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New Christian Fantasy Series

A new world from fantasy novelist Jill Williamson awaits your voracious reading appetites.
| Dec 1, 2015 | 16 comments |

Attention, readers and fans of fantasy. A new world awaits your voracious reading appetites.

A world of magic and approaching doom, of darkness and corruption, of intrigue and treachery. A world rich with the vibrant colors of cultures and characters that are diverse, unique, and captivating.

The world of the Five Realms.

Darkness Reigns coverChances are, you’ve heard of Jill Williamson, Christian author extraordinaire. I loved her Blood of Kings Trilogy, so imagine my thrill upon discovering she has a new fantasy series in the works. The first slice of that epic pie is available starting today.

Darkness Reigns is the first part of what will be the massive tome King’s Folly, the first book in The Kinsman Chronicles. Each of the book’s three parts, starting with Darkness Reigns, will release in ebook form between now and April, when the paperback makes its debut.

This brings to attention a trend I’ve been noticing. Serial stories. Popular in the time of Dickens, they’re experiencing a resurgence. Amazon has a series of serially published books, and I’ve seen several authors take this track.

Here’s the explanation on the series page for the serial releases:

The Kinsman Chronicles is a nine-part epic fantasy series that will release in both nine ebook parts and three paperback volumes from Bethany House Publishers. This will allow fans to keep up with the story on a more timely basis, rather than having to wait a full year between books.

The story takes place in the same world as Blood of Kings, but in another era, with a decidedly different feel and tone. In that sense, it’s cool to know there’s a connection and imagine how the threads tie the two series’ together.

You should check out Jill’s website, where you can browse through worldbuilding elements like runes, sigils, family trees, and more. Oh, and my personal favorite—a map. Because every fantasy story needs a map.

She’s also been doing a countdown to the release day. Each day’s post digs a little deeper into the story, which I think is cool.

That’s Not All

Now for the best part.

Darkness Reigns is FREE!

Let the trumpets ring out with joyful clarion call.

There are a few places where you can download the ebook:

  • Amazon
  • Jill’s website, which has links to several online sellers

I’m fortunate enough to be on the launch team for King’s Folly. I read Darkness Reigns last month and let me tell you, as a fantasy fanatic, I devoured every virtual page. It emblazoned a bold checkmark in all my boxes.

  • A rich setting, with plenty of room for further exploration
  • Entertaining and intriguing characters
  • Hints of large-scale danger
  • The feel that this piece of the story is but one small cog in a vast, ticking clock
  • Inventive magic systems
  • Layers of culture and custom, flavored with the salt of the familiar and the exotic spice of the new

Basically, if you read fantasy, this book needs to be in your life, and how can you go wrong with a free story? Something to note: it’s not squeaky clean. Darkness does reign…corruption, harems, concubines, arranged marriages, human sacrifices. Yet it’s handled with tact and skill, and never once felt gratuitous. Just something to keep in mind.

One last thing. To celebrate the official release, there’s going to be a Facebook party tonight, starting at 9 pm EST. It’s taking place at Jill’s Author Page. I’ve been to a few release parties before, and they’re a blast. You may know what I’m talking about, and if you don’t, you should head over and join the fun.

Darkness Reigns is but the first few steps upon a long journey, one that—based on what I know—will prove to be entertaining, epic, and powerful. Fantasy at its best. I’m excited to see the story unfold. Are you?

What’s your opinion on the serial release format? Do you see it growing in popularity?

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sheesania
Guest

I actually didn’t care much for By Darkness Hid, unfortunately…I really wanted to like it, but it just rubbed me the wrong way. However, from what I’ve read of this book, it sounds quite interesting. The worldbuilding and the darker tone of the story both appeal to me. I got it for my Kindle and will probably read it once I’m done re-reading Words of Radiance. Hopefully I’ll enjoy it more than By Darkness Hid and finally be able to participate in the love for Jill Williamson’s books!

Paul Lee
Member

I actually didn’t care much for By Darkness Hid, unfortunately…I really wanted to like it, but it just rubbed me the wrong way.

Largely agreed about Blood of Kings. For me, there were just too many expectations that were too directly transplanted, especially in regard to modern non-denominational evangelical Christianity being more-or-less present. The parallels to Judaism and to the ancient Hellenistic world were interesting, and maybe the religion would have seemed more authentically like primitive New Testament Christianity if the story didn’t go out of its way to make points about how bad the institutionalized, liturgical versions of the alternate-world Christianity were. To me, it gave me more of the “religion is bad, Christianity as religion is bad, it’s all a relationship so smash the Institution, but FYI don’t think about rebelling against our little institution” vibes that I grew up with.

But it’s been years; Blood of Kings was among the first Marcher Lord Press series that I eagerly purchased back when I was still excited about things.

