Bear Knight (Book Review)

  • Author: James R. Hannibal
  • Lightraider Academy website
  • Publisher: Enclave Publishing
  • Releases Feb. 14th (Pre-Order Now!)
  • Synopsis: Conor and his fellow cadets, now joined by Kara Orso, continue to wage war on the powers of evil, while awaiting their assignments at the Turning of the Spheres.
  • Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of the book from the publisher. Opinions expressed are my own.

Scripture Connection

My enemies will retreat when I call to You for help. This I know: God is on my side!

Psalm 56: 10

Spiritual Themes

I praise God because I asked Him to speak to me through this book and He did! This book was so encouraging, to me. Although the author explores many spiritual themes and references dozens of Scriptures, I chose the above verse because of how well it melds with the plot of the book. Over and over, the characters encounter the forces of darkness and cry out to the Rescuer. Over and over, he delivers, and Hannibal makes it abundantly clear that the characters do not have an inherent capacity for victory. Their strength and deliverance is from the Rescuer.

  • In addition to the theme of rescue, Bear Knight also displays the beautiful glory of redemption, alongside forgiveness.
  • Characters are always praying, and these prayers are typically taken right out of Scripture.
  • As in book one, we see a physical manifestation of the Armor of God, as the Helper (the term Jesus used for the Holy Spirit) equips His children for battle. (Jesus is referred to as the Blacksmith).
  • Each of the four sections also begins with a key verse as an epigraph.


Bear Knight is the sequel to Wolf Soldier in the Lightraider Academy series. This book is NOT a standalone. In fact, I would encourage others to read the books as closely together as possible, because the book really jumps right in where book one left off.

What I Liked

I’m so glad that James R. Hannibal was the one to write this book. Ordinarily, it’s a given that the author would “be the one” to write a book, since he is also the creator of the storyline. In the case of the Lightraider Academy books, the premise originated differently, as the book series is based on a Christian roleplaying game, DragonRaid.

With that said, I am indeed glad that Hannibal is the writer of the series, because he is such a skilled craftsman. He has this way of drawing me along as I read, and then I get near the end and do a double-take: Wait? What did you just pull on me? I’m not sure if I would enjoy the books nearly as much if someone else had written them.

As mentioned above, the Scripture references are simply littered throughout the text. I could probably flip to a page at random and find a verse (or several verses) excerpted within the chapter. I found this to be deeply encouraging, as well as helpful. As I traveled alongside the characters, watching their battles and witnessing their prayers, the verses took on a more clear, practical meaning in the context of the story. Although I probably won’t be doing battle with a granog, anytime soon, I see many examples of crying out, when faced with my own “granogs.” Overall, the verses became more real to me.

Although I will occasionally read books with magic, especially if it is presented as a gift from the creator (such as in To Be Called Worthy), I am very sensitive to content, both in and out of fiction, where people gain specific powers by saying specific words. Even when those words are prayers, it feels close to witchcraft, to me. With that said, I can see that this is not the author’s intent in the Lightraider books. While the characters did utter specific phrases in specific circumstances, it felt more like a liturgy: taking comfort and strength in God’s words and promises. Characters knew that their words wouldn’t force the Rescuer’s hand.

Name Discussion (SPOILERS)

This is quite possibly conjecture, but after my experience reading The Paris Betrayal I am very watchful for allegory/retelling with this author… He does say not to get “bogged down” in the allegory, in the Author’s Note, but Hannibal’s work is thought-provoking and I do like to trace significant meanings.

Connor Enarian is introduced as a shepherd, a pretty standard biblical occupation, in book one. Add that to the fact that he’s from a royal bloodline in part two and I’m making associations with King David. As an aside, I also just learned that Conor can mean “lover of wolves,” and a name that is very close to Faelin means “little wolf.” Kara, appropriately enough, means “beloved,” while Teegan refers to a “little poet.” Orso, as I suspected, means “bear.”

End of Spoilers

Back of Book Resources

Following the text of the story, there is an appendix of additional resources: First, a phonetic list of names for pronunciation cues, then a list of locations with descriptions of their defining characteristics, and finally a glossary of terms. Had I utilized it, the glossary would have been helpful in jogging my memory of book one, as it defines the various enemy creatures (i.e., golmog, wraith), among other things.

Following the appendixes, there are instructions for playing the game “Vanquish,” a game we watch the characters playing on a pool table. My copy of the book, from the Lightraiders store, also came with two starlots: multi-sided dice.

After the game directions, there’s a note from the author. As in book one, there’s a discussion, among other topics, about how the Scriptures are not being used as spells and Rescuer chooses how to use His power.

Discussion Questions

Discussion Questions are not included in the book. However, this is my hint to the publisher that I think they would be a great thing to include with subsequent releases. There is so much fodder for discussion in the books, not to mention a ton of Scripture to think about.


The one content note pertains to my favorite part of the book, which is the Scriptures. Because of the way they are used in specific contexts, I think this could be valuable fodder for discussion, in terms of the fact that these verses are not spells, but practical applications AND that the Rescuer decides how and when to act.

Recommendation Status

I read in one of Hannibal’s biographic statements that he seeks to write Christian fiction for boys. Prior to reading that, I hadn’t realize what a gap there is, in publishing those titles. While I feel comfortable recommending Bear Knight to boys and girls, alike, I would especially recommend it for a male audience. There are a lot of battle scenes, which made parts of the book slower for me, as a female reader.

I’m so grateful that Hannibal writes for boys and I’m even more grateful for the rich Scriptural references embedded, throughout. This is a title I gladly recommend.

Published by Stephaniesninthsuitcase

Hi, there! My name is Stephanie and I’m a Fresno, CA native. After studying at Biola University, I received my MLIS (Masters in Library Science) from San Jose State University. I live with my mom, poet Kimberly Vargas Agnese, and serve as her unofficial agent. We reside at MeadowArc, a food forest in its infancy. I am called to, and passionate about, purity. In fact, the name Agnes means “pure.” Before I was born, my mom felt led to include the name Agnes in her name, and in the names of her children. My full, hyphenated name includes 26 letters (but not the whole alphabet).

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