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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on April 1, 2010
Format: Paperback
The second installment of the Blood of Kings series will thrill, surprise, and delight readers just as much as the first. With stellar craftsmanship, the author continues to thrust her characters into a myriad of plot-driven obstacles that will have readers biting their nails late into the night.

The story picks up right where By Darkness Hid left off, with Achan, Vrell, and the Kingsguard knights fleeing into Darkness to escape the wrath of their former prince. They head north toward Ice Island in the hopes that they can free the wrongly accused men imprisoned there. Vrell continues to masquerade as a boy, but she knows it's only a matter of time before she'll either have to reveal her true identity, or abandon the party of questers. Achan, who has only ever known the life of a Stray, wrestles with the decor and responsibilities that come with his newfound authority. As they flee across Er'rets, their bloodvoicing talents and swordcraft excel, but in a world of ever-growing Darkness, how can two teens stay in the Light?

This is the best novel I've read since By Darkness Hid came out, and I'm a fairly voracious reader. I'd recommend it to anyone I know, young or old, male or female, fantasy lover or not. It's just that good.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
This is one of those books that leaves me nearly speechless, I loved it so much. Jill Williamson is a truly gifted writer. She has the ability to write a story that completely captivates you. She weaves her story lines brilliantly. It is so masterfully done that you never know what is going to happen next, but you can't wait to find out what it is! I believe that Jill is one of my top 5 favorite authors of all time. In my opinion, this book (and the one that precedes it) should be moved to the top of your to-be-read list.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on May 7, 2011
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I guess if you want to be surprised in your reading to find you are reading a Christian fiction novel that you thought was a fantasy / sci fi with an obvious bang-it-over your head message read on. The first book was interesting enough and priced cheap enough that i bought the second one. Thank goodness i didn't buy the third one at the same time which is triple the price of the second. The first part of this second novel isn't too bad, but the last half of this book disintegrates. Not only is there is there lots of purple writing, but it is dogmatic, and it contradicts itself to the first book. A strong female protagonist with a bit of a whining problem is suddenly elevated into hero status because she 'honors her father' by being willing to marry whoever he picks even some old mad guy who likes younger women because it would make a good political match. It's ridiculous! I couldn't finish the book. I made it 90 percent thru. It's a christian romance novel (with major faults) not sci fi or fantasy - and is being sold in the wrong category. An example of dialogue from the end of the second book:
""Where is Arman? Why won't he answer?"
"Because no one comes to the father except though me."
"You quote from the book of life"
"I am the author."
"You are Arman?"
"i am his son. Caan"
"Do not put Arman to the test."
"You must commit yourself to Arman so the people will know him.. For i died to ransom all. To ransom you."
"I am sorry. I didn't understand."
"Your faith has ransomed you. Go in peace."
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on August 12, 2010
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I loved the first book and the second does not disapoint!
Finally Vrell is revealed and the love story begins, enjoy!
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on October 6, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition
I liked the first book, so I bought this second rather indiscriminately... I regret it. Two reasons:

1. As soon as the two main protagonists become attracted to each other (separately, Vrell before Achan) they each devolve into whiny, obnoxious, contrarian brats. I was very disappointed regarding the dilution of Vrell's character in particular--she becomes very much like a woman in the middle books of the Wheel of Time series. "I hate him! I like him! Men are disgusting! I'm so jealous! I don't know what I want! Pout! Huff!" From Jordan it was bad enough, but I can't help feeling that a woman author should know better. Vrell's actions in the last 10% of the book are illogical, hysterical nonsense and can only be explained by the author's need to preserve the unresolved romantic tension, like a TV series trying desperately to keep viewers as its ratings slip.

