Wednesday, July 7, 2010

To Darkness Fled

Title: To Darkness Fled
Series: Blood of Kings #2

Author: Jill Williamson

Genre: YA (14-18 yr) fantasy

Excerpt from Chapter 1 of To Darkness Fled:

What do you mean she’s gone?

Vrell Sparrow smiled at Esek Nathak’s sharp tone. She’d been hoping to intrude upon this moment. She twisted the false prince’s silk sleeve in hear hands and held her breath, thankful she’d kept the scrap of fabric. Personal items made it easier to look in on someone’s mind like this, as did her tar-black surroundings.

Though she floated with four men in the small wooden boat gliding west across Arok Lake—and Darkness—she nevertheless looked through Esek’s eyes. The former heir to Er’Rets reclined on a cushioned chaise lounge in his solar in the Mahanaim stronghold. The blazing fire from Esek’s hearth warmed Vrell’s…
Esek’s right side. Her hands trembled with the fury coursing through his body. She forced herself to ignore it, knowing it was Esek’s anger and not her own.

It galled Vrell that she had to share this man’s mind. The man she had once thought to be Prince Gidon Hadar. The man who had demanded to marry her, putting so much pressure on her mother that Vrell had gone into hiding disguised as a stray boy. A disguise she still wore six months later.
A slave-turned-prince and a noblewoman in disguise try to find allies for a coming war and their place within a kingdom in upheaval.

Craft: Hmm. Let’s see here. Where should I start? Where can I start? For I absolutely loved this book.

The characters are fun and identifiable. The plot is attention-holding, the pacing intense, and the stakes high. There’s some great moments of humor, that had me laughing out loud, and the character growth/arc is well-integrated.

If there is any flaw to this writing, it would be the lack of voice—the distinctive rhythms and word choices that make prose sing—which means the description and narrative sound just like that: description and narrative.

But those things are not as integral to a novel, especially if you can simply tell a really great, emotionally satisfying story. And To Darkness Fled is exactly that—a fabulous, gripping story.

Content: Like the craft, so the content. Yes, you have your normal levels of fantasy war violence and minor magical elements (all of which are appropriately portrayed as evil except the telepathy, which is treated like a genetic gifting like athleticism or creativity).

But intertwined with the story is the thematic material, ebbing and flowing with the characters, just as it should. Vrell struggles jealousy/affections of the heart, deception, and the resulting problems. And alongside Achan you discover the traits of Arman (the allegorical parallel to God) and what it means to follow Him, not in lip-service, but with the whole heart.

In short, the content is so integrated with the story, you could not remove it without destroying the structure of the whole—just as it should be.

Summary: To Darkness Fled is a fantastic read in every sense of the word. Highly recommended for teens and adults alike, especially those who enjoy the fantasy genre, there’s really only one major problem currently with this story—book three isn’t out!

Rating: Craft—5, Content—4, Overall—4.5 out of 5 stars

Don't forget to look at book one, By Darkness Hid, too!


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