Jan 23, 2012

To Darkness Fled, by Jill Williamson (book 2 -- Blood of Kings Trilogy, re-review)

Disclaimer: All reviews are the result of my personal opinion from a Christian stand-point. These reviews are provided for those who share my beliefs and morals, to help guide what fiction a reader may wish to pick up. For those who do not share these beliefs, please refrain from hateful comments. It is due to rude commenting that I must now include this note prior to all reviews. For more information, visit my purpose behind this blog. Thank you for your understanding.

Intended Age-Group: 16+
Issues of Violence: appropriate for teens and up. Battles, wars, sparring matches, life-threatening situations, yet all descriptively clean.
Intimacy Level: Some passionate kissing
Swearing: none!
Recommendation: 5 out of 5 stars

If I could, I'd just sit and breathe in Christian fantasy. It's glorious and To Darkness Fled contains every positive aspect to Christian fantasy I could ever want. This is my second time reading this book and I enjoyed it even more than the first time. (For the first review of the novel, go here)

Achan, Vrell, and the Kingsguard Knights flee into Darkness to escape the evil prince. They head for Ice Island--an abandoned prison and frozen wasteland holding what Achan hopes will be his future army. He's been called by Arman to lead the world of Er'Rets to freedom--to light. That calling brings him face to face with death threats, poison attempts, kidnappings, dark fears, battles, and leadership positions Achan never dreamed of. Meanwhile, Vrell is torn between her growing love for Achan and her desire to serve him as a faithful healer and friend. How can she juggle the two when Achan believes her to be a boy? 

Initial Reaction: *****
Jill Williamson continues to show her skill in writing through making a 600-page novel of mostly traveling full of suspense and thrill. I would recommend reading it over the course of several days--not in one sitting. The characters are traveling through Darkness over a matter of months and it can get very mentally draining for the reader to cover so much ground in just a few days (though I'd love to see someone try!)

Characters: *****
All the characters enter new depths of believability, which made it very easy to join them in their fears, morals, triumphs, desires, motives, and life priorities. Bonds are made between characters through their travels and trust is formed--focusing on faithfulness and friendship.

Spiritual Aspects: *****
Arman continues to seek out Achan and Achan's faith is turning into his own. His belief is deepening and you see it become part of his character. He continues to address difficult questions like, "Why does evil have power if Arman is God?" and "Why are Arman and His Son both worshiped if there's only "one" God?" It stimulates thinking and growth in the reader--at least it did for me.

The violence in this book is appropriate for teens and up. It's a bit higher than the first book. Achan and Vrell both enter several life-threatening battles that often leave them stabbed, bruised, beaten, or tortured. Again, the author keeps the descriptions at a decent level while continuing a realistic write-up of events. The novel addresses the feelings that may arise after killing someone--even if it's in self defense. The sacredness of life is emphasized greatly in this novel particularly.

On the romance front, there are some on-the-mouth kisses and a character who is a bit brazen with his attraction to women. Achan is forced to seek a bride as the upcoming leader of Er'Rets and encounters love potions, which lead to some passionate kisses. On the more severe side, twice, women are chased and/or kidnapped by ill-seeking men who want to take advantage of them physically. Their evil intents are alluded to and never gone into detail--older readers (teens and up) may understand the insinuations whereas younger readers may miss them. Both instances are resolved through rescue and strong lessons are learned from them of protection and caution. All scenes are still appropriate, but i would recommend that these books are only read by teens and older.

Overall Recommendation:
I highly recommend this book. It's well-written, a brilliant continuation to the first, and encourages the reader grow more in his or her thinking and faith. It's such an encouragement to see these strong Christian fantasy novels hitting the electronic bookshelves. They're exactly what young Christian readers need. I can't wait to post the review for the third.

Nadine Brandes is an adventurer, fusing authentic faith with bold imagination. She writes stories about brave living, finding purpose, and other worlds soaked in imagination. Her debut dystopian novel, A Time to Die, releases 2014 from Marcher Lord Press, the premier publisher of Christian speculative fiction. When Nadine's not taste-testing a new chai or editing fantasy novels, she is out pursuing adventures. She currently lives in Idaho with her husband. You can find out more about Nadine and her books at http://nadinebrandes.com.

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