Ok so I couldn't wait for the actual book to arrive so I downloaded the ebook. It was totally worth it.
Whereas Storm Born was about Eugenie discoveri...moreOk so I couldn't wait for the actual book to arrive so I downloaded the ebook. It was totally worth it.
Whereas Storm Born was about Eugenie discovering her heritage and inheriting two titles (one by birth and one by accident), three months later Thorn Queen sees her realising that no matter how much she doesn't want to be a gentry queen she is one and she needs to take responsibility for the land and it's people, half assed as she does it in this. When she sees that the people are starving because of the way the land has conformed to her vision of what she calls "home", the desert of Tuscan, she decides she needs to help them discover water and find ways of growing food but she doesn't want to get too involved because she still sees herself as human and not as a queen. Doing this is an odd experience for her as she's approached by the people with fear and awe due to her parentage and the way in which she killed her predecessor, who did not care a jot about the affairs of those beneath him.
Eugenie's world may be quite narrow in terms of the number of characters and their backgrounds but with characters that there are, are varied - though I would like more personal history on each of them, this is my only criticism.
In this, Kiyo's relationship with Maiwen strains his relationship with Eugenie as does his naivity that she can just ignore the people she's supposed to be ruling, the hard decisions that need to be made as a ruler and her raw unpredictable power. I predicted that he was dangerous for Eugenie but Thorn Queen really demonstrated the numerous reasons why he wasn't just a selfish idealist but an idiot as well.
Dorian is on the opposite end of the scale. He's a fellow ruler so he understands politics, the need to care for your people and the necessity for Eugenie to be trained in her magic so as not to become a danger to herself or others. He also understood that after her traumatic experience she would need space and time to recover. Despite his agenda, he truly cares for Eugenie and was willing to start a war to protect her honour and carries out vengeance on her behalf, whereas Kiyo just stood by and judged Eugenie for using her magic against someone who'd violated her, he never even considered killing the b*stard himself. As Eugenie states:
Kiyo had failed me. Dorian would not.
I applaud Richelle Mead for the way she protrays relationships between her characters, they are completely believable. I think Iron Crowned will see Eugenie fully embrace her new responsibilites as Thorn Queen and as Storm Queen as she prepares to go to war with the faithful Dorian at her side. (less)
Apart from deus ex machina (so it's 4½ ★), this was a brilliant read. Killing off a much-loved character is a brave thing to do and in this instance i...moreApart from deus ex machina (so it's 4½ ★), this was a brilliant read. Killing off a much-loved character is a brave thing to do and in this instance it was beautiful sacrifice worthy of that character, if heartbreaking and gory.
The level of grace displayed by Kate in both her physical battles and in her position as alpha, fighting for the people that depend on her and those she deeply cares for, is inspiring. And as always, Ilona and Gordon always bring the funny.(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)
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)
Another good book from Kim Harrison. This is the 6th book in the series. In this instalment we get closer to finding out who murdered Kisten and what...moreAnother good book from Kim Harrison. This is the 6th book in the series. In this instalment we get closer to finding out who murdered Kisten and what Trent's father really did when he cured Rachel as a child. We get to meet Rachel's mother who has been keeping a secret all of Rachel's life which has been affecting her mental health but once it's out in the open she seems a lot better. Rachel seems to think that her mother is harmless would be mortified if she knew anything about Rachel's life but in fact she's fiesty and surprisingly understanding.
There are a couple of threads to this book, one where Ceri falls pregnant and to ensure the child is born healthy they need a pure sample of elf DNA which can only be found in the ever-after. And the other is about Al being summoned out of his prison cell in the ever-after and set free to reek havoc every night. He comes straight for Rachel and attempts to kill her. She has to find away to keep him from hurting her and her family and friends.
I really enjoyed this one especially when we get see Trent so helpless despite all of his money. (less)
I was strongly reminded of the Psy/Changeling series, one of my favourites, by Nalini Singh especially the first book Slave to Sensation, when reading...moreI was strongly reminded of the Psy/Changeling series, one of my favourites, by Nalini Singh especially the first book Slave to Sensation, when reading Tempting the Enemy. The Sibile are comparable to the Psy, they believe themselves to be the superior race with incredible psychic abilities and look down on humans and shifters who in this have been hunted by humans almost to extinction.
At the beginning I was worried this was going to be love at first sight, or in this case scent but I was wrong. It's lust at first sight mostly due to Jade going into heat in Pale's presence but luckily for her he was a gentlemen and could control his urges around her unlike others who wouldn't hesitate to rape her, but it turns into a slow seduction instead as Pale and Jade work together to catch a savage and elusive serial killer.
I really enjoyed this and I'm hungry for more. I want to follow the new pack's progress and watch the forthcoming attack and subsequent human war on the Sebile, I only hope Jalla and Sage survive that conflict. Sequel please? Pretty please?(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)
So good. Much better than On the Edge. I really liked the length, it almost felt like two books in one.
I loved William and his struggles with his wol...moreSo good. Much better than On the Edge. I really liked the length, it almost felt like two books in one.
I loved William and his struggles with his wolf, the Rending and his attempts in understanding what is acceptable behaviour and what's seen as "normal". He's a tortured soul who's never been treated well or even with respect but he always does his best to respect others unless they don't deserve it.
Cerise has also had a hard time of it, with her responsibility for her family, her warrior-like disposition and bad luck with men. She was hilarious as the Hobo Queen but as Cerise, head of the family, she's a very sympathetic character.
I liked the acceptance of violence done by each other between Cerise and William. I'm smiling just thinking of the way Cerise was saying how good Lord Bill had been about keeping it all in (when he was experiencing the Rending) to Richard and he was looking at them both like they were crazy.
I also loved Kaldar. When he stepped on that mine I thought he was a goner. That magic betting trick rocks! He was funny but I liked him all the more after his conversation with Richard about Cerise taking on all that responsibility. I look forward to reading more about this charismatic swindler in his book which comes next.
The little tête-a-tête with Cerise and Rose -who's got the most screwed up family? Jack vs. Lark (I hope we get to see more of Jack & Lark -love them both, I could see them getting together in the future). Of course in the end, Cerise would win with all her other kooky family members. Although we never found out which members lived to the end, we're just told about 15 made it, not who, which I was sad about. I came to love Cerise's family -a very tight-knit but loving clan. The ending was quite rushed and finished abruptly. I wanted more.
There were a few classic PNR characteristics in this one. For instance, when William found out how rich he was when all along he believed he had no money but I just rolled my eyes and moved on because generally this is still a very unique and original story. 4.5 stars.(less)