The final part of the "Dragon King" trilogy by author Stephen Lawhead is called The Sword and the Flame, and picks up about 10 years after The Warlords of Nin. In this whole period life in the realm of Mensandor has been entirely peaceful and productive. Quentin as become a popular and servant-minded king, his beautiful wife stands forever by his side, and with two sweet daughters and a 10 year old boy, his life has become a reverie. The tale begins as Quentin organizes a royal hunt, a time when the whole populace is invited to the castle to take part in a great festival. It is to be the first that prince Gerin will take part in, as he has been working with Quentin's faithful friend and minister Toli, to learn how to ride a horse. However, a sinister force is a work behind the scenes, developing a plan to kill Toli. An act of revenge that has been developed for over 20 years by the evil wizard Nimrood who was vanquished in the In the Hall of the Dragon King.
Nimrood has joined with the local pagan high priest and convinced him to join in this plan to kill Toli so that he might humble the king who has been turning the people toward worship of the one true God, the most high. However, the temple guard fails to carry out the charge, and instead kills the king's foremost advisor and kidnaps the prince. Quentin in his rage and his anxiousness to recover his son, uses his blessed sword to strike down one of the fleeing temple guards. In his shame he throws down the sword and shuts himself off from his people. However, when his adversaries learn that he no longer holds the blessed sword, which they believe is the possession of the true king of the land, they beset Quentin and attempt to take power. Meanwhile, Nimrood has demanded an exchange from the king. The sword for the boy. In five days time, if the sword is not delivered and the king does not kneel before him, Gerin will be sacrificed. In short order the kingdom begins to crumble into squabbling and disarray. Will our hero step up or is he too broken to do what needs to be done?
A wonderful story that I very much enjoyed. A superb way to end this epic tale.