Hard to remember specifically—but there was one worldbuilding element that was very interesting to me, maybe it wasn’t in the first book. Some kind of spiritual dream-walking thing that I think was drawn from Native American lore and seemed to be accepted with some ambiguity in the books, not shown to be blatantly and 100% evil. But I might be mistaken, it’s been a while.

sheesania
Guest

Largely agreed about Blood of Kings. For me, there were just too many expectations that were too directly transplanted, especially in regard to modern non-denominational evangelical Christianity being more-or-less present.

This was the main thing that disappointed me about By Darkness Hid. You’re in a fantasy world, you have a really neat opportunity to portray Christianity in a novel, unexpected way – and instead you kind of shoehorn modern American evangelical Christianity into the world. However, I’m the sort of person who looks for strangeness (for lack of a better word) in my fantasy. I don’t want to read stories about individualistic Americans and modern evangelical Christianity plus magic and dragons. I would like to read stories about different new cultures, different new worlds, and different new ways to look at God’s truth. The Narnia books, for instance, are full of classic Christian truths (salvation, redemption, …) but presented in new, unexpected lights given that fantasy world’s context.

I don’t think I got far enough in the series to come across institution-bashing, fortunately…

Hard to remember specifically—but there was one worldbuilding element that was very interesting to me, maybe it wasn’t in the first book. Some kind of spiritual dream-walking thing that I think was drawn from Native American lore and seemed to be accepted with some ambiguity in the books, not shown to be blatantly and 100% evil. But I might be mistaken, it’s been a while.

I don’t remember this, but I know I did find the bloodvoicing magic interesting…at least, the idea of it interesting. I was a bit disappointed in how the magic wound up being used. Here you have magic that lets you communicate instantly across long distances and read people’s minds – incredibly powerful and full of possible repercussions for society, not to mention all the intriguing potential plots and themes. (And it has a cool name. “Bloodvoicing”! Love that.) But the magic and its implications weren’t really developed, in favor of a focus on characters who I didn’t find particularly compelling. Oh well.

I guess the general thing that bothered me about By Darkness Hid was that it had a lot of interesting ideas and a lot of potential, but the ideas were all sort of mishmashed together without much cohesion or development. Maybe it improved with later books; I don’t know. Anyways, I’m glad some of you enjoyed it! I’m still searching for a modern Christian fantasy author that I can really get into.

Paul Lee
Member

I guess the general thing that bothered me about By Darkness Hid was that it had a lot of interesting ideas and a lot of potential, but the ideas were all sort of mishmashed together without much cohesion or development. Maybe it improved with later books; I don’t know.

That’s a solid analysis. To Darkness Fled is easily the best of the series, I think, and it can be truly brilliant. The journey through Darkness is fantastic, and some of the high concepts in the series as a whole are wonderfully iconic and memorable. But To Darkness Fled pushed some of my personal buttons in regard to its depiction of evangelicalism and getting saved, etc.

I think you and I share some perspectives on fantasy and faith-based themes in fantasy. I would like to suggest Curse Bearer by Rebecca P. Minor. The protagonist of that story (who is female) relates closely to the experience of growing up in a Christian home, struggling with angst and doubt and with being misunderstood. Achan from Blood of Kings is a convert hero, whose testimony is dark and gritty in exactly the standard ways that makes it so conventionally heroic from an evangelical perspective—something that our personal experiences can probably never be. (I don’t say this to insult Achan or The Blood of Kings. He was exactly the right character of exactly the right fantasy story for someone, just not for me.)

If you’re interested, I wrote a review of Curse Bearer for this website.

sheesania
Guest

Thank you very much for the recommendation; I really appreciate informed recommendations like this, since I don’t know many people in real life who read Christian fantasy. The review was also very helpful. I’ll have to see if I can get my hands on that book…without a library or a mailing address it can be tricky to get a hold of physical books!

Paul Lee
Member

I’m sorry. I’d forgotten. It seems Curse Bearer is temporarily out of print. I’m hoping it will be re-released soon!

Adam David Collings
Guest

My copy appeared on my kindle today. Looking forward to reading it.

E. Stephen Burnett
Guest

Somewhat related: as of this morning it was revealed that Chinese scientists want to celebrate the life and stories of Jill Williamson.

AFP: China ‘clone factory’ scientist eyes human replication

Leah Burchfiel
Member
Leah Burchfiel

[insert joke about the Chinese not having enough people yet?]

 

(Creepy thought: China’s 1-child policy has lead to a huge imbalance between male:female ratios, and so now I’m imagining a dystopian thing where women are cloned as literal mail (okay, maybe more like email, but whatevs) order brides. Except that’s almost the plot to Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence [nowhere near as good as the first, but interesting to look at, at least])

Pam Halter
Member

SWEET!!  Can’t wait to read this!

Jill Williamson
Guest

Thanks so much for the article, Zachary. I’m glad you enjoyed the story. 🙂

Victoria Grace Howell
Guest

I second Zachary’s opinion. ^ ^ I really enjoyed the first installment and I’m looking forward to reading the others. The worldbuilding for the book is just fantastic. ^ ^

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