Although this is the first book in Kelley Armstrong's young adult series I still enjoyed it. I did find it hard to get into at the beginning but event...moreAlthough this is the first book in Kelley Armstrong's young adult series I still enjoyed it. I did find it hard to get into at the beginning but eventually I got lost in it and read it in one sitting.
The Darkest Powers series is set in the same world as the Women of the Otherworld series and it shows more towards the end. I was a little surprised that this book was similar to Stolen, the second book in the Women of the Otherworld series but it was different enough that it was still worth reading. When I got to the end I was stunned to realise that it was a cliffhanger and was desperate to read more though I understand this to be part of a trilogy so more of a part one of three, something that I'm not used to with Kelley's books. I will definitely be buying the second book. (less)
Despite the fact that this was quite a good book and the first in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, I couldn't quite bring myself to give it 4 star...moreDespite the fact that this was quite a good book and the first in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, I couldn't quite bring myself to give it 4 stars because I was strongly reminded of Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark-Hunter series. I can even match the characters - Ward's Wrath is a bit like Kenyon's Acheron, Zsadist like Zarek, Thorment like Kyrian. I really enjoyed the mythology in the Dark-Hunter series and maybe I was expecting too much from the first book in this series but it felt like it was missing something.(less)
The Black Jewels Trilogy is an amazingly complex good-versus-evil dark fantasy trilogy which sends you on a highly strung rollercoaster of emotions. T...moreThe Black Jewels Trilogy is an amazingly complex good-versus-evil dark fantasy trilogy which sends you on a highly strung rollercoaster of emotions. The trilogy is made up of the three books: Daughter of the Blood, Heir to the Shadows and Queen of Darkness.
The world that Anne Bishop creates is a matriarchal society led by queens and based on the caste system of the Blood jewels. There are queens of villages, towns, districts and provinces. The hierarchy dictates that a village queen serves the town queen, the town queen serves the district queen and the district queen serves the province queen. The Blood Jewels caste system relates to the amount of power or magic that a person or animal (Kindred) has. There are landens, those without magic and the Blood those with magic. The Blood are given jewels which represent their power level: birthright jewels and the jewels given after they make their offering to the Darkness – this is usually a darker jewel than their birthright jewel. The darker the jewel the more powerful the person / animal.
Daughter of the Blood charts the emergence of Jaenelle Angelline (‘Witch’, ‘Dreams Made Flesh’) through the viewpoints of Daemon Sadi (‘The Sadist’) and Lucivar Yaslana – half brothers and their estranged father, Saetan Daemon SaDiablo – the High Lord of Hell. Both Saetan and Daemon are the only ones to wear the Black the most powerful jewel before Jaenelle comes into the picture. There are three realms: Terrielle, Kaeleer (‘The Shadow realm’) and Hell. Saetan rules Hell and protects Kaeleer. Daemon and Lucivar are pleasure slaves in the court of Dorothea, the self- appointed high priestess of Hayll. She is not a queen and only queens are supposed to rule. She craves power so much that she corrupts the realm of Terreille by destroying all of the powerful queens and effectively destroying the harmonious relationship which is supposed to exist between the queens and their males, the most powerful of which are called Warlord Princes. The males are supposed to choose whom they serve and serve by their own will. Instead Dorothea rules by fear, the females fear being ‘broken’, losing their magic either through breaking their mental shields with magic or by rape. If broken badly enough they can be lost to the Twisted Kingdom (a place of mental insanity) or even die. The males fear being ‘shaved’ (becoming eunuchs)for Dorothea's entertainment (outside of Terreille this can be a punishment for rape).
As a seven year old child Jaenelle Angelline asks Saetan to be her mentor, to teach her craft, when he sees that her birthright jewels are the Black and that she not only holds one but many he agrees. During the next few years she goes missing and Saetan attempts to find her but there is one place where the dead cannot enter. Jaenelle has protected against him. Dorothea with the help of Hekatah, Saetan's evil ex-wife, she finds out about Saetan's new obsession and sets out to either destroy Jaenelle or lure her to their side.
