I was helping Micah shop for free ebooks on Amazon so he could read from his iPad when we stumbled across this gem. Many free ebooks on Amazon don't have reviews, so even though they may be categorized as "religious fiction" that doesn't mean that we want to read it. ;) Light of Eidon by Karen Hancock has been around a few years and has plenty of good reviews. I flipped to the first negative/critical review which says, "I hate being tricked into reading about Jesus." I knew right away it was a book we wanted to read. The review still brings a smile to my face!
Light of Eidon is the first book in the Legends of the Guardian-King Series. It is set in a fictional land during a time similar to our middle ages. The protagonist is a prince who is the fifth-born son in his family with no shot at the throne. Feeling rejected by his brothers, and worst of all his father, he leaves the family and joins a religious order as a novitiate. The book begins as his 8-year novitiate term is over and he is about to take an oath to join the Brotherhood. It wouldn't be much of a story if everything went according to plan, now would it? Very quickly a mystery unfolds. The story accelerates to be a page-turner that makes it hard to put down. It is packed with adventure, action, conspiracy and mystery. There were several times where I thought I had the story "figured out" and knew where it was going, but I was wrong. I love it when I can be "gotten" like that!
Light of Eidon is also an allegory. It is quite possibly one of the best allegories that I have ever read. Since I love J.R.R. Tolkien, I tend to side with him slightly on his opinion of allegories...they can be problematic. Too bad Tolkien couldn't have met Karen Hancock. :) I am currently reading along with my Church's Bible Reading plan and we are smack in the middle of 2 Chronicles (chapter 32-33 today). Since I just finished Light of Eidon, the story of the kings of Israel has a pulse it never had before--it was like I added a little salt. I connected with Scriptures in a different way. On the other hand, having a good basis of Scripture--which I firmly believe is inerrant and factual--was a good rock to stand on while reading this fantasy novel. It's easy to get caught up in a good book, especially when that book is a good reflection of the One Good Story. Elise Fitzpatrick says in "Give Them Grace" that every story is a retelling of the One Good Story, just that some stories tell it more closely than others. Since I have read that bit, I have been filtering everything I read through this lens and it has been really interesting to perceive. Light of Eidon is a beautiful retelling of the Gospel and how it touches the lives of not only the protagonist, but of nations. This book is suitable for Christians, and especially for non-Christians--though some might react like the negative reviewer on Amazon, "I hate being tricked into reading about Jesus." Though that's not a bad thing. Seeds are still planted. This book focuses not on the coming of the Messiah. That has already happened long before we enter the story. It is set in a world that has many different religions. Which one is right? The religions presented in Light of Eidon have similarities to religions in our world today.
This book is not, however, appropriate for the younger crowd. There is a lot of fighting and blood. There are descriptions of decapitations, sores, descriptions of evil, etc. I know that readers will be limited by their own imaginations in "seeing" these things, but it's still words and it still reaches into the heart. There is also a thread of romance in the story. There is one scene that made me squirm in my seat, and before I knew where it was going I was worried it would ruin my ability to recommend this book. If stories of romance cause you to falter in purity, then you may want to pass this book up, or at least commit to skipping those pages (it is not long). It didn't go where I thought it would go, and it was a lesson that is useful for teaching. But I still recommend it with reservations. I recommend it for mature teens and adults.
I don't know how long the book will be free on Amazon, so check it out soon. We were able to pick up the next books in the series at our local library.