Seven hundred years ago, a Black Widow witch saw an ancient prophecy come to life in her web of dreams and visions.
Now the Dark Kingdom readies itself for the arrival of its Queen, a Witch who will wield more power than even the High Lord of Hell himself. But she is still young, still open to influence--and corruption.
Whoever controls the Queen controls the darkness. Three men--sworn enemies--know this. And they know the power that hides behind the blue eyes of an innocent young girl. And so begins a ruthless game of politics and intrigue, magic and betrayal, where the weapons are hate and love--and the prize could be terrible beyond imagining...
Anne Bishop lives in upstate New York where she enjoys gardening, music, and writing dark, romantic stories. She is the author of over twenty novels, including the award-winning Black Jewels Trilogy. She has written a new series, the Others, which is an urban dark fantasy with a bit of a twist.
My brain melted, and not in a good way "Have you read this?" a colleague asked recently, "It's so wonderful!" It so happened I had read the Black Jewels Trilogy, long ago. I remembered it as a Masterpiece of Unremittingly Awful. Could it be as bad as all that? Surely not.
Oh wait. It was. mindbendingly dreadful on so many levels.
The premise is potentially interesting: in a set of interlinked worlds/realms, a power-struggle is growing. In the Realm of Terreille, the Blood -- people with magical abilities -- are under the cruel thumb of Queen Dorothea who is enslaving males and destroying powerful females to retain her own position. In another realm, Hell, the ancient and world-weary Saetan rules the dead. Into this mix, comes the child Janelle.
Janelle is a Special Person, the blond-haired, sapphire-blue-eyed central figure, around which the story revolves. Misunderstood by her "normal" family, she's also amazingly magical (most powerful witch-queen EVAR) and the foretold saviour of our heroes and the Blood. Saetan recognises her instantly as the daughter of his soul. Saetan's son, Daemon, slave of Dorothea, knows she's his future love. Everyone Bad wants to destroy or control her with inept and stupid plots. Can we all say "Mary Sue"?
In this story, the BAD people are BAD (you can tell this, because they are all sexually abusive, increasingly physically repulsive, whiny miserable cretins). The GOOD people, on the other hand, are handsome and wonderful and darkly powerful. This power-imbalance gets ridiculous at times. Seriously: Dorothea, highest powered-BAD person has the same magical rank as the Saetan's butler. What is going on there?
The characters are cardboard cut-outs with variously blazing eyes and snarly voices. (Snarl, snarling, snarled and snarly are used about 228 times. I counted.) We are told over and over again how dangerous and powerful characters are, but seldom or never see itdemonstrated. For example, Saetan is 50,000+ years-old undead vampire and fearsome Lord of Hell, yet he generally frets and moans and sighs with all the threat and malice of a harried school teacher. For the entire three books. No matter their age, everyone behave and speak so. . .adolescently.
Later in the book, when fluffy magic animals appear (hordes and hordes of damned magical animals), I lost the ability to distinguish between several significant male characters and the psychic ponies. Though to be fair, my brain was melting out my ears at that point. It becomes a magic psychic fluffy companion animal bonanza: Unicorns, ponies, puppies, big kitties, wolves, dragons, spiders... They all come to worship Janelle.
Then, of course, there's all the sexual-abuse & enslavement rape, incest, paedophilia, torture and other sundry macabre horrors flying every-which-way. Really, its hard to keep track of it all and rather pointless (BAD people are BAD, remember? Yes, I got that the first hundred times). Oh, did I mention that men are controlled by magical cock rings? They are. Magical cock rings.
All this sex and violence isn't edgy or daring, it's just gratuitous and eventually dull.
On the surface, this series has some interesting things going for it. The female-dominated magic system is unusual and the interaction between caste and magical "jewel" power levels promised a potentially complex social system. Unfortunately, this is never developed. Nor are the worlds more than sketched. I never figured out what technological level these people were at. We've got magic, who needs consistency? Sometimes it is psuedo-medieval... other times we have city blocks, showers, modern plumbing and shopping sprees.
So there we have it. In some ways it is so bad, it is fascinating. Perhaps that is why it was this a bestselling series.
Welcome to Terreille! Please fill out this simple questionnaire so that we may get you situated properly into your new life as part of the Blood!
1. Do you regularly injure yourself and/or indulge in illogically perilous activities? Yes – You are female. Proceed to next question. No – You are male. Sucks to be you. Please relocate to the vicinity of the most irritating female possible. You will be bonded for life. You are now basically married, only without the sexual perks. Like marriage, this union will be symbolized with a ring. It will be worn on your penis.