In Heir to the Darkness, more than two years have passed Jaenelle is still in the abyss that is the Black, she is fearful and will not return to her body. When she finally comes out of her coma she does not remember the trauma that precipitated it. Saetan does his best to help her heal by inviting her old friends to visit her, which helps her find herself again. Meanwhile Daemon is looking for Jaenelle, unable to remember what he has done, only remembering the blood on his hands. He worries he has killed Jaenelle. He goes to break his brother Lucivar out of a prison camp but is met with hostility. Lucivar was told that Daemon raped and killed Jaenelle and says as much to Daemon who runs off and becomes lost to the Twisted Kingdom tormented by what he believes he has done.
When the Dark Council come to believe, through Dorothea's manipulations, that Saetan is harming Jaenelle they attempt to take her away from him, she fights back in the most extraordinary way which leaves the council begging. Lucivar breaks out of the salt mines and makes for his homeland battered and broken. He is found by Jaenelle and Saetan who over the course of many months help him heal. He becomes Jaenelle’s protector, even protecting her from herself. After many attacks on her friends from the Kindred lands Jaenelle is forced to make her Offering to the Darkness and comes out with the unheard of Ebony jewels, she sets up her own court and becomes Queen of Kaeleer, the most powerful Queen there has ever been in order to protect them. Eventually Jaenelle remembers what happened to her and can’t believe that she forgot Daemon. She goes into the Twisted Kingdom and leaves a trail for him to follow with the promise of the Consort’s Ring and that she will be there when he comes out.
In Queen of Darkness, people are pouring into Kaeleer from Terrielle desperately trying to escape a society where rape and torture are apart of everyday life. Jaenelle is reunited with Daemon but Dorothea and Hekatah have found a way to get the power they have always craved, Terreille will go to war with Kaeleer but will Kaeleer go to war with Terreille? No? Then who will go to war with Terreille? Witch. But will she survive? After all, 'Everything has a price'.
This book (or books) may be too macabre for some but it takes the very worst and the very best that humanity has to offer and sends the reader on a fantastic journey. There are manipulations and misunderstandings aplenty with some doing evil because they are evil and some doing evil in order to do good. Your expectations of the characters are twisted especially with Saetan Daemon SaDiablo, the High Lord of Hell and his two sons Daemon Sadi and Lucivar Yaslana being good guys, who would have guessed!
This trilogy is both terrifyingly sadistic and beautifully triumphant. And at times it can be hilariously funny. I would say this trilogy is a cross between Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel trilogies and Trudi Canavan’s Black Magician’s trilogy. This is definitely one of the best books I have ever read. (less)
Yelena was convicted of murdering a General’s son and was sentenced to death. As she is walking to her death she is redirected to Valek’s (chief of se...moreYelena was convicted of murdering a General’s son and was sentenced to death. As she is walking to her death she is redirected to Valek’s (chief of security) office where she is offered a choice: the noose or becoming the food taster for the Commander. Only the next convict sent to their death after the predecessor has died can become the new food taster as it is a death sentence anyway. Yelena accepts Valek’s offer but she is not only in danger from possible poisons in the Commander’s food but her life is threatened by the grieving General whose son she killed.
When Yelena was convicted no one knew her motive for the murder so everyone believes she is a cold-blooded killer, though Valek rightly begins to suspect otherwise. In this society any unnatural death is murder and therefore the punishment is always execution.
I was intrigued by the political structure in this society. The monarchy was overthrown by the current Commander and a new military structure was put into place. It seems like a very communist society for example, every child at age 12 is assigned a job based on their skills and is entered into training and every person must wear a uniform according to their political and social standing. This is very different to most of the fantasy books I have read.
Yelena was very well written. She is a victim to begin with, she would run away at the first sign of trouble but as she is put in more and more danger she decides to find people to teach her some fighting skills. She becomes more confident and stands up to those that are bullying her.
This is a very easy to read fantasy with plenty of action and adventure as well as a slow burning romance. A brilliant start to the Study series. (less)