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TellNJasmineMontanaAge: 25-34Gender: female4 Stars Out Of 5Epic fantasy begins...May 12, 2016TellNJasmineMontanaAge: 25-34Gender: femaleQuality: 5Value: 4Meets Expectations: 5And so begins Jill Williamson's epic tale of fantasy. Lands are in ruins, natural disasters are terrifying to say they least, mysterious prophecies maybe being fulfilled, and the sons of an aging king vie for his favor in being named Heir. The lives of disparate characters are linked together in known and unknown ways. The lands they live in are harsh and the wills of the various gods are unbending and unmerciful.
Wow, Darkness Reigns was quite a start to the King's Folly tale. It is a fairly short and quick read, short at only around 160 pages, and quick because you really don't want to put it down. This is only the first part in this epic story and I can only imagine what will come next.
I would add that this is more of an adult story, or older teens, versus YA. With more mature themes Darkness Reigns will catch the attention of longtime fantasy fans looking for a new and exciting read.
(I received a copy of this e-book from the author in exchange for my review. All opinions are entirely my own.)
EmilyAnne285 Stars Out Of 5First Installment of a new Fantasy!January 14, 2016EmilyAnne28Quality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5Darkness Reigns tells of a continent with countries overrun by evilhuman sacrifices, conniving rulers, and false gods. People say the horrible natural disasters that have wiped cities off the map are part of the gods wrath. But nobody knows for sure. Instead, they are caught up in politics: the king of Armania will die soon, and one of his three sons must be named heir or the country will be split into civil war. Not to mention the tenuous allegiances with the neighboring countries
Darkness Reigns is the first installment of a three-episode serial book written by Jill Williamson. It introduces the characters and countries (including a list of the five nations, four main characters, and dozens of minor characters) as well as the plotline. It did not go much farther than showing the major problems of the countries, the characters plans, and the mysteries that will be solved through the course of the episodes. That said, the author did an excellent job of introducing everyone and everything, and I look forward to hearing the rest of the story. So many problems to solve!
Darkness Reigns was aptly named. So much of the novel was focused on the darkness of the world. What happened to the God in The Blood of Kings Series that was set chronologically later in this same world? Instead, dozens of lower gods demand human sacrifices and creepy rituals, often involving drugs. This is not a book for the faint at heart! Although, the author does try to make it as appropriate as possible, considering the circumstances. And speaking of appropriate, the kings and princes also have harems and concubines
So, who should be king? (The Sars (princes) personalities are shown early in the story, so sharing them here is not a spoiler.) Wilek is a good man; not perfect, but well-meaning, with the countrys benefit in mind. Janek is a good-for-nothing who is cruel and parties all the time. Those two are the oldest sons and are in their twenties. Trevn, a teen having just reached the age of adulthood, is also one of the options. He is curious and introspective; although he does not want to become king, he would probably make a great one, just as Wilek would. How can one decide?
Darkness Reigns is extremely interesting. I have very little idea how everything will come together, and I look forward to finding it out in the next two installments. I would recommend this book to older teens and college-age adults who enjoy dark-ish, Christian fantasy. Although it has not shown the Christian side yet, I have little doubt that it will very soon.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
CrazyWriter944 Stars Out Of 5A Worthy Beginning to a Gripping Epic Fantasy SeriesDecember 18, 2015CrazyWriter94Quality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 4First off, I read a digital ARC of this book which I received in exchange for an honest review. Honesty is important to me, and I have given less-than-glowing reviews of review copies before, so trust when I say that the following opinions are in no way coerced.
I've been a fan of Jill's books basically for as long as I've been aware of their existence. 'By Darkness Hid' was the first one I put on my wishlist, and also the first one I read, so the world and the characters are very close to my heart. I'm a die-hard fantasy fan, and especially Christian fantasy, which Jill writes masterfully. So I was, shall we say, rather intrigued when I found out that Jill was going to release another fantasy series. I was just a bit excited when I got the opportunity to read the first installment before its public release.
Okay, so maybe I had to do some repairs on the roof after I flew up through it. Sue me.
Bottom line, Jill did not disappoint with this one. One of the most important things to note, especially if you're coming to it as a 'Blood of Kings' fan, is that while it shares some elements with her other books, it is different in a few ways. First, 'The Kinsman Chronicles' is set hundreds of years prior to 'Blood of Kings' and therefore the setting is very different. Second, Jill usually writes what she calls "weird fiction for teens", whereas 'The Kinsman Chronicles' is geared primarily towards adults. As such, most of the characters are older and deal with different concerns, the most notable of which stem from the corrupt nature of the culture in which they've been raised.
