Maia, the nearly-forgotten, half-goblin son of an elvish emperor, abruptly finds himself ascending to the throne upon the sudden deaths of his father...moreMaia, the nearly-forgotten, half-goblin son of an elvish emperor, abruptly finds himself ascending to the throne upon the sudden deaths of his father and brothers. Thus begins his immersion into a world of unfamiliar politics and culture as he struggles to run a country and forge relationships amongst the forbidding landscape of a court mostly-biased against him.
I adore Katherine Addison/Sarah Monette's writing so much. I hadn't read anything from her in quite a while, and I didn't realize how much I missed it until I became engrossed in certain sections of this book. In true Addison/Monette-style, readers are introduced to the world by sheer immersion. You won't find long, drawn-out sections of history or backstory here; fortunately, Maia is as new to the court as the readers are, so we get to learn with him. The world is an interesting mixture of fantasy and steampunk, and you get the impression that it's so much more vast that what we see through the eyes of the new emperor. It's a world with many tales to tell.
The aspect I probably like most about Addison/Monette's writing is the slow reveal of the many facets of a character's personality through little triumphs, difficulties, and conversations. This novel certainly doesn't lack interesting characters, and they are the driving force behind the story. Almost every character is explored and developed bit-by-bit as the story progresses.
What you will find in this book Multi-layered and well-developed characters. An intriguing world of fantasy and steampunk.
What you will not find in his book Action sequences. Romance. Long, drawn-out sections of history or backstory. (less)
The sequel to The Shadow Queen, Shalador's Lady is the eighth installment that takes place in the Black Jewels universe. Lady Cassidy, the Queen of De...moreThe sequel to The Shadow Queen, Shalador's Lady is the eighth installment that takes place in the Black Jewels universe. Lady Cassidy, the Queen of Dena Nehele, struggles to hold onto her rule and protect her people against threats both seen and unseen.
I feel as if this book told a good story of struggles, insecurities, and growing up. There are certain aspects of the story and writing that are Bishop-staples. The heroine is easy to sympathize with, the villain is easy to dislike, and you know the ending will probably be happy. What's more interesting, though, were the characters who stood in those gray areas--no pun intended. A grand total of one character, I think.
But while I could objectively appreciate the story, this work wasn't as edgy or engaging as Bishop's other Black Jewels novels. On one hand, I understand, because the world isn't as dark as it used to be, but I also didn't feel like it was as fun or enjoyable. A lot of the plot events were easy to predict, and although I felt the character development arcs were good on the Dena Nehele and Shalador side of things, I didn't really get what Bishop was trying to do with the Ebon Askavi characters--Daemon, Saetan, Lucivar, Surreal, etc. I expected Bishop to run with some things, but they went nowhere.
In conclusion, a good read, but not the best Black Jewels novel. It's a worthwhile read for those who enjoyed The Shadow Queen and want to continue on with Cassidy's story, and I definitely plan on reading the next Black Jewels novel when it comes out.(less)
Sebastian focuses on a fantasy land called Ephemera that was broken up into different "landscapes." One of the landscapes is called the Den of Iniquit...moreSebastian focuses on a fantasy land called Ephemera that was broken up into different "landscapes." One of the landscapes is called the Den of Iniquity, home to incubi, succubi, and other demons. It's also home to Sebastian, a half-incubus who longs for something other than carnal pleasures. Now, a great evil has returned to Ephemera, and Sebastian and his powerful cousin, Glorianna Belladona, are to play a pivotal part in stopping it.
I didn't expect to love this book when I started it, but I'd recently read Bishop's latest Black Jewels novel and enjoyed it, so I figured I'd at least be entertained by this novel, even if it wasn't a page-turner. Sadly, I wasn't entertained at all. I still do like the straightforward, occasionally-dramatic way that Bishop writes and how she seems to have no inhibitions when it comes to touchy subjects that other authors will skirt around. There were also a few moments where characters--never the main ones, though--touched me.
So, I liked the writing and the rare bits that I connected with, but unfortunately, this novel didn't work for me on many levels. The dynamics of the main couple--Sebastian and Lynnea--were very cliched and a little dull, to be honest. The characters shared a stage with the larger plot, but that plot seemed to move along too slowly to really engage me. Even the Den as a setting wasn't particularly compelling. It was portrayed as being a place of "dark delights," but I personally didn't find anything particularly dark or delightful about it, and I know Bishop can write dark and delightful dynamics and prose. Bishop also has such a knack for humor to the point where I laugh out loud, but there wasn't much of that in this novel.
