Book Review - By Darkness Hid

Darkness Divides the Land
Half of Er'Rat is locked beneath an impenatrable shroud. On the side that still sees the sun, two young struggle to understand the mind-communication abilities thrust upon them. It's called bloodvoicing. Some say it's a gift. One of the newly "gifted" wish it had never come.

Achan has been a slave all his life. Worse than a slave - a stray. He is confined to the kitchens of a lord and is forced to swallow a foul potion every day. When an enigmatic knight offers to train Achan for the Kingsguard, he readily accepts. But his new skills with the sword do not prepare him for the battle raging between the voices in his head.

Vrell Sparrow is not who she seems. She masquerades as a boy to escape the powerful forces that wish to exploit her. But Vrell feels called to help a young squire who recently discovered his bloodvoicing gift, even if doing so requires her to work with those who could destroy her.
While Achan learns to use his new ability, Vrell struggles to shut hers down. All the voices strive to learn Achan and Vrell's true identities - and a different kind of voice is calling them both. Towards a destination that is by darkness hid.



Overall Opinion:


By Darkness Hid pulled me into the story from the very beginning. While some might think it a formidable read (nearly 500 pages long), I didn’t even notice as I flew through the pages and completed it in a day. (Granted, I did lose a bit of sleep – but I did NOT want to put it down!) I don’t really care for the fantasy genre, but this book was amazing. I can understand why it won the Christy award!
The plot was intricate and complex and it doesn’t clean them all up nice and neat by the last page. Oh no. When you read the last page, Jill leaves things hanging and characters in danger, making you wonder how Achan and Vrell are ever going to get out of such a sticky situation.
Achan was a character I really grew to appreciate. Even though he was a “stray” – a branded people who were lower than slaves and treated worse than animals – he was chivalrous, kind, hardworking, and heroic. Achan’s forbidden love was sad. And the personal sacrifice he gave to her must have been so hard to do. Growing up in a world where everyone saw “strays” as beasts of burden, it must have been heartbreaking for him to discover his lover was being betrothed to another. I can understand his desire to run away with her – to find a place where they could live where people didn’t look down at him for being a stray.
I loved the complicity of Vrell’s situation – a seventeen year old girl running from a forced marriage, masquerading as a fourteen year old “stray” boy. I found it amusing whenever she accidently said something too proper for a stray, behaved more feminine than a boy would, or had to evade bathing with the other men. That would be a hard charade to keep up! As Vrell went through her trying adventures and continued her masquerade, she changed and matured in several ways. I kept cheering for her as she came to Achan’s aid and helped him understand the powers of his own gift.
The ‘gift’ I keep referring to is known as ‘bloodvoicing’. It’s where people with this gift can read peoples thoughts or communicate with other bloodvoicers. It took some time for me to get used to this idea, but once I grew comfortable with this well-known ability in the kingdom of Er’Rets, I was caught up in Achan and Vrell’s experience as they learned how to use their gift.
As I concluded the book, I found myself already wishing I had the sequel sitting on my nightstand, ready to be instantly picked up after I read the final page of By Darkness Hid. Jill Williamson has weaved together an intriguing beginning for the Blood of Kings series and I can’t wait to discover what lies ahead of Achan and Vrell as they enter Darkness. If you are able to get this book, you won’t be disappointed with this wonderful story.


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