There are a number of great things to be said about this book--unique and engaging characters, an imaginative story world, and a story line filled with intrigue and action. But I feel the strongest aspect of this novel is how real it feels; everything is thought through and filled out, which made it quite easy for me to forget I was reading a novel. It is this fullness that I think is part of what drew Library Journal's comparison to Tolkien. Unlike Tolkien, however, Williamson doesn't risk bogging her readers down with too much detail. My only real complaint about this book is that it took a few pages for the story to grab me; I like to get sucked into the story right off the bat. But it didn't take too long for the story to take off. In summary, I loved By Darkness Hid, and I think it would make a terrific movie. But my anticipation for book two pushes all dreams of a film version to the back of my mind.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book cover to cover, I was drawn in the most by Achan, as he was the first character introduced to us. Also there is something in him that relates more to people and strikes their heart strings about him. I think everyone can relate in some way to Achan. Vrell was harder to be drawn to by the 2nd book I was hooked. The characters are so rich with emotion and strengths. The storyline was excellent, I could sorta guess what was going to happen next, but I was still on my toes.
The style of writing was engaging. And the length of the book was perfect as I love long books. I would definitly recommend this to anybody who will listen
By Darkness Hid pulled me into the story from the very beginning. While some might think it a formidable read (nearly 500 pages long), I didn't even notice as I flew through the pages and completed it in a day. (Granted, I did lose a bit of sleep - but I did NOT want to put it down!) I don't really care for the fantasy genre, but this book was amazing. I can understand why it won the Christy award!
The plot was intricate and complex and it doesn't clean them all up nice and neat by the last page. Oh no. When you read the last page, Jill leaves things hanging and characters in danger, making you wonder how Achan and Vrell are ever going to get out of such a sticky situation.
Achan was a character I really grew to appreciate. Even though he was a "stray" - a branded people who were lower than slaves and treated worse than animals - he was chivalrous, kind, hardworking, and heroic. Achan's forbidden love was sad. And the personal sacrifice he gave to her must have been so hard to do. Growing up in a world where everyone saw "strays" as beasts of burden, it must have been heartbreaking for him to discover his lover was being betrothed to another. I can understand his desire to run away with her - to find a place where they could live where people didn't look down at him for being a stray.
I loved the complicity of Vrell's situation - a seventeen year old girl running from a forced marriage, masquerading as a fourteen year old "stray" boy. I found it amusing whenever she accidently said something too proper for a stray, behaved more feminine than a boy would, or had to evade bathing with the other men. That would be a hard charade to keep up! As Vrell went through her trying adventures and continued her masquerade, she changed and matured in several ways. I kept cheering for her as she came to Achan's aid and helped him understand the powers of his own gift.
The `gift' I keep referring to is known as `bloodvoicing'. It's where people with this gift can read peoples thoughts or communicate with other bloodvoicers. It took some time for me to get used to this idea, but once I grew comfortable with this well-known ability in the kingdom of Er'Rets, I was caught up in Achan and Vrell's experience as they learned how to use their gift.
As I concluded the book, I found myself already wishing I had the sequel sitting on my nightstand, ready to be instantly picked up after I read the final page of By Darkness Hid. Jill Williamson has weaved together an intriguing beginning for the Blood of Kings series and I can't wait to discover what lies ahead of Achan and Vrell as they enter Darkness. If you are able to get this book, you won't be disappointed with this wonderful story.
I received this book from the author in exchange for writing this review. It was not required that I give a positive review, but solely to express my own thoughts and opinions of this book, which I have done.
Achan of Cham is a stray just fighting to live life, and hoping one day to be able to marry the girl he loves_..when suddenly, his life is turned upside down. An ex-King's Guard warrior takes a shine to him, and takes him as his squire. Life is looking up, he has hope of one day being something more than a stray, hope to someday marry Gren and hope to have a real life besides servitude. But in a matter of days his hopes are crushed leaving him with nothing. Even Sir Gavin seems to have deserted him without word. And the voices, what of the voices? His momentary lapse in morning tonic seemed to allow the cacophony of voices to pummel his head, who are they, and what do they want?
Vrell Sparrow is a young skittish boy grateful to be able to work in the apothecaryâ€” but that's just what â€˜he' is on the outside. But inside the worn and boyish trappings she's a seventeen year old girl in hiding from a man who would marry her in force to seize her, and her mother's lands. But when her mistress is traveling and two imposing armed men come for himâ€”for her, she has no way of getting out of leaving her hiding place without giving away who and what she is. Her new master wishes for her to come into contact with a bloodvoicer they hear, but only sporadically. What will she find?
This story by Jill Williamson is definitely epic fantasy. The story is woven wonderfully and the flow of the book carries you along almost against your wishes, hurtling you towards the end. The characters were varied, definite, and touching. The double viewpoint was a blast to read through! It made even situations that might be boring for one, totally fun to read in the others' perspective. The writing was a great blend of description and plot, but not bogging me down unnecessarily while definitely painting the scene. With all the different angles on this book, political, bloodvoicing, Vrell's hiding, it was a masterful first book for Mrs. Williamson sure to suck other readers in like it did me!