The story is set primarily in Armania, a land ruled by a corrupt king who makes sacrifices to false gods and keeps several concubines, as well as multiple wives. This is considered normal for nobility in their culture (as was once the case in Israel when the people forgot Jehovah, and strong parallels may be drawn here). One character seems to be the victim of prior sexual abuse, though nothing is explicitly stated or shown, and characters practice dark arts through power drawn from dark spirits. As such, caution should be exercised when considering the book as reading material for less mature audiences. However, I should note that the author handles all these potentially problematic topics with care and restraint, and so puts the proper perspective on the characters' actions and lifestyles without allowing the story to become steeped in inappropriate scenes.
In my opinion, while the more awkward topics might make one squirm a little (the main reason I struggled with whether to give the book four stars or five, because there was no four-and-a-half-star option), the darkness sets things up well for a future turning point when the characters find Arman (God) and make a change in their lifestyles. Have you ever heard the story of someone who was a slave to crime or passion or some other sin, only to experience a miraculous change when they gave their lives over fully to Christ? Those testimonies hold a unique power because of the sheer contrast they elicit between the darkness and the light. As such, I do believe it is important and necessary to show where the characters stumble (though with care, of course) to lay the groundwork for things to come.
The characters, imperfect as they are, are multi-dimensional and relatable. I especially enjoyed reading scenes with Wilek and Trevn, the Armanian Sars (or princes). Their personalities are different, but I found them equally relatable and might have a hard time deciding whom to root for should it come to a choice between one or the other in a future book. The story starts a bit slow as Jill sets everything up, but I didn't find that to be a major issue. The slower start gave me time to connect with the characters and get into their world in a way that a faster beginning would not have allowed. The world-building is superb as ever, with all due context given for the details of the immersive environment created for all the characters involved, without bogging the reader down in unnecessary info-dumps.
All in all, I'd say this is a good start to the series, and worth the read for discerning readers who enjoy epic fantasy. I'm excited to see how the rest of the series goes.
Laura5 Stars Out Of 5Thrilling beginning to a new epic fantasy series!December 18, 2015LauraQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5In "Darkness Reigns" by Jill Williamson, we're introduced to the Kingdom of Armania as well as Rosar Echad and his family. Unlike other monarchies, the eldest is not entitled to the throne and the princes Janek and Wilek are waiting to see who their father will declare as Heir, while Trevn couldn't care less. While Armania experiences disaster after disaster that many believe are the result of the gods being displeased, we're introduced to the other four realms as well, who have their own problems and gods.
All of the characters are very well-written and the story itself just pulls you into it. There's a wide variety of characters from those who are supposed to be likable (Mielle, Trevn) to those who are completely distasteful (Janek). While the premise of this first book is kind of dark, it does leave you a glimmer of hope that things will end up okay in the later parts of the story.
Overall, I found this book to be very well-written and while I'm a relative newcomer to Jill Williamson's books, I absolutely loved this book and can't wait to read the rest of this story. I thought that it was a edge-of-your-seat page turner and since the only time I really had to read was while I was on the bus heading to work, I was disappointed each time I had to turn off my tablet and stop reading. I would definitely recommend this book to all of my friends and I look forward to reading more from Jill Williamson!
Disclaimer: I received an advance copy for free in exchange for an honest review.
Blooming with BooksBloomer, WIAge: 35-44Gender: female5 Stars Out Of 5A fantastic series opener!December 17, 2015Blooming with BooksBloomer, WIAge: 35-44Gender: femaleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5Darkness Reigns
The Kinsman Chronicles Part 1
By Jill Williamson
Darkness has covered the land in which the Five Realms dwell and the long foretold Five Woes seem to be coming forth as if in response to the evil brought forth by the King of Armania.
Within Armania, King Echad rules with a cruel glee - no one is safe from his whims or his worship of Barthos, even his own children. Prince Wilek, eldest son of Echad, longs to be named Heir, to bring about an end to the sacrifices that his father insists upon.
A series of disasters is throwing the Realm of Armania into chaos. A quake has brought Cape Waldemar into the sea. An entire city has been lost to the Lowerworld.
Mielle finds herself newly installed within the court of Armania. Serving as an honor maiden to Lady Zeroah is her best hope of bringing help to the those living within the Sink. But court corruption and politics is more dangerous than Mielle had anticipated or expected. Mielle is dedicated to helping Lady Zeroah with her upcoming marriage to Prince Wilek and to do this she must ferret out information about the prince. Information that will help Zeroah win his heart. But who do you trust in a court where no one trusts anyone and everyone seeks only their own advancement.
This is the first part of the first book of the Kinsman Chronicles and I am totally hooked eagerly awaiting the second part. There is nothing more satisfying than a book that leaves the reader waiting for the next part. This book introduces to a vast cast of characters who seem to be on a course that will bring them together - how and in what matter remains to be seen.
Bring on part 2 and The Heir War...
I was provided an advanced pre-released copy of this book, but have also since purchased it. Darkness Reigns released today - December 1, 2015, and you can get it for a fantastic price free!