Darkness Reigns by Jill Williamson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I read this book thinking that I would humour it - I got it for free, Jill Williamson offering a free copy, like many indy authors do. A review wasn't expected, but I'm going to give one because I now want to read this whole series! I really enjoyed this story that can only get deeper as the story goes on.
Living in a Polytheist society can be tough, especially when that society also celebrates distinct class lines and actions that keep the poor poorer. The kings of the land are making sacrifices to the Gods, well one God in particular, Barthos, and that is not what everyone believes is right, especially not Wilek the young prince who can remember watching is father the king sacrifice his own son to said God and still with little result. Even though Wilek has convinced his father that the sacrifices should not be children and innocents, but those who are criminals and convicted of crimes, he still feels great guilt and suffering at the thought of these men that his father is sending to their death in The Gray.
Wilek bucks tradition on many levels. He has fallen in love with his concubine, Lebetta, but that love is not to be no matter how many times she tries to make it more that just the relationship they have. Wilek is promised to Lady Zeroah, and no marriage can be made between a concubine and a prince. He wants to be heir, he wants to be the one of the sons his father chooses to lead the realm, but he doesn't want to rock the boat so much that that will be hindered. He wants to change laws, change the way things are, but he doesn't feel powerful enough to do anything at the moment. I want to see him find that power.
By contrast, Mielle becomes the honour maiden to Lady Zeroah. She feels powerless to right the wrongs that she sees in the world. When she finally finds someone she believes to be good, a man that she could love with all her heart, she's faced with the gut wrenching knowledge that she can never have him due to the way the society is created. Trevn doesn't even realize until she tells him, screams it at him, but he feels the same about her and I can't wait to see what he will do to be able to make it possible for them to be together. He is said to change laws and this is the one that I will have my eyes on.
Lady Zeroah wants to be the only one for her future husband, to be certain that she is the only one that he loves and she does want him to love her. She wants him to turn from the polygamous ways of the old kings, to decline the harems and to only choose her as his queen. I want her to be able to do this - because she wants to make the kingdom a better place.
Then there is the cult of empowered magical women... Oh yeah, I know I should find it distressing that a group of powerful women are the "bad guys" here, but I don't think it's them I think it's one of them. Specifically Mreegan. I think Charlon would be the better leader, leading with compassion, but Magon needs Mreegan for something, to make something happen.
I have this feeling that we're looking at something intricate that is about to happen. I can't wait to read more now!
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