The Hand That Bears the Sword by George Bryan Polivka
Read in September, 2008
This book picks up a few weeks after the previous book (The Legend of the Firefish) back in the village of Hangman’s Cliffs. Panna and Packer are married and halfway through their “honey month” (similar to our more familiar honeymoon). A herald arrives directly from the King, specifically requesting Packer’s presence for the reading of a proclamation – a call to arms of all able-bodied men to defend Nearing Vast from the invading warriors of Drammune.
Packer is swept away again on another adventure, one not of his choosing and often broiled in political intrigue and manipulation. His conscience is at odds with his superiors’ (and peers’) perception of him as a hero. Panna is also subjected to manipulation and danger from the most unlikely of sources – her own sovereign prince. She stands her ground with conviction and faith.
The welcome surprise (or twist) for me was the return of Talon, whom we were lead to believe had perished in the first novel. Polivka has an uncanny ability to write strong women characters, something few male authors can convince me of. While Talon was the embodiment of evil in the first novel, she is a changed woman now. She discovers true love in humility and experiences the hidden power in weakness from another’s sacrifice.
The entire nation of Nearing Vast, the supposed faithful, seem to represent all the is reprehensible to their faith. And on the other hand, the Drammune Empire is strong, conquering and apparently invincible, washing over the Vast fleet and later it’s army in the capital city of Mann. It’s a vast stage (pun intended) upon which we ponder “Is God testing Nearing Vast?”
For Christian fiction, this is a great story, without being preachy, putting real people in believable dire situations and watching them struggle, in all too human ways, with their faith and the consequences of their actions, both temporally and spiritually.
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