Series: Blood of Kings #1
Published by Enclave Publishing on April 1, 2009
Genres: Fiction, Christian, Fantasy, Suspense
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Given the chance to train as a squire, kitchen servant Achan Cham hopes to pull himself out of his pitiful life and become a Kingsguard Knight. When Achan's owner learns of his training, he forces Achan to spar with the Crown Prince--more of a death sentence than an honor. Meanwhile, strange voices in Achan's head cause him to fear he's going mad. While escorting the prince to a council presentation, their convoy is attacked. Achan is wounded and arrested, but escapes from prison--only to discover a secret about himself he never believed possible.
Human. That’s all Achan Cham really wants in life—to feel like a human. But Strays are afforded such dignities and he’s lucky to have the place to sleep and the little food he gets to eat in exchange for being a virtual slave. Life isn’t all bad, though. He has his friends, Gren and Noam. Ah, Gren. He’d like nothing more than to be able to hide away in a small little cottage with her as his wife. But his station in life makes their friendship frowned upon and a romance impossible.
But after sixteen years, Achan is finally given a chance to prove his worth. It seems so random, but an old Kingsguard knight named Sir Gavin takes Achan under his wing to train him as a squire. Perhaps Achan can break out from his lowly station, after all. In the midst of his training, he finds strange things beginning to happen to him. Voices in his head he can’t explain or understand. But this is only the beginning of Achan’s journey.
Vrell Sparrow, on the other hand, finds herself on the opposite end of spectrum. She too wishes for the simple life—to settle down and marry Bran, her betrothed—but her high station has made her a wanted woman. Prince Gidon Hadar, heir to the throne of Er’Rets, demands her as his wife for the political gains it would bring him. Not wishing to be married to the ruthless and cruel Gidon or to see his kingdom strengthened, she disguises herself as a boy and goes into hiding. But this too is only the beginning of Vrell’s journey.
In By Darkness Hid, Jill Williamson lays the foundation for a truly epic fantasy trilogy. Darkness is overtaking Er’Rets and nobody seems to really care. Achan and Vrell cross paths at about the book’s midpoint, although Achan believes Vrell to be a fellow stray and a boy. Williamson does a great job of world building without overwhelming, adding characters and places and tying events and people together through relationships but in a way that creates realism and not confusion. The pacing is brilliant, sucking the reader in, alternating between laying foundations and advancing story, making the novel’s 500 some pages fly by.Williamson’s spiritual themes are subtle, yet unmistakable. While each region of Er’Rets seems to have their own city god, there are those who worship only the creator God, Arman.
By Darkness Hid plunges the reader into the world of Er’Rets and paints it beautifully and masterfully, ending with a cliffhanger of an ending that will have you begging for book two. Be sure to have it ready and have some time set aside, because once in Achan’s world, you’ll not want to leave it.
Listen to a free audiobook version read by Jill here. Be ye warned…I was 6 podcasts in when I decided I could read faster than Jill could talk and bought the trilogy for myself.