For anyone who has been longing for a book in which the central relationship around which the story revolves is a really amazing friendship rather tha...moreFor anyone who has been longing for a book in which the central relationship around which the story revolves is a really amazing friendship rather than a romance/love triangle (because let's face it, you can only listen to the Wicked soundtrack so many times, and romance is all well and good but one can't live off a diet of romance alone), this is the book you have been waiting for.
RADIANT is a book full of wonderful things, and there is so much about it that I love. I love the detail that the author has built into the world that has grown out of the remains of a ruined city. The tiny elements of world-building that lurk in crannies and around corners like the mysterious creatures heard shuffling around the streets at night. I love how the author explores ideas of morality, the contrasting worlds of light and dark, as the shining towers of the City above contrast with the ruined skyscrapers and caved-in subway tunnels of the Lower City. The Lower City lives and breathes -- its sights, smells, textures, and tastes present both in vibrant colour and in the shades of grey seen through the eyes of our protagonist.
But more than anything, I love the friendship between Xhea and Shai that forms the heart of the book. Two wildly different young women from two entirely different worlds, who would never have been friends in life, connected after Shai's death by a bond that surpasses the boundaries of the job for which they were originally brought together and becomes something wonderful and new. These are beautifully realized characters with hopes, dreams, faults, and flaws, and watching their friendship as it blossomed organically between them was my favourite part of a story full of wonder, mystery, fear, intrigue, and adventure.
With an ending that resolves just enough to be satisfying in a way that makes you sigh as you close the book, while simultaneously whetting your appetite for the next book and the answers to questions that still remain, RADIANT has earned itself a spot on my favourites shelf for a long time to come.(less)
The Black Jewels books aren't perfect -- some of the characterization is problematic, and the worldbuilding can take some time to actually figure out....moreThe Black Jewels books aren't perfect -- some of the characterization is problematic, and the worldbuilding can take some time to actually figure out. But dammit, I love them to bits.
This is very dark fantasy (with, oddly, some of the woobiest male leads in any of the books on my shelf), and ultimately, it's the characters themselves, with all their flaws (intentional and not), that keep me coming back to these books and the rest of the series. I like the politics of the world Bishop has set up, and the magical system that she uses. And while this book is probably my least favourite of the initial trilogy (it's very much setting things up for what's coming next, and consequently doesn't enjoy quite as much of the really interesting interplay between characters that makes me love books 2 and 3), I still really enjoy it.(less)