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)
Cast in Secret follows on a few days after the second book in the series, Cast in Courtlight. In this instalment a prophetic dream so strong that all...moreCast in Secret follows on a few days after the second book in the series, Cast in Courtlight. In this instalment a prophetic dream so strong that all of the Oracles even the apprentices receive the same vision, the end of life itself. One very powerful Oracle focuses on Kaylin and begins painting a picture of her on his wall. He is so powerful that he is disabled by his gift. He doesn't speak, he doesn't sleep and he doesn't react like a normal person, his only form of expression is drawing and painting so Kaylin and co. have to determine who or what could be behind this and how to stop it.
Kaylin learns more about the Tha'alani, a telepathic race who can search a person's memory which most find unnerving including Kaylin, and to a lesser extent the Dragons and the Oracles. Kaylin sees Severn in a slightly different light as a Wolf instead of as a Hawk but also how he approaches the Tha'alani - without fear and with a little envy I think. She also learns more about herself, and of the others that have had the marks she has. We are introduced to the elements earth, air, fire and water with the emphasis on water but I won't go into this as I don't want to give anything away.
In every book so far (this is the third - the first being Cast in Shadow and the second, Cast in Courtlight) Kaylin has been working through her harrowing past and has been trying to move on. We see her grow not just in her power but as a person and that for me made this an interesting read.
There is still plenty of danger surrounding Kaylin especially since it looks like she will be meeting the Dragon Emperor soon. I really enjoyed learning about the Tha'alani, and their history as a people, they are a very interesting race. This series is progressing really well and I'm looking forward to reading the next book, Cast in Fury. (less)
This is the fourth book in the series and takes place almost immediately after the last book, Cast in Secret. Each book seems to have a theme. The fir...moreThis is the fourth book in the series and takes place almost immediately after the last book, Cast in Secret. Each book seems to have a theme. The first, Cast in Shadow was about the life and struggles of the main character Kaylin Neya and her relationship with Severn, her sort-of adopted older brother. The second, Cast in Courtlight examines the Barrani race and their customs. The third, Cast in Secret examines the Tha'alani race and their history. This book examines the Leontine race, where we get to meet Marcus's pridlea (his family) and we gain more insight into Marrin's life before she founded the Foundling Hall (an orphanage).
Again this story is based around Kaylin's love of children and the fact that she will do anything to protect them but this doesn't take anything away from the story. There wasn't a lot of character growth in this one (but then we've had quite a lot in the other books) other than Kaylin finally being able to keep her mouth shut, stopping herself from getting into (most likely, more) trouble.
Through the markings on her body Kaylin seems to be tied to the Old Ones who created the races and is thereby connected to the races themselves. It looks like the author maybe looking to set Severn up as an 'appropriate' love interest for Kaylin despite the brotherly relationship she has with him, on the otherhand Nightshade seems very interested but Kaylin does her best to ignore it which is probably for the best.
Overall this was another interesting read with a lovely ending. The world, races and characters that the author has created are so detailed and intricately woven together with natural character growth and plot progression, make this series seem so realistic. I hope we get to read more about the Dragons next and maybe even meet the Dragon Emperor himself. (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)
This is the 5th book in the Chronicle of Elantra and it pains me to give this one 3 stars but it has to be done. It covers the period of 6 months afte...moreThis is the 5th book in the Chronicle of Elantra and it pains me to give this one 3 stars but it has to be done. It covers the period of 6 months after Kaylin left Nightshade and before she entered the city and began working fot the Hawks.
I found this novel to be much slower in pace than the others and reached an ending which I saw coming (but was still good). The slow pace is the result of a lot of psychological and philosophical discussion which sometimes left me a bit confused.
I admit that it took me longer to reach the end than normal and did seriously consider giving up on it. It felt more like an 'in-between' book rather than a full novel which sets the scene for the next one.
It also breaks with the general themes of the others in the series, the first focuses on the back story of the main characters whereas the others focus on the ins and outs of each of the races, one at a time, within the world Sagara has created. I expected this one to either be about the Aerians, some new race or the Dragon Emperor. Unfortunately I was disappointed. Hopefully the next in the series, CAST IN CHAOS will be better.