2. Do the men in your life over-react or fuss domineeringly if you get so much as a splinter? Yes – Proceed to next question. No – You are a Villain! Please attend the seminar: That Man Wants You! How to overcome pesky things such as refusal, significant others, marriage, unadulterated hatred, and death threats! Give me leniency or give me death! (Note from Black Jewels Dictionary: Leniency, noun - The opportunity to return in later books for more mischief. See Exile.)
3. Do you have self-esteem issues? Yes – Proceed to next question. No – Something horrible is about to happen to you. Please choose one of the following: Betrayal/Poison/Rape/Insanity/All of the Above.
4. Do you often risk your life in an unnecessarily dramatic manner, then mutter to yourself about “snarly males" and act perplexed when chastised? Yes – Proceed to next question. No – You are an interesting and unique individual and not a cookie-cutter copy of Jaenelle Angelline. You have somehow made a wrong turn and do not belong in this universe. Please conform or you will be escorted off the premises.
5. Are you good with plants? Yes – Proceed to next question. No – You are either an animal, a prostitute, dead, or completely unimportant.
6. Are you a Queen? Yes – Proceed to next question. No – You are a House Wife Hearth Witch! Go cook, clean things with OCD fervor, and make babies.
7. Did/does your significant other have some sort of damage that keeps you from being together? Yes – You are a Main Character! Form your court and simply wait for the men to flock to you. No – You lied about being a Queen. You are either an animal, a prostitute, dead, or completely unimportant.
On a more serious note, I really do enjoy these books. They're a great fluffy escapism read. ...Which seems a weird description now that I've written it, because many truly horrible things occur, but it's all just so over the top with no real consequences that it's impossible to take anything seriously. And when that happens, you either lighten up and just read for the hell of it or die under the weight of your critiques. Ultimately, what you're left with is a fun, nostalgic romp through a more juvenile mindset because, honestly, who hasn't had some variation of that secret little 'misunderstood-girl-unlocks-innate-hidden-talents-and-becomes-much-beloved-princess-of-all the hot, popular guys-everything' fantasy at least once? Not great and nothing I'd want to read a lot of, but enjoyable while it lasted. I still occasionally re-visit this series, all while shaking my head and laughing fondly at the many ridiculous tropes that would normally have embarrassed the hell out of me - if you could get me to admit to reading the story at all. :)
My fans have been after me to read Anne Bishop for years, so I started with DAUGHTER OF THE BLOOD because I liked the idea of the young girl predestined to be the greatest of the great. Then I really got into the world-building, the idea of men being accustomed to being the second sex, socialized to believe their purpose was to protect and serve women. Then I encountered the very difficult Daemon, and his vicious Queen, and found that relationship seriously dark. I was interested in how Surreal (I wasn't as in love with the naming, because too many names bumped me out of the world) became a prostitute/assassin, and when I found out the girl Jaenelle, the girl born to be great, was finding friends in all of the magical realms because she was neglected at home and occasionally locked up in the nightmare home from hell, I was gripped.
I did squick a bit at 1700-year-old Daemon falling in love with a 12-year-old. And the whole Ring thing by which the men closest to the women who wield magic are controlled. See, the ring isn't on their fingers, folks. And it doesn't enable them to rise to the occasion--it keeps them from that, so they control breeding. Also, it's used to punish. Even torture.
The second book introduces the Kindred, the people who also are of the Blood (wield magic): spiders, wolves, horses, unicorns, tigers. That part's fun, as they don't always know what's appropriate and what a closed door means. Jaenelle comes to live in another realm with the master of Hell, Saetan, who is Daemon's father and who calls Jaenelle "the daughter of his soul." She begins to gather the people she will want for her court eventually, like other young Queens, witches, Black Widows (with their own poison claw). And her enemies, old enemies of Saetan, Lucivar, and Daemon, begin to rise and maneuver against them, trying to get their hands on her so they can control her power.
The third book brings it all to a peak. Jaenelle gets raped and nearly destroys herself healing herself, she nearly destroys herself healing 3000 murdered unicorns as her enemies raid the unicorns' country, she nearly destroys herself doing lots of risky things, as her enemies work out nastier and nastier plots engaging her entire extended family to use as bait. It may end with the ultimate destruction of all the Blood and Jaenelle.
The books are ripping good reads. The major good guys are engaging, some evil and elegant, some hot-headed, some kinda wack. The development isn't that great on the villain side, but maybe ultimate revenge after thousands of years of losing is enough of a character development for someone who's rotting. There's merriment rather than humor for the first part, though there are some bits of humor. And I got through the trilogy despite my squicks.