In the end, I think I'll be sticking to novels written in the Black Jewels universe. Sebastian, as a whole, didn't work for me.(less)
Dragon in Chains takes place in an Asian-inspired fantasy universe where a dragon has been chained beneath the ocean, and an emperor flees to an islan...moreDragon in Chains takes place in an Asian-inspired fantasy universe where a dragon has been chained beneath the ocean, and an emperor flees to an island to escape rebels who wish to claim his life. The story is mainly told through three primary PoVs: a crippled slave boy who is bound to the dragon and must keep her chained, a fishergirl who becomes the emperor's concubine, and a jade-miner who falls into dire straits trying to bring a gift to the emperor.
Overall, I felt the book was pretty good. I want to give it a higher rating, but it wasn't until about the middle of the book that I felt any sort of pace begin to move the story. Everything before that felt like set-up, and I think you could probably even argue that the set-up continued long after that. However, there is clear character progression throughout the story, and although it wasn't until the last hundred pages or so that I connected with them, I'm glad the story finally got there. The plot is solid, even if it did move slowly at times. Fox's writing style can be a bit sparse on the descriptions at times, but it flows pretty well. I feel like this series has a lot of potential, and I'll gladly read all the books that follow. Fans of Lian Hearn will probably like this novel, especially if they also like the gritty events and multiple character PoVs of George R. R. Martin's novels.(less)
In Naamah's Kiss, Jacqueline Carey returns to the realm where the Phedre and Imriel trilogies were set, this time taking the story several generations...moreIn Naamah's Kiss, Jacqueline Carey returns to the realm where the Phedre and Imriel trilogies were set, this time taking the story several generations into the future. Moirin of the Maghuin Dohnn is a descendant of Alais the Wise, but she's also touched by Naamah, a deity from a distant land called Terre d'Ange. Moirin's complicated standing with the gods sends her on a quest from Alba to seek her destiny in unfamiliar lands.
I enjoyed this book a lot more than I expected. I was disappointed in Carey's last two books set in the Kushiel universe, but I found Moirin to be a good, solid mixture of unabashed passion and keen intelligence. As a main character, she carried the story very well, and I'm glad the focus of the novel was on her quest for whatever the gods intend for her and not a gushing romance. I appreciated all the supporting characters in the novel, and I found one that I just may adore as much as Joscelin. In comparison to the previous two trilogies, Moirin's story differs in that she's seeking her own destiny and trying to do the will of the gods who have a hand in her life--mainly the Maghuin Dohnn and Naamah. Those elements were present in Phedre and Imriel's tales, but I feel as if they've mingled into a happy medium in the novel. The plot is not as a solid and epic as the plots of the Phedre novels (which I think I'll always favor above anything else of Carey's), but the writing is great, the storytelling is lively, the characters are entertaining, and love scenes are hot. So, I'd say you're in for a good ride with this book, especially if you enjoyed Carey's previous novels set in this universe.(less)
I enjoyed this book quite a bit more than I expected. It takes place two years after the events in the Black Jewels Trilogy and focuses, for the most...moreI enjoyed this book quite a bit more than I expected. It takes place two years after the events in the Black Jewels Trilogy and focuses, for the most part, on an area of Tereille (sp?) trying to rebuild itself around a Queen named Cassidy, a plain woman sent from the Shadow Realm to establish a court in a foreign land. There is also an mostly-unrelated storyline that again taps into the SaDiablo men's many issues. (See Daemon and Saetan angst! See Lucivar be as awesome as always! Oh, and there are some new characters, too.)
I like to read Anne Bishop's writing because she has a knack for over-the-top angst and humor and that make revisiting old characters and getting to know new ones really enjoyable. For almost the entire book, I was so eager to read about what happened next that I had trouble putting the book down. I wish some effort had been make to connect the two storylines, but I think they worked out okay separately. The ending felt a little abrupt after so much build-up, but those were pretty much the only two issues that I had. (Other than numerous descriptions of how sexy and scary Daemon is, but that's sort of a staple in this series by now. Although I wish Bishop would include more visual descriptions of Lucivar. I know by now that people reading this series probably know what an Eyrien looks like, but (and this might be a little spoiler-y) only one mention of the fact that he has wings in the entire book? Wings! Kind of a big aspect of his appearance...)
But I digress. I definitely think fans of the Black Jewels trilogy will enjoy this novel. I think it's a good addition to the series. Having read The Invisible Ring will definitely help out on account of the frequent references to the characters, but I don't think it's necessary to understand the book.(less)