**spoiler alert** Carey is my favorite author, and she does not disappoint with this latest book in the Kushiel Legacy series. This is the second book**spoiler alert** Carey is my favorite author, and she does not disappoint with this latest book in the Kushiel Legacy series. This is the second book in the third trilogy, and the main character Moirin Mac Fanche of the Maghuin Dhonn continues to pursue her unique destiny as she grows into her own strengths and learns more of the world that she traverses. While Carey's original main character, Phedre, will always be the one I measure all others by throughout this world, the differences that Moirin provides are not uncomfortable and show the other side of the coin, with a gentler and softer approach to the D'Angeline belief, "Love as thou wilt." I especially like when Moirin reflects on the legend of Phedre and how different she is from the great heroine, such as her acknowledging her lack of linguistic skills or her refusal to go after the Spider Queen alone. Moirin spends the majority of the book tracking down Bao, who possesses the other half of her diadh-anam, but even in this seemingly selfish path, her destiny still sneaks in to use her in ways that will further a message of love over hatred and abuse of power and control, taking advantage of her unique abilities as a child of the Maghuin Dhonn as well as a child of a D'Angeline priest. I have to say the number of "gods" that Moirin claims to be using her can get rather numerous and confusing, especially when she gets to Bhodistan and is taken from temple to temple to temple by the Rani. I find Moirin's perspective of the different religious beliefs that she encounters quite enlightening, as she completely lacks in any skepticism and believes whole-heartedly that they are all true. While in real life such beliefs can be considered laughably naive, Carey makes such scenarios both believable and beautiful in ways that make me appreciate her writing all the more. Carey could make each of these books twice as long and I would still read each one with delight. The characters are unique, intriguing, memorable, even if I intensely dislike them. The settings are like shadows of places I already know in this world, but with just enough difference to make me want to travel to each one and never leave. The plot is at times suspenseful, exciting, tantalizing, and even heart-breaking, but always completely captivating. While I could dissect this book, taking apart sub-plots and impaling different characters, I loved this book so much I see no real need for it. Suffice it to say that if you have not read Jacqueline Carey before, do it. You won't regret it.
**spoiler alert** I found this book to be a very satisfying continuation of Lady Cassidy's story from The Shadow Queen (Black Jewels, Book 7). Even th**spoiler alert** I found this book to be a very satisfying continuation of Lady Cassidy's story from The Shadow Queen (Black Jewels, Book 7). Even though a Bishop wields a substantial cast of characters between the pages of this book, each character is given his or her time in the spotlight, from my series favorites, such as Surreal and Daemon, to newer characters like Gray and Ranon. Each one has a subplot to work through, yet all loose ends are resolved quite neatly. I enjoyed how the plot would switch seamlessly between the story arcs of Cassidy's realm and Jaenelle's realm without taking away from either.
This book seemed to give the reader a glimpse into how the tainting of the Blood occurred by how good men could become bound to bad Queens. Kermilla played the role perfectly by how naive and self-centered she behaved, making her completely oblivious to the trouble she was creating. It is easy to see what Theran sees in her, because it is clear to me that were she to ever learn to use her strengths for the good of others instead of herself, she could become a very powerful force. Though I could not stand Kermilla from the very beginning, I think her character has too much potential not to use her in further books in the Black Jewels series.
The Kindred of the Blood continue to take a vital role in the progression of the plot, which I find both ingenious and quite humorous, as they are unpredictable in many ways. With the Kindred involved, there is guaranteed to be surprises - both good and bad. I could easily see a Kindred-centered novella come out of this book.
My favorite part of this book was watching the transformation of Gray into Jared Blaed as him and Cassidy fall in love. The progression is slow without feeling dragged out, and each stage has its rewards, with his casual relationship with Jaenelle's inner circle, as well as his introduction into Cassidy's circle. I'm a bit disappointed that Bishop did not create a way for Gray to gain the power he missed out on the first time, simply because it feels like he was punished for what he had no control over in his past.
I also love the humor that Bishop interjects so effortlessly into the plot, such as the interactions between Ranon and Gray and the rest of Jaenelle's court. The same old chemistry is still there with all of the "former court," and I have to wonder if the references to her court don't indicate a coming change in future books. I greatly look forward to the next installment in the Black Jewels series, Twilight's Dawn: A Black Jewels Book.