Reviewed by Lori Fox
To Darkness Fled by Jill Williamson
"...fantasy novel lovers will be more than pleased with Williamson's offerings."
Despite the announcement that Achan, a former stray, is the legitimate king of Er'Rhets, the council votes to make the usurper, Esek, the king and deems Achan a traitor. Achan and a handful of loyal Kingsguards escape into Darkness, the half of Er'Rhets which never sees the light of the sun or moon, on a mission to release wrongfully imprisoned Kingsguards and drum up support among the nobles.
Vrell Sparrow's disguise as a stray boy has been revealed to those who seek to use her mindspeaking abilities for their own gain, but the disguise yet holds with those she travels with. But that disguise is growing harder to bear in more ways than one. She has grown to care for Achan, but to maintain her disguise she must continue to deceive him, and in caring for him, she betrays her betrothed. To reveal herself would place her into the hands of the nefarious Esek and his traitorous father, Lord Nathak, and so she continues on in silence.
Jill Williamson's To Darkness Fled follows her debut novel, By Darkness Hid. The books follow Achan Cham, a boy who was raised as a stray, an orphan who's social class is below that of a slave, only to be found out at the end of book one as the real Prince Gidon Hadar- former heir to the throne of Er'Rhets and now its rightful king. His traveling companions are several of the loyal Kingsguards and Vrell Sparrow, a Duchess' daughter who Achan and the guards believe to be a stray boy.
To Darkness Fled, and its predecessor By Darkness Hid, are what is usually referred to as epic fantasy. This means that it's a medieval-ish fantasy novel of gargantuan proportions. While this may not sound appealing to those who aren't familiar with fantasy, fantasy novel lovers will be more than pleased with Williamson's offerings. To Darkness Fled picks up almost immediately where By Darkness Hid ends, and that includes the pacing and action.
Williamson's creativity shines here. Her peoples are diverse and thoroughly developed, her system of magic (a kind of telepathy) is fresh and interesting, and much more useful than I would have imagined. And while some of the events could be considered predictable, they really aren't as a whole, and where the events themselves are, how they play out are not.
There were a few spots that I felt were unnecessary and detracted from the story, however, I've been told that these same points didn't make it into the finished copy. Since my copy of To Darkness Fled is an advanced reader copy, I can't swear absolutely that every word is gold. I can, however, tell you that I fully intend to purchase a brand new copy because I want to know how the real story goes. If you need a more familiar author to compare the writing too, I consider Jill Williamson's books to be similar in style and writing skill to Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series, though I've been told that her Blood of Kings series will be a trilogy, rather than an even dozen.
The one point that I consider a shame is that her books are only available through her publisher Marcher Lord Press, Amazon, and Jill's own website. So, unless you get your local book store to place an order, you'll have to get To Darkness Fled and its predecessor online. Trust me, it's well worth the effort.
Lori Fox is a freelance writer who is working on her first novel as well as writing reviews for TitleTrakk.com. In addition to writing, she enjoys reading, making jewelry, and taking as many trips to Walt Disney World as possible with her wonderful husband Kyle. Visit her online at her website.