Lying just beneath the surface of our conscious male minds, lies the structural framework of 4 great male archetypes. Each with their own attributes and unique characteristics, our mission is to allow these elements of our being to come to light. To cultivate their growth and imbue our very selves with the spirit and energy of these beings...
No, I wasn't describing the latest Final Fantasy or Pokemon game to you. This is, in fact, the hypothesis postulated by our intrepid authors; Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette. A tantalising one to say the least! Now, any man with a shred of intelligence will of course realise that we don't have a physical manifestation of a king going "get me out of here... I'm being cramped by your stomach and gall bladder", or that we have ghosts inside us ready to possess us... but more that the behaviours intrinsic to the classical male models are present in our instinctive framework. Any notion of an actual king in you is mere imagery to help move the process along (after all, vivid images are easier to grasp than banal ones)
In terms of fundamental principles... it's a delightful, uplifting idea. Not only do our authors say "these are the qualities men should aim for", but they comfort us with the notion that these very qualities are inside of us... we just haven't quite realised it. And for people seeking personal change, this is an excellent thing to encourage. All to often, the mistake in self-help is the focus on looking elsewhere for what we want - overlooking the fact that we have what we need inside of us... meaning that the poor readers engage in a game of trying to attain as many external symbols of success to feel good (be it more money, fast cars, big jobs or notches on their belt)
So as a concept goes... it's delightful. Horribly new agey, which I often despise... but I can't help but love the idea. The authors explain the 4 traits clearly enough to allow you to paint a vivid picture of the traits and character. They also explain the 'Shadow' aspects of the characters well, helping to keep you everything in check and not "overdo" it with the archetypes. This alone makes it a very helpful reference point. Instead of running yourself in circles trying to double-guess your behaviours and what to work on... simply cycle through the 4 archetypes. "Am I working like them?", if not, you know where to place more focus.
The book falls down, however, on its 'how to access the archetypes'. The tactics take 'New Age' to a new level, making me wonder if I need to grow a long beard and start frolicking naked in the forests for them to work. They're novel, but really not of much use unless you're said bearded, naked, frolicking man. Some of the 'evidence' towards the characteristics also get a bit tiresome and are sometimes very tenuous. "We met a kid who wanted to throw himself into the forest. THIS MEANS THAT THIS ARCHETYPE IS REAL!", "A man prayed to the God of love... and got laid. THIS STUFF IS GOOD!"
The way I see it... the book's main use is that it gives a decent framework to what is an abstract idea (how to be a mature masculine male). Take the guides and personality traits, lock them in the back of your mind - and be on your way. Don't waste time getting caught up with trying to 'unleash' the spirits inside you or start talking to them (You get funny looks when you do that). Every now and then, just think "Am I being like a [x]?" and then react accordingly. If the answer is 'no', see if you can find a way to work on it... but don't get too hung up on trying to 'be' them: That's called an 'ego trip' and makes you look like a self-righteous git.