A beautifully warm and well-written light fantasy for all ages to enjoy with a twist worthy of an M. Night Shyamalan film ('Sixth Sense' and 'Unbreaka...moreA beautifully warm and well-written light fantasy for all ages to enjoy with a twist worthy of an M. Night Shyamalan film ('Sixth Sense' and 'Unbreakable'). My only complaint would be that I would have liked the ending to have been extended to when Fiona finally comes home to Reed, I guess I'll just have to imagine it. (less)
I found it quite hard to get into this, but about halfway through it picked up a bit. The main character, Raine Benares, reminds me a little of Anita...moreI found it quite hard to get into this, but about halfway through it picked up a bit. The main character, Raine Benares, reminds me a little of Anita Blake (the creation of Laurell K Hamilton) a wise-cracking, brave, protective and independent woman. However, Raine has a tendency to wise-crack a little too much, and she finds the dangerous goblins beautiful. The description of the goblins made me instantly think of vampires, with the long canines and deadly grace. On the whole, it was slow starting and it has a few kinks in it, but it wasn't bad for a first book. I'll be reading the next one.(less)
This is a wonderful sequel to [Book:Poison Study], which I read this from start to finish in one session. The natural progression of the story as well...moreThis is a wonderful sequel to [Book:Poison Study], which I read this from start to finish in one session. The natural progression of the story as well as great character development hold this book to the same standards as it predecessor.
Janco and Ari who appear in the first book provide the comic relief in this one, a new character Cahil provides some mystery and becomes a short-lived love interest, and new friend Dax who loves to tell Yelena of the astounding rumours about her as they crop up.
I loved Yelena's close relationship with Cahil's horse Topaz and her own incredibly loyal horse Kiki and their love of apples and peppermints.
I felt the Commander was ingenious in his/her disguise as an Ambassador visiting Sitia, with only Yelena knowing the truth of his/her identity. I also liked the way the Commander handled Yelena's order of excution - a very wise decision was made.
Valek was as ruthless as always still protecting Yelena the best he can at risk to his own life. Yelena's ability to get below Valek's tough magic-immune exterior is nice but we still do not know much about Valek's past for me to truly love him as a character.
As for Yelena herself, her Soul-Finder status was brilliantly put across. Her compassion towards the beggar boy Fisk and his friends, the way she reached the catatonic Tula when others had given up on her, her ability to forgive her brother Leif and helping him heal his soul and her extraordinary ability to comfort and heal others is what makes this book worthy of all the praise it deserves.(less)
I enjoyed the wild ride of the first two in the trilogy but I could not get into the whole Fire Warper thing in this one. Other than that this was a v...moreI enjoyed the wild ride of the first two in the trilogy but I could not get into the whole Fire Warper thing in this one. Other than that this was a very interesting series. (less)
**spoiler alert** After the twists in The Safe-Keeper’s Secret nothing in this second book came as a surprise. It was obvious the newcomers from the r...more**spoiler alert** After the twists in The Safe-Keeper’s Secret nothing in this second book came as a surprise. It was obvious the newcomers from the royal city were the missing prince and his cousin. I was very happy with the story up until they arrived in part 2. For some reason I couldn’t bring myself to like Gregory (Tobin).
I loved the twins Adele, a safe-keeper and Eleda, a truth-teller - mirror images of one another (one left-handed, the other right, both have one green eye and one blue but in different eyes) yet so different. I liked that Eleda’s ability to ascertain truth from lie failed to work when she fell for Edgar’s charms, blinded by love and blind to the truth of him. The guilt and shame she felt when she learned what he did to another girl on the night she was supposed to secretly meet him.
Fiona’s appearance in this left me wondering how things were with Reed. I wanted to know if they were living happily ever after. It was interesting to see Fiona’s mother Melinda in her role as the dream-maker though I wouldn’t have minded seeing mother and daughter interacting.
This is the first Neil Gaiman book I have read and I’m sad to say I’m disappointed. Though it’s highly regarded I found it to be rather boring. I was...moreThis is the first Neil Gaiman book I have read and I’m sad to say I’m disappointed. Though it’s highly regarded I found it to be rather boring. I was tempted to abandon it after 50 pages but I persevered. The only reason why I’m giving this two stars instead of one is that the original idea was good and there were parts that drew me in but then it always lost me again.
The story was disjointed and episodic in nature. It went off in different directions that were either not resolved or unsatisfactorily explained. The lack of realism in the fact that I doubt a baby could crawl out of its cot, out of the house and down the road into a graveyard at what must have been lightening speed not to be caught by the man Jack, was ill conceived. Also the reason for Bod’s family’s death didn’t seem feasible or at least wasn’t revealed in enough detail, especially the workings of the Jack-of-all-trades.
It's almost as if Gaiman's popularity (and therefore money-making ability) meant that the publishers rushed to publish this book without so much as glancing at it first, when really they should've hired a team of editors to help whip it into shape fit enough for public consumption.
I feel this will serve better as a movie rather than a book. I hear it has been recently picked up by writer/director Neil Jordan (Interview with the Vampire, The Company of Wolves) and is due out in 2011. I look forward to seeing how he transfers The Graveyard Book to the silver screen hopefully updating and expanding on this poor book. (less)