I'm going to read other Bishop books to see if she's worked through that "everyone wants to love/save/destroy the main character" thing which has put me off of a couple of other writers. I hope so, because she's pretty good.
Update June 2012: I just had to re-read this amazing series and found myself buying all three books for the Nook because I needed my Black Jewels fix! I see why when I first read it back in 2009 why I needed a lot of caffeine because of staying up to finish them. This is such an incredible world to get lost in with characters who remained with me long after the last page is turned.
So many wonderful themes in this series--love and loss, forgiveness, betrayal, laughter and the power of dreams to change the world. The Black Jewels trilogy has become one of my all-time "comfort books" whenever I need to lose myself for a while.
Let me take a moment to wax opinionated about the three main male characters of this series: Saetan SaDiablo and his two sons Daemon Sadi and Lucivar Yaslana. Yes I know, and I freely admit that the names of the characters initially took me aback for a bit. In the hands of a lesser author, the character names would have been a distraction, but Anne Bishop created characters of true emotional depth. Now as most know who follow my reviews, I am not a huge fan of the standard alpha male as written (badly) by some romance authors. They've become caricatures, cardboard cutouts who have nothing unique that stands out. They're all perfect controlling jerks who tend to treat the heroine like crap for her own good because he loves her. Bishop avoided that pitfall by creating these three men who are very alpha to the core, and yet vulnerable and loving towards each other as well as with those they cared about. They all bore scars from different types of battles, but never did they lose their human-ness nor their capacity to allow the women they loved to be self-sufficient and strong. They lived to serve and to protect, but did not coddle ot infantilize thr women in their lives. They knew when to fuss (LOL) and when to get the hell out of the way. And there's something so erotic (without being sexual) with these three extremely powerful men being able to give each other both emotional andd physical comfort (which is even better illustrated in the follow-up books in the Black Jewels series). As much as I loved the idea of "dancing with the Sadist", my favorite is Lucivar. I love his strength, his courage, his directness and his deep loyalty. Their stories are about three emotionally and physically damaged men learning to live and love and trust. How amazing is THAT?
Something else that stands out and probably something a lot of readers may have missed: the long-lived races are people of color. They're described as having either golden skin or brown skin. Interesting dynamic considering what most fantasy characters tend to look like. Not to mention it is the darker jewels--the Ebon-Gray and the Black, which are the most powerful.
The world of the Black Jewels is bawdy, brilliant, violent and beautiful. It is dark and light, filled with passion and pain and even laughter and tears. The use of magical conduits called jewels might have been the deux ex machina in the hands of a less skilled author, but it's all about the characters and not their trappings. It's about how they use and misuse the power given to them. The world of the Black Jewels turned a lot of matriarchal-fantasy tropes on their collective ears. Men were stronger, but they used their strength to serve the Queens; not out of fear but out of love and loyalty.
The Blood--wearers of the jewels--were created as protectors of the world. Over time, many forgot and instead became tyrants, oppressing those with lighter jewels and the landens (non-blood).
Jaenelle is a young girl who is destined to become the mythical being Witch, but first she must survive a horrific act of betrayal by those who are supposed to protect her. She is sent off by her family to be "cured" of her strange abilities to travel to places that for most do not exist and to talk with people who have been relegated to just tales. Unfortunately, the hospice that she's sent to serves a far darker purpose--a depraved playground for male nobles to engage in the rape and/or murder of young girls, especially those with latent magical abilities. Jaenelle as a character may be the most powerful Witch in the history of the Blood, but she's also trapped by her role. So many people depend upon her to save them from the ravages of Dorothea and Hekatah. That's a hell of a burden to place upon the shoulders of an emotionally and physically damaged woman.
Meanwhile, two brothers separated from their father and from each other for centuries are used as pleasure slaves for the amusement of the dark Queens led by Dorothea and Heketah SaDiablo--two powerful witches with one goal--ulimate power. Daemon Sadi, known as "The Sadist" is a pleasure slave with a VERY big chip on his shoulder and a very dangerous man to cross paths with. Lucivar, far too volatile as a Warlord Prince, has been sent to Pruul where he's practically worked and beaten to death. Be that as it may, both men have left a lot of destruction in their wake, and even with the Ring of Obedience, are still extremely dangerous to those who seek to do them harm. The pain they experience is real, powerful and I spent a lot of time holding my breath or gasping at the cruelties they endured.
