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4.0 out of 5 stars Book 2 - Adult Quentin & Lawhead �Lite�, 3 July 2001
This review is from: The Dragon King Saga (Dragon King Trilogy) (Paperback)
"The Warlords of Nin" is the second offering of Stephen Lawhead's "Dragon King" Trilogy, following "In the Hall of the Dragon King", an independent story where readers were introduced to the temple servant turned hero Quentin. In volume two of the series, Quentin has matured into a young adult and made his home and studies in Dekra, far away from his beloved Bria. Along with his companion and friend Toli, Quentin heads back to the royal castle at Askelon at the urgent summons of King Eskevar, who detects an impending danger that threatens the empire. All the signs, including the bizarre and ever-brightening Wolf Star, point to a perilous time.
The danger proves to be a serious one indeed: Nin the Destroyer, with his four warlords, and thousands of soldiers. Quentin and Toli escape from the clutches of one of the warlords along with the defector Myrmior, who turns out to be a most helpful ally. Myrmior's cunning and clever strategy does a great deal to slow the advance of the army of Nin, which threatens to overwhelm Askelon. But in the end, victory depends on the fulfilment of an archaic prophecy about a Priest King, who will bring deliverance armed with a mysterious sword known as the "Zhaligheer" or "Shining One". It seems the Quentin is the fabled Priest King, and in obedience to the prophecy, he undertakes a mission to the lost mines of Ariga, along with the armorer Inchkeith, to search for the rare and fabled lanthanil needed to make the sword. Will he accomplish his mission on time? Is he the one of whom the prophecy speaks who will deliver Askelon from its fearsome foes?
"The Warlords of Nin" is a separate story from "In the Hall of the Dragon King", with Quentin, his companions, and his country being the continuous element. The story is filled with breath-taking scenery and medieval conflict. Courageous knights in shining armour, flashing swords, deadly battles, ancient chivalry - it's all here. The conflict between the powers of good and evil is in the end a picture of the great spiritual battle of the ages between the powers of light and darkness, God and Satan. Readers familiar with the battle images used by the apostle Paul in Ephesians 6, will find the connections obvious. The fight for truth, justice, righteousness and good is in many ways portrays the great struggle against evil in world history. The use and tacit endorsement of astrology, oracles, dreams and prophecy in this struggle is somewhat surprising, but could be explained as being reflecting a pre-Christian era, not unlike the time of the Old Testament before the coming of the Messiah. And so it is appropriate that deliverance comes though the fulfilment of prophecies about a Messianic Priest King. Readers familiar with the Bible will find the notion of a Messianic prophecy about a Priest King most recognizable, because this was precisely the case with Jesus Christ. To say that Quentin is Christ-like is to say too much, yet to deny the allusions to Christ's victory for His people is to deny the obvious.
Yet in contrast to the Messianic overtones of Quentin's role in an epic struggle, Lawhead also humanizes Quentin to the point where he is like us, the soldiers in the battle rather than their Deliverer. In the process, Lawhead makes profound observations about personal faith. In the battle, Quentin must learn to trust in the Most High, and be confident that the Most High has plans for him, even when the way is unclear. In total trust, Quentin "should go along with this strange business regardless of my own feelings about it." Says Durwin: "We must not fear for the Most High; he can take care of himself. We must only look to ourselves that we remain faithful to his call." He concludes with an exhortation to faith that applies also to believers in the spiritual war of today: "But if you go beyond your fears and doubts, and follow anyway --ah! strange and wonderful things can happen. Yes, orphans can become kings, swords can sprout flames and great enemies can be laid low at a stroke." (p.282-3)
It is this depth of spiritual vision that makes Lawhead's prose all the more compelling and enjoyable. Although essentially a story, it's a story with the power to impart enduring spiritual truths. No, maybe not to the extent of Lawhead's phenomenal achievement in the "Pendragon Cycle". But that doesn't make this book any less enjoyable, or any less of an achievement.
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