Series: Blood of Kings #2
Published by Enclave Publishing on April 1, 2010
Genres: Fiction, Christian, Suspense, Fantasy
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They have no choice. Chased by an evil prince, Achan, Vrell, and the Kingsguard knights flee into Darkness. They head north, for Tsaftown and Ice Island, where they must free an army that can help them fight for Er’Rets. Darkness sickens Vrell. How long can she keep her secret without being caught? Achan already suspects her of lying. If she is not careful, he will suspect her of treason as well. She hopes he will let his suspicions go until they reach her home. Achan wanted freedom, but this new journey has bound him more than ever. Sir Gavin’s claims are so far fetched. First, that there might only be one God, and second, that this God chose Achan to push back Darkness, the magnificent curse of Er’Rets. Him. Achan. Barely a man himself. Each setback Darkness brings seems minor compared to the one choice only Achan can make. What will he choose?
With seamlessness and suddenness, Jill Williamson throws the reader back into the fury of the Blood of Kings chronicles. The cliffhanger to end By Darkness Hid becomes the immediate conflict of To Darkness Fled. Much to his surprise, Achan Cham has just been revealed as the real Gidon Hadar, crown prince of Er’Rets. Even before Achan can process this, he’s forced to flee as the Council instead sides with Lord Nathak and his renegade prince.
So much of Achan’s past is explained yet so much is turned on end. The plot twist is a common one for fantasy, but Williamson makes it her own and writes it in a way that isn’t clichéd or too very predictable. The twist also mirrors the spiritual precept that we as Christians are all, in fact, royalty—children of God himself. This subtle imagery is what truly makes To Darkness Fled an epic. Another great facet of the story is Achan’s reluctance to be king. He’s only ever wanted to live a simple life, but the life of a king is not simple. His struggle to accept the responsibilities of his position reminded me that we are not called to an easy and comfortable life, but a difficult life of struggle for our King.
Vrell’s storyline is also furthered, although in this installment her character regresses somewhat and seems to be continually complaining. The feistiness and strength shown in By Darkness Hid takes somewhat of a backseat, at least for the first half of the novel. There’s much about Vrell’s character that frustrates me at points, though I’m sure it’s meant to. She’s a fun character and the repartee between Vrell and Achan provide great comedic relief to the novel.
To Darkness Fled is a journey novel. Achan, Gavin, and his other loyal knights flee and begin to form their army in opposition to the Council and the false Gidon Hadar—actually named Esek, the son of Lord Nathak. The resulting journey takes the reader through Er’Rets, showing off Williamson’s wonderful world building capabilities and making Achan’s world seem real and three-dimensional. Achan encounters a number of trials on his journey as he learns the fine art of being king.
Williamson’s second installment isn’t quite as strong as her first. The subtle spiritual themes that played out so well in the first novel—as well as the themes mentioned above in this novel—are excellent, but parts of the novel become borderline preachy. Part of this is ok, as Achan learning about Arman, the real God he never knew, but the sometimes line for line quotation of the Bible seems a bit much. I was also left wondering a bit how Nathak was able to pass off his older son has Gidon Hadar. Did nobody question that Nathak was suddenly missing a son or that the newly found Prince Gidon looked like him? The character of Shung, briefly introduced in book one, plays a larger role in the rest of the trilogy. He is fun character, though his personality seems to change from the first novel, where those in Darkness seem more affected by it.
But all this aside, To Darkness Fled is a captivating read. I began reading at one in the morning and it had me glued to the page until well past sunup. At its core, it’s still Achan and Vrell’s personal journeys of growth—but it widens into a story of the whole of Er’Rets and now Arman has chosen one to be his instrument to repel the Darkness. This middle novel in the Blood of Kings trilogy bridges the gap and widens the story, paving the way for the conclusion in From Darkness Won.
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