**spoiler alert** This book reads like it was originally a collection of related short stories put together into one longer books, much like Oathbound...more**spoiler alert** This book reads like it was originally a collection of related short stories put together into one longer books, much like Oathbound felt to me, only in this case Lackey managed to avoid the problems that Oathbound faced. The transitions from section to section are smooth, little to no repetition, and by the end it felt very much like I had been with the main character on one long adventure, the ending of which really couldn't be foretold at the beginning.
However, this book was not without its flaws. Some things were only briefly touched on that could have been easily expanded into something much more exciting and interesting (Gwyna's time as a caged bird springs instantly to mind), while others sometimes felt a little drawn out. The pacing was okay, but not great, and could have easily been improved. Some of the romance felt rather contrived, too (Gwyna and Sional fall madly in love and yet there's precious little interaction between them), though the main romance between Rune and Talaysen was rather sweet. Talaysen's constant attempts to convince Rune not to like them were amusing at times.
As one of Lackey's earlier books, this one stands out as having good potential for an interesting series. It's the only one of the series that I've read so far, though, and so I can't say whether the potential is followed through on or just left alone. Time will tell.(less)
This isn’t a great book, but it certainly is a good book, set in a world as interesting as it is derivative. It brings little new to the genre, but still provides a good deal of entertainment. Good for those looking for that particular combination of a thick book but light reading, the sort that will amuse you without making you have to think too hard. Fluff with substance, and plenty of potential to grow as the series goes on.(less)
Not having currently read the rest of the books in the series, I can’t say for certain whether this is the start to an essential set of books on the Valdemar timeline, or whether it’s one that can be easily passed over without losing anything in doing so. There are definitely hints dropped that the story will lead to something much larger in the future, though what that is, I can’t say. I’ll reserve judgment until I’ve finished the series (5 books as of the time of this review), but for the moment, I’d say that it certainly feels more like a supplementary series than one that gives some essential understanding to the Valdemar books as a whole. Fun and fluffy, enjoyable without having much substance, despite the way it touches on dark subject matter in the beginning.(less)
**spoiler alert** I first read this book in high school, and couldn't understand what people were raving about. I mean, it was an okay book, but I jus...more**spoiler alert** I first read this book in high school, and couldn't understand what people were raving about. I mean, it was an okay book, but I just couldn't see what was so special about it that made so many people quick to call it one of the best books they'd ever read.
Now? I still wouldn't say it's one of the best books I've ever read, but I certainly do appreciate it more now than I did then. It straddles the line between dark fantasy and a fluffy read, easy on the mind without being simplistic, dark without letting itself get bogged down in grit and melancholy. It has much the same feel that a lot of mid-90s fantasy did, which made it a comfortable book for me to fall into when I felt like reading something new yet familiar.
The story mostly revolves around Daemon and Saetan, who, along with Lucivar, revolve themselves around Jaenelle, a young and abused girl who is also Witch, powerful and prophesied. Jaenelle knows nothing of her destiny, only that she sees and hears things that others believe aren't real, and that the truest friends she has are those who live in other realms. Daemon has his sights set on being her lover, when she's older. Saetan views her more as a daughter. Lucivar... Well, we don't really get to see much of Lucivar. He shows up in only a few scenes, we know he'll play some part in all this, but it isn't so much mysteriously hinted at as not really dealt with.
Added to all of this is the fact that the politics of the landed are corrupt and brutal. The society being a matriarchal one is not unheard of in fantasy, but the level of abuse that the females in power believe they can inflict upon males is nothing short of abuse in itself. I've heard a good many people insist that this portrayal of society is unrealistic and smacks of "girl power gone insane." In some ways, they may not be wrong. What is worth keeping in mind though is that what Bishop did here is nothing but a gender reversal. If you saw the same situation with males in power and abusing females as their sex slaves, their trophies, it wouldn't be remarked upon as being unrealistic at all. Bishop did a good job of pointing out gender inequality by doing nothing more than flipping it upside down, less a subtle undercurrent and more of a blatant, "Take that."
I did have my problems with this book, though, and the setting in which it takes place. First off, many of the Blood characters seem to be inconsistent in their emotions, one moment being cunning and calculating, aloof and powerful, the next throwing hissy fits because somebody won't do what they say. This did little but make me feel uncomfortable and disgusted, and to little end given that the political and social situation running through the entire novel did that in a far more profound way.
I'm also not a big fan of the 'dark' names used throughout the novel. Saetan, Daemon, Lucivar, Hekatah... All allusions to dark figures from various real-world mythologies, and they gave off the feel of "dark for the sake of dark." That sort of thing never impresses me, and often leaves me with the feeling that the author couldn't have a character's dark side stand on its own but that the audience would need a constant reminder.
Ditto when it comes to the sexual aspects of this book. It seemed like the characters took every opportunity to make sexual references, not in the form of bawdy jokes or leers and stares, but in more casual mentions. It wasn't enough to say that a woman had been broken, or broken by a Warlord. No, we have to have it pointed out that she was "broken on a warlord's spear." It seemed needless, and once again seemed like it was trying to be edgy without having a need to be edgy. Really, when a main plot point in the novel is the sexual abuse of young girls, readers aren't going to be shocked by casual euphemisms.
But in all honesty, when most of the things I have a problem with in a novel are small nitpicky things that don't actually affect the storytelling or the plot itself, I can consider the book to be a pretty good one. I'm glad that I took the time to revisit Daughter of the Blood instead of letting my decade-old impressions continue, as now I'm quite interested in pursuing the rest of the series. The world that Bishop weaves is complex and many-layered, the characters interesting and not without considerable flaws and foibles. It is, in short, what many fantasy novels strive for and fall short of in their development. It's by no means perfect, but it is still good, and that's quite enough for me.(less)