangirl. Though many other CBA authors have been compared to J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, none others have come so close to matching the scope and wonder of these two classic, beloved authors. I was thoroughly drawn into this segment of the tale and found my affections unexpectedly engaged not only by Abramm himself, all over again, but various secondary characters Uncle Simon, Lady Madeleine, and the boy servant, Jared. More depth is given to Abramm's twin sister Carissa, as she must face her lingering rancor over Abramm's spiritual decisions. And the crowning point of the book is a marvel of love, faith, and the power of true fellowship.
It's no surprise that The Shadow Within won the author her third Christy Award for the third year in a row. Along with other dedicated Hancock fans, I wait with bated breath for Shadow Over Kiriath, the next installment of the four-part Legends of the Guardian King, due out November 2005. (October 14, 2005)
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