By Darkness Hid, by Jill Williamson (Enclave Publishing, 2009)
In a world where orphans are physically branded as “strays” and subject to suspicion and abuse, Achan Cham has reached his teen years and somehow maintained a compassionate heart and a dry wit. Coming of age brings an unexpected opportunity to leave his kitchen drudgery and train as a knight’s squire—which thrusts him into conflict with the prince soon to be crowned king.
Then he starts hearing voices in his head, and discovers the legends of “bloodvoicing” are true. Those with the gift (he’d call it a curse) can communicate mentally across great distance.
Vrell Sparrow is a young noblewoman hiding out as a boy stray so she won’t be forced to marry the prince. She, too, has the gift, and there are those who want her secrets—and her service.
Many citizens follow pagan idols, but Vrell serves the one true God, known in this world as Arman. Achan only knows of the local goddess, and she doesn’t seem to have paid him any attention throughout his harsh life.
The author’s website describes By Darkness Hid as an “epic medieval fantasy tale.” The characters are engaging, the settings are rich and interesting, and there’s trouble rising in this land which is already half in the shadow of Darkness.
The teen protagonists may make this a young adult novel, but I fully enjoyed it as an adult, and look forward to finishing the series.
By Darkness Hid is book 1 in the Blood of Kings series. It Christy Award for Visionary (2010), ACFW Carol Award Nominee for Speculative (2010). Jill Williamson has also written The Kinsman Chronicles and other speculative tales. For more about the author and her work, visit jillwilliamson.com.
[Review copy from my personal library.]