CSFF Blog Tour – By Darkness Hid, Day 2

One of the good things about the CSFF Blog Tours that I’ve discovered is the fact that I am more purposeful in my reading. I think about the books we feature because I know I’m going to be interacting with other readers.

In preparation for this month’s tour featuring By Darkness Hid (Marcher Lord Press, 2009), Book One of the Blood of Kings series by Jill Williamson, I ended up rereading the book. Since I knew the plot line already, I found myself freed up to notice other parts and pieces of the story.

Honestly, I’m surprised at how much I missed the first time around. I suspect that’s because By Darkness Hid is a fast-paced story with lots of intrigue. A page-turner. So I read fast—after all, the prose flows nicely as it paints clear pictures of the setting and action. But in so doing, I missed some of the nuances.

One of the things I missed first time around was the explanation of Darkness. The setting of By Darkness Hid is the Kingdom of Er’Rets, a land literally divided in two by a wall of gray mist. On one side was Darkness and on the other Light, in which the sun shone in the day and set at night. (To better understand, check out the header of Jill’s Official Web Site).

All that I understood, but I missed what caused Darkness. When the good and well-loved King Axel and his wife were killed, Darkness set in. In addition, many believe that when the boy prince comes of age and takes the throne, Darkness will be pushed back.

Another thing I completely missed was the reference to the son-god, Câan. In this world there is One True God and many idols. While few people, at least in the duchy in which most of the story occurs, follow the Way, a few do. Others mock by saying such things as “Who would worship a God whose Son could be killed by men?” Clearly the religion of the Blood of Kings series intends to evoke Christianity.

One topic I brushed past but which should engender more thought was the theme of treating others with respect. The socio-political aspect of Er’Rets is a quasi-caste system based on serfdom. People fall into different classes—royalty, nobility, merchants, peasants (servants), and strays (slaves). While some embrace the pecking order, others seem able to ignore it or to rise above it.

The key ingredient is power, and wealth seems to be a by-product. Those in control maintain their position by intimidation and manipulation, or by generating respect and loyalty. The contrast is stark, and it’s evident at every level—among the lower classes as well as among those vying for political power.

Today, in real life, with primary elections looming on the horizon, it’s interesting for me to think about those seeking office in light of these two opposing positions. Which candidates seem to be putting themselves forward through intimidation or manipulation? Which by earning respect and generating loyalty?

Clearly there’s more to say about By Darkness Hid, but I’ll save that for tomorrow.

Just a reminder to stop by the blogs of other tour participants. You can see the list at the end of yesterday’s post. One you won’t want to miss is the terrific interview with Jill at New Authors Fellowship.

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