By Darkness Hid
Marcher Lord Press
By Darkness Hid is a fantasy novel by Jill Williamson. In its opening pages we meet Achan who is a stray. A stray in this world is a person who was abandoned or orphaned and who is branded as stray. They are lower than slaves. Achan, whose name means trouble is shaken from his routine of service by the arrival of a knight who astonishingly takes Achan on as a squire. Unfortunately this doesn’t make life easier for Achan, but instead piles difficulty upon difficulty. Just to add to his confusion he begins to hear voices in his head.
In another part of his world Vrell is forced to going into hiding disguised as a stray and a boy. She is hiding from a marriage that neither she nor her mother wants. Vrell is learning healing and herbs in a remote town when knights arrive to carry her off as apprentice to Macoun Harder in the city of Mahanaim. Unable to contact her mother, Vrell has no choice but to go with the two men and maintain her secret. Yet being surrounded by people who can bloodvoice – read thoughts and communicate through their minds will not make this a simple task.
Jill Williamson has created two very engaging characters in Achan and Vrell. They are immediately likeable and we root for them to succeed. She has also given us a believable cast of villains and supporting characters. The land they live in is divided into Light and Dark by a curse. The division is literal as well as metaphorical. The Dark is shrouded by clouds and the sun never shines there. She doesn’t take the easy route and make her people automatically one thing or another. Where ever they live her characters must make their own choice for good or ill.
Like all the books in Marcher Lord Press this is Christian fiction, but as in other books released by this company, it is Christian in a subtle fashion. There is no preaching here, only a rollicking tale of two young people caught up in something much bigger than they are. The element of faith is there, but it is no barrier to just enjoying the story. I would recommend this book to anyone, Christian or not.
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