To Darkness Fled by Jill Williamson
Reviewed by Lori Twichell, Radiant Lit
Genre: Action, Adventure, Young Adult
Publisher: Marcher Lord Press
Publication Dates: April 1, 2010
When we first met Achan Cham, he was a stray. With no family to speak of, this meant that he was forced to be not only a servant, but a second class citizen. Life was hard for Achan and all he ever wanted was freedom. He longed to marry the girl that he wanted to marry and live alone in a cottage somewhere raising a family with her.
Then things changed. Through a series of amazing circumstanced, Achan discovered that, though he was a stray, he was certainly not only a servant. He was a future king. His parents had been king and queen of the land before they were brutally murdered. Lord Nathak, Achan’s master, had been behind the entire thing and spent his life hiding the young prince. Not for his safety, but to usurp the throne with his own son.
Now a young uncrowned king, Achan is struggling with the massive changes in his life. Suddenly he has clothes and food and an entourage that follows him night and day. But he also has people who want to kill him and, as much as he never paid attention to politics previously, he’s now at the center of the swirling political maelstrom in his kingdom.
And yet as much as his life has changed, many parts of it have not. Achan still isn’t really free. After all a young king can’t just take off and do whatever he wants to and he’s certainly not allowed to marry the beautiful young girl who, at one point, was well above his station and now is unfortunately, well below it.
Then there’s Vrell Sparrow. A young beautiful noble woman who needed to disguise herself as a young boy to get away from a frightening offer of marriage, Vrell has somehow ended up as Achan’s best friend and squire. But he has no idea that his squire is a beautiful young woman. He just sees a scrawny undersized boy who has no fighting skills. Vrell is also the only person who has ever truly accepted him whether he was royalty or a stray. Upon discovery of his royal bloodlines, Vrell didn’t change the way (s)he treated Achan and he likes that. It’s refreshing. And there’s some sort of chemistry between the two of them that is unable to be denied.
Jill Williamson’s tale of strays and kings and servants and noble women is gorgeous. If I could, I would tell everyone I know who has ever read a fantasy or a romance or an adventure to buy this book immediately. Written for a Young Adult audience, these books are intelligent, witty, charming and above all, solid safe reading recommendations for any teen. Packed with adventure that will appeal to teenage boys, this book is full of swordplay, war, spiritual battles and almost more action than one book can handle. And for teenage girls? Vrell is 17, beautiful and yet no one knows it. She’s hidden beneath a disguise and she’s fighting her feelings for Achan. There’s no way that a king would possibly want her.
Williamson has successfully created a beautiful fantasy world, rife with real world examples of peer pressure, confusion and still, solid parenting and guidance. She’s wrapped the story around Biblical values that are clear and easy to see. Though it’s fantasy and everything/everyone has a different name, the roots of Williamson’s faith are solid and cannot be denied.
I loved this book. The first book, By Darkness Hid, was a brilliant set up for what looks to be a deeply rich and satisfying series. This book, the second in Williamson’s series, has not only continued the story, but raised the bar. With shades of Tolkein, Lewis and a more recent master of fantasy, Stephen Lawhead, this book is a must read for any fan of action. Or adventure. Or romance. Or fantasy. Or science fiction. You get the point? Go try it. You’ll like it.
Oh and did I mention that the next book has just released too? You may want to just get all three so you have the next book on hand…trust me on that.
Rated PG – This is a brilliant book for the the YA audience!
**Review copy provided by Marcher Lord Press – thank you Jeff!