To Darkness Fled picks up right where By Darkness Hid left off and continues the excellence from that point to the final page. Readers will draw even closer to Vrell and Achan and company, if that were possible, and love every second of it. This sequel is quite different from its predecessor, as would be expected; much has changed since Achan stumbled toward the barn as a stray in book one. But this story is equally as deep, riveting, and powerful. Highly recommended, but read book one first!
After reading By Darkness Hid, Jill Williamson became one of my favorite authors instantaneously. I was so excited to see her first novel win a Christy - it was entirely deserviced. I have read a great deal of fantasy over the course of my reading career, but I can say without a doubt that the Blood of Kings series is everything that an epic fantasy novel should be. Better yet - the author's Christian approach to fantasy imbue the work and character with great integrity, honor, and struggles that lead them closer to their one-god (called Arman in this world).
To Darkness Fled, the sequel and middle book of the trilogy, is everything I hoped for, and more. Classified as a young adult novel, it is still an incredible read for fantasy-loving adults as well! Williamson's characters continue to become fuller and richer, growing in likeability.
Picking up where By Darkness Hid left off, the story follows Vrell, Achan, and their renegade party into Darkness, where no sun shines. Fleeing from the false prince Esek Nathak they are relentlessly pursued by bounty hunters and the allies of the impostor who has formally seized Achan's rightful place as King of Er'Rets. Battles ensue, rescues take place, armies are raised, and Vrell continues to masquerade as a humble lad while growing fonder, and fonder of the rightful (yet still displaced) King.
One of the most delightful aspects of To Darkness Fled is that Williamson rarely needs to concoct conflict for Achan and Vrell - they make it for themselves; it springs intrinsically from them as they stumble over their own faults and innate character flaws as their struggle towards maturity. Many times other authors seem to be flinging unnecessary obstacles in the path of two characters finding one another, but Achan and Vrell do a great job of this themselves_.no matter how frustrating it is to me as a reader! Still, I can see how any pat resolutions at this point would be so contrived, and not true to the characters.
Williamson has also crafted one of the most realistic transitions from displaced hero-boy to a fledgling King that I have ever read. The growth of Achan from a heroic stray into coming to understand his place in the world as Arman's chosen sovereign is skillfully wrought, and therefore entirely believable. We are also treated to a deeper understanding of how Arman and His Son Caan parallel YWH and His Son Yeshua as we see Achan growing in his knowledge of Er'Rets' one-God.
The only frustration is that the story ends with a cliffhanger - of course! But still, now that the third, and final installment in the trilogy is completed, readers won't have to wait to get their next dose of Vrell and Achan in. I know I certainly can't! Fans of Christian fantasy owe it to themselves to check out this series - they won't be disappointed!
If you don't have time to read, don't start this book because it is very hard to put down! I enjoyed it and so did my teenage neice. Both of the books in the series are excellent. They have a good story line with well developed characters and lots of action with a Christian mindset. I can't wait for the third book!
AchanÃ¢â¬âor rather, Gidon Hadar is on the run for his life, straight into the darkness. Fleeing into it is his only hope of escaping capture and death from Esek. So with Sir Gavin leading the way with his nose, they plumb the murky depths. The darkness will play tricks with your mind, make you go crazy; the only way to overcome its mind twisting properties is to focus. How to focus in the dark without making noise? Bloodvoicing. During a simple training session, his bloodvoicing almost kills Vrell when his untrained storming attempt goes overboard. However, even beyond that, his voice is still leaking out and it will only help his pursuers if he can't master blocking. Will Achan ever master his blood voicing and grow into his birthright?
Vrell's life is only getting more complex as her stay with the rightful heir lengthens. He's getting more suspicious of her, and she's starting to worry about how she feels about the prince. She's supposed to marry Bran, she needs to get away and back to normal life, right? But if Achan has his way, she'll also give away her secret. When Achan storms her during bloodvoice training her fainting is the only thing that saves her. And her secret is almost lost--again. Only Sir Gavin knows---but in typical Sir Gavin fashion, he's not helping much. Will her secret be found out?
This book was good, great!! The writing quality was excellent and plot was engrossing cubed!(Math Reference) Achan just can't seem to win and I had to keep turning the pages hoping things changed for him. Vrell was easy to follow, her life too had plenty of bumps in it and will she ever tell the prince? Mrs. Williamson painted vivid pictures for the reader giving almost a cinematic texture to the book. With the extra length on this book compared to other fantasy reads it gave me a chance to really bite into the materials and get engrossed in the story. As opposed to most of the second in series books I read I found that I actually enjoyed this book as much, if not more than the previous book.
The only problem I might have with this book was that the romantic angle of the book was about as big as I'd go in my reading. So, I don't think it would cause a problem for people, but there's a heads up.
I'd read By Darkness Hid, and enjoyed it immensely, so I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to read the sequel.
To Darkness Fled didn't disappoint. I wasn't able to put it down. If it hadn't been a PDF file, I would've been flipping the pages; as it was, I kept hitting the arrow key to find out what would happen next!
The main players: Vrell Sparrow (aka Lady Averella Amal); Achan Cham (aka Prince Gidon Hadar); and evil Prince Esek (formerly, falsely known as Prince Gidon Hadar). The story picks up where By Darkness Hid left off, with Achan Cham and Vrell Sparrow in a boat rowing through the Darkness with several men who've pledged Achan their service: Sir Gavin, Sir Caleb, and Inko. The Darkness is both mist and lack of light; it's disorienting and dangerous. It can only be fought by staying close together and speaking among themselves.
There are also dangerous creatures in the Darkness: ebens , gowzals , and cham-bears - huge, fierce beasts that breathe fire. Achan Cham got his Stray surname from the cham-bears.
Worse than the dangerous creatures are the dangerous people, like the Sakin Magos (Black Knights) they encounter, all of whom have some reason to either enslave or enthrall Achan, or torture and kill him. In a few places, they also meet people who believe Achan is their true ruler, chosen by Arman (their name for God). These people greet them in peace, and help them, giving sacrificially to them.
Travelling in the Darkness takes its toll. It creeps into the brains of the weak-willed and drives them crazy. With stronger souls who are focused on their purpose or distracted by activity, the Darkness cannot invade their minds and spirits, but it lurks about the edges of their consciousness and if they should become lost in their own thoughts and cease other interaction, the Darkness will invade and seek to take them over.
Vrell and Achan learn that the Darkness is growing; that only the true king anointed of Arman can drive the Darkness back by teaching his people to put away their false beliefs and wrong practices in favor of worshipping Arman and doing what He says is right instead.
Some of the things that I really liked about To Darkness Fled:
Personalities. The main characters are quite well-developed. Their personalities are unique and memorable. I liked it that Achan would think or mutter "Pig snout!" as an expression of disgust every time something bad happened. This reminded me of where he began; taking care of the livestock as a humble Stray.
I liked that Vrell struggled with maintaining her disguise, and wrestled with her feelings for Achan even as she fussed over him like a mother hen about his battle injuries. I also liked how the author dealt with a girl's reasonable objections to certain aspects of masquerade as a boy.
I still have trouble with the whole concept of bloodvoicing, though in this book the concept seemed more natural and reasonable than in the first of this series.
I highly recommend To Darkness Fled for ages 13 and up. This is an excellent Y.A. book, but it's also a good read for those of us who are older, with a great deal of spiritual food for thought.