Feb 5, 2012

From Darkness Won, by Jill Williamson (book 3 - Blood of Kings Trilogy)

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, physical temptation, talk of concubines, infidelity, etc.
Swearing: none!
Recommendation: 5 out of 5 stars

My jaw dropped at the start of this book, partially because the first chapter took me into a new realm of magic I'd never considered in the world of Er'Rets. Every word was new. I love reading books for the first time when I know that they'll be good. Now that I'm finished, I miss Achan and Vrell. I miss running to the 600-page-novel every free minute I have, but at last the tale of Er-Rets is complete in my mind.

Achan is taking his role as king seriously--he's learning what it means to actually lead instead of just follow advice. His reception from the people of Carmine is far from what he expected or hoped for -- strife-ridden, caused by his recent betrothal to the heir of Carm. Achan tries to fit into this role of being a king and future husband, all the while pining for Vrell who constantly seems to escape his grasp.
Vrell encounters verbal rebuttal and scolding from every side as she comes head to head with her own pride. Struggling to accept her love for Achan, she continues to doubt his character and holds to her pride of controlling her own life. After several failed escape attempts and pleas for assistance, she finally runs away from Carm (and Achan) on her own to seek life as a healer. When she is stormed into the Veil, it brings both her and Achan into a new world of discovery and learning regarding bloodvoicing and Veil warriors. Only Achan can try and save her from the Veil, but will this make his role as king and betrothed husband harder? What about when Vrell can't seem to recognize his voice or face?

Characters: *****
The depth of every character grows immensely in this book. The reader enters their stories more than I would have expected. The time of war is at hand and I felt like I was living through a battle at the same time. The execution of this novel is phenomenal. Jill Williamson deserves all the high-fives in this five-fingered world.

We see such a lovely contrast between who Vrell first was before all of this adventure and who she's become after knowing Achan and growing a deeper relationship with Arman. I especially love the fact that the book is unpredictable. There are some parts that the reader can see coming, but mostly, what I would have expected to happen in a Hollywood film doesn't take place in this book (not surprising, coming from Jill Williamson). It's realistic, but still hopeful and beautiful, which makes it all the more believable. Vrell makes bad decisions and consequences come from them. She thinks she has a good idea, but it fails (thank heavens) again and again until she's truly seeking Arman for guidance. Every choice is so believable with each character. I loved following the characters through this last installment of their stories. I miss them immensely, but I'm quite satisfied with the conclusion.

Spiritual Content: *****
Achan and Vrell continue to learn even more about Arman. They are drawn closer to His Will and see how His hand is perfect, yet still unpredictable, in their lives, requiring faith to follow Him. I loved seeing and entering into His power. It causes my thoughts to dwell on the power of our God and makes me examine how I am following Him.

Plot: *****
This entire beautifully written story concluded with great power. Every knot feels tied, while still leaving some things open to the imagination. It ended too soon. I miss it already. But it ended right. :-) 

Mature Content:
The content remains in the young adult and adult level. Issues arise like intimacy temptation, infidelity, history of mistresses, black magic, and the power of the devil. It brings the spiritual battle into a new light and I loved it. It addresses personal flaws and issues like selfishness, distraction, stubbornness, and pride. I would recommend this to every mid-teen and adult who loves fantasy (and even those who don't!). It is relate-able, encouraging, and the ending was fulfilling and action-packed.

On the "intimacy" front, a few things should be mentioned: There is insinuation to adult situations like rape, making babies, infidelity, etc. At one point, Achan finds himself drunk and tempted by a prostitute. She starts "making the moves" and he starts falling for them. Descriptions remain appropriate, but the situation is certainly most appropriate for older teens and above. Achan ends up making the right choice (narrowly), but still reaps the consequences of his actions--shame, lost respect, revealed weaknesses, sadness in the kisses lost.

There are several instances of specific followers and knights of Achan getting intoxicated, either from jubilance or depression. Achan follows suit at one point and greatly regrets it. Though there are several instances of intoxication, they all come with a lesson and regret from Achan. This book addresses and teaches very well on many adult issues.

Overall Recommendation:
The Blood of Kings Trilogy is everything I desired and would hope to see in Christian fantasy. In fact, it exceeds my hopes. God clearly blessed Williamson with the imagination and writing skill to complete this trilogy. The novels are clean, deep, realistic, and hold no trace of the cheesy romance that seems to glue itself to out Christian shelves. Jill Williamson is certainly within my top 5 of most  admired authors (and that's saying something!) I will read every piece of paper that comes from her tired fingertips (speaking of which, take a look at her newest novel, Replication: The Jason Experiment, which happened to be released on my BIRTHDAY).

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.


  1. Thanks for reading and reviewing my books, Nadine! I'm thrilled that you liked them.


    ps. Maybe someday I'll get to read you books! :-)

  2. They're on my favorite's shelf for good. :)

    And I certainly hope you'll get to read my books. God's been blessing me with the time and mental power to work on them consistently amidst my busy life. :) I look forward to completing them (but at the same time, not...because I'll miss my characters). I'm sure you understand far better than I. :)

  3. Yeah... I miss Achan. :-/
    People keep emailing me to write more, but I don't know what to write about yet. Maybe someday.