Book Write-Up: King’s Folly, by Jill Williamson

Jill Williamson.  King’s Folly.  Minneapolis: Bethany House, 2016.  See here to buy the book.

King’s Folly is the first book of the “Kinsman Chronicles” series.  It is actually a combination of three novellas: Darkness Reigns, The Heir War, and The End of All Things.  I checked this book out from the library because Bethany House will be sending me a copy of the book’s sequel.

This is a fantasy work.  At the beginning of the book, author Jill Williamson has provided a list of key characters.  She lists them by country and tells us who they are.  She also provides in that section a list of the gods and goddesses who will be mentioned in this book.  There is also a map at the beginning.

The main country in this book is Armania.  There are earthquakes, which are partly a result of the greedy mining of unstable land, but which many believe is the result of divine retribution.  King Echad of Armania is sacrificing people to Barthos, the god of the earth/soil.  Prince Wilek believes that his father is superstitious.  Meanwhile, there is dispute about who will succeed Echad: Wilek is an option, but so is the sinister Janek, who may not even be the son of Echad but rather the son of the court wizard; there is also a prophecy in the sacred books that a Messiah from outside of Armania will rule it.  The religious landscape of Armania is featured in this book.  Arman is the father god, and there is a belief among some that he alone should be worshiped.  But that belief was supplanted by those in the establishment who were against privileging one god, thinking this would make the god power-hungry.  They advise people to select five gods to worship.

Trevn is another son of Echad and is in love with Mielle, the servant of Lady Zeroah of the land of Sarikar.  He receives helpful love advice.  Zeroah is to marry Wilek, as a way to foster an alliance between the two countries, but Wilek is unsure how exactly to interact with her.

Another country is Magonia.  Charlon flees there from kidnappers and will become heir to the queen herself.  The queen has a close relationship with Magon, the goddess of magic, and Charlon must develop that relationship as well.  There is a prophecy that a great figure from Magon will pose a threat to Armania.

The world that this book portrays is intriguing, and there are endearing scenes.  The writing-style could be rather dry, and I had to pay close attention to know what was going on.  The prose was simple enough, but I was not always sure what was happening.  I’ve had difficulty getting into a lot of the fantasy books that I have read: I do finish them, but I get lost when I am reading them.  The book was a rather comfortable read, though.

While the book did get into religion, I was wondering what exactly was so praiseworthy about Arman.  He comes across as a jealous, wrathful deity, who is causing the earthquakes because people don’t worship him only.  Of course, people can say that sounds like the biblical god.  But perhaps the biblical God can be rehabilitated by adding other considerations: God realizes that only God can fulfill us and does not want us to worship what is inferior.  This book presented other gods as dead-ends, or as roads to undesirable destinations, but it did not explain, as far as I can recall, why Arman is worthy of praise.

The next book should be interesting.

This review is informal and quickly-written.  Please keep that in mind after reading it.


About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. I study the History of Biblical Interpretation at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio, as part of its Ph.D. program. I have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting.
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