2. The Christian "message" is so incredibly dogmatic in book 2 that it detracted significantly from the story. I tried to be sympathetic, thinking, the author probably feels called to make her faith a real part of her fictional world, and she's certainly not the first to do so overtly (hi, Orson Scott Card). However, the fact that I'm making excuses for the author while reading means she failed. It pulled me out of the story--and that was before the temple scene.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on July 5, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
So, the first book was good and, oh, about 2/3 to 3/4 of this one. I didn't mind the religious preaching/message - it wasn't overdone and relatively believeable... until near the end of this book, where it was not only overdone, but not really believeable. Other authors have managed to balance their message and story and characters - and this one did too, for a while. But it got too much.
And worse, our female protagonist lost all her strength and became a whiney, hypocritical, spoiled brat. Gah. I can't stomach anymore of this if it continues in the same vein.
So it would have received about 4 stars, but ends up with 2 because the end was so bad. and I certainly won't waste any time on the next one.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
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!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 17, 2010
Format: Paperback
Achan--or 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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 26, 2011
Format: Paperback
I write fantasy, so I love to read it. And Williamson does not disappoint. By Darkness Hid (Book 1) was full of action, intricate plotting, and believable characterization. To Darkness Fled gets even better.

Achan Cham, a "stray" even lower than a slave, has learned that he is actually the rightful king of Er'Rets. However, and imposter has taken the throne, and he is forced to flee into the perpetually dark half of the kingdom to hide and attempt to raise an army.

Achan is accompanied by Vrell Sparrow, a boy who is a gifted healer. But unknown to Achan, Vrell is a young woman, fleeing an arranged marriage to the false king. Both Achan and Vrell possess the gift of bloodvoicing--the ability to speak to others through their mind. This ability saves both of them on many occasions, but having someone read her mind endangers Vrell's ability to keep her secret.

Traveling through a dark land for most of a novel is no task for a light-weight writer. Williamson does a masterful job of engaging the senses--especially smells, sounds, and textures to create a mood. The setting is definitely a character here. But the characterization is even better. When a writer is unable to use facial expression in much of a story, the skillful use of tone and accent keeps the reader engaged without realizing what's missing.

Reading these books makes me want to write better. Add more action to my manuscript. Stay away from predictable plotting. Deepen my characters.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on September 15, 2010
Format: Paperback
Jill Williamson is making a name for herself. To Darkness Fled is a brilliant sequel continuing the stories of Achan Cham and Vrell Sparrow. This continuation picks up moments after the first book ends with Achan and Vrell fleeing the rogue "king" with Old Kingsguard knights. The majority of the book covers their travels which, to be honest, I thought would be repetitive and monotonous (what's more boring than traveling for weeks on end? Reading about traveling for weeks on end.), but Williamsons' writing is anything but dull. She throws twists from every corner and keeps every chapter exciting, unpredictable, and harder to put down.

Both Achan and Vrell learn more about bloodvoicing as they travel to Ice Island to free long-imprisoned soldiers for Achan's army. Achan comes to a new understanding of what kingship entails and grows a deeper relationship with Arman--the One who called him to be king. Meanwhile, Vrell struggles to keep her gender and identity a secret, but cannot subdue her growing love for Achan.

I enjoyed the story almost as much as the first novel. It kept me flipping pages, anxious for answers, and surprised by plot turns. Reading a well-written Christian fantasy was a new (or at least sorely-missed) experience for me. And only after reading these first two Blood of Kings novels did I notice what a difference having a fantasy based on Christ makes. Both during and after the read, I felt uplifted and even able to focus on God more.

All the characters in these first two books are convincing, in-depth, and believable. No human reaction, battle scene, escape attempt, or romantic encounter comes off as sugar coated or unrealistic. Every character, bad and good, has lifelike motives and desires. Williamson skillfully emphasizes morals, beliefs, and life priorities through her characters' eyes. I am also impressed with her ability to create and describe a new world without bogging down the reader with explanations, descriptions, or over-the-top details.

To Darkness Fled deals with more on the romantic side than book 1 and, though it remains clean and decent, my opinion remains the same from my review of book 1--that these novels are appropriate for mid-teens, young adults, and older. Not for children or "tweens".

I highly recommend buying/reading To Darkness Fled (after the 1st one, of course!). Ask your local library to carry it if you can't find it in a nearby bookstore. It is a wonderful read and I pray Jill Williamson continues to write, even after finishing the series. You know the story is good when, afterward, you don't want to read anything else but the same novel over again. The Blood of Kings series is like a second home in book form. I can't wait to walk over the threshold into book 3 and live through the conclusion.
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