Even the secondary characters--especially the blood Kindred who are basically animals with all the abilities and powers of the human blood--have personalities and quirks that make them stand out. The author could have treated them like cute and cuddly additions to break up the unflinching narrative, but just because the puppy looks harmless doesn't mean it is, especially if it happens to also be a Warlord Prince (the warrior caste who are "passionately violent and violently passionate") with darker jewels. Moreover, the realms of Ebon Askavi, Terreille, Hayll and Kaleer were so vividly imagined that I swore I could feel the weight of the the keep and hear Mrs. Beale roaring orders from the kitchen.
My benchmark for a great novel is when I'm sad to come to the end, though there are more books in the Black Jewels universe. Re-reading them has been a joy that few series can match. I hope that someday Ms. Bishop will return to this world because there are still many stories to tell. I'm going to keep pestering Ms. Bishop for a Prince Ranier story.
Congratulations, Ms. Bishop! You've hit the top and wrote the sickest shit I've ever had to read. Really.
The book is a pain full of rape and pedophilia. At the beginning, I thought there would be an actually interesting story with world building and a magic system, but I realized Bishop likely had the basic ideas for the plot and never bothered to explore and explain them since she completely lost her thread in rape porn. Rape, forced angst and inconsequential banter scenes between Bishop's obviously favourite characters eat up any shred of plot. Even if you consider that rape gets called out at times, you can't take it serious when you have to read about rape on every third page while you see no depiction of healthy and consensual sex between mutually loving partners. That's not calling out, that's fetishization. And the way one main character tries to convince himself his attraction isn't pedophilic while it totally is pedophilic, is embarrassing and disgusting to read since it means Bishop tries to deplore and excuse pedophilia at the same time.
This is also one of the most misogynistic series I've encountered, since every female character is either a tyrant, incompetent, a sex worker, a rapist, raped or dead and none of them is allowed to ever disagree to a man, behave like a man, or not to listen to a man. And this in a supposedly matriarchal setting, mind you. This matriarchy is ridiculous. We're told women have stronger magic, but we never see them use it, which goes hand in hand with the unexplained magic system. Even when the female main character finds herself in danger, she can't defense or save herself although she can fly and teleport and do magic like no other character; she has to suffer for the plot to work. The depiction of her mental struggles with abuse isn't believable.
The women are completetly dependant on the men and you'd wonder how the matriarchy ever came to be. Why is there the idea a queen is essential when we never see her do anything? Why does none of them handle politics? All they do is shop, rape men and boys and mistreat other women. They're in power but they wield no power unrelated to rape and are served by men for no logical reason. The world building constantly undermines itself. Also, this general fixation on sex by everyone makes no sense. Apparently female witches are weakened by sex, especially during their first time (which is a catastrophic idea to being with, virginity is a construct), so why let the matriarchy such a rape culture develop when it damages its rulers? They should be interested in abolishing it or in avoiding sex, but all they do is support it as if a woman can't exist without sex. Granted, one tyrant witch wants to destroy other powerful witches, but it seems like this rape culture has always been a thing, not only after the villain came into power.
There're a ton of other disturbing things, but I can't list them all without writing myself into a rage. One interesting thing is that by not using the POV of the female main character, Bishop makes her mysterious and exciting and thus avoids to fall into the Mary Sue trap immediately although the female protagonist is clearly a Mary Sue. Her lack of a POV shows that the story is really about the hot and dark male characters while the female characters are only plot devices.
Note: I read the first featured book fully and skimmed through the other two volumes. Apparently the worst stuff is in the first part, but this is too disturbing to spend more time on it than I already did. Although I wonder why this volume is called a "trilogy" since there're more books in the series and this ending offers no kind of closure. PS: The strongest witch is not a witch but "Witch". I don't know whether I should find this lack of creativity plain awful or hilarious.
Though Anne Bishop has continued the story that she starts in this trilogy in other books, these are the heart and blood of the story. Janelle is at the center of the story but I found the males whose lives entwined with hers to be the more fascinating characters. Fantastic world building, great characterization and an overturning of conventional tropes make these some of my favorite books of all time.--Rebekka
I was super excited to read this series - a dark fantasy, with some romance thrown in? Sounds awesome. On top of that, almost every review I read at the time had praised this book and had me drooling.
Well... maybe it's just me then. But I thought that this trilogy, as a whole, was terrible.
The world we're thrown into in The Black Jewels series is like some sort of BDSM magical kingdom. Well okay, that's fine - I'm no prude. Yet, I couldn't help but find certain aspects, such as the Ring of Obedience concept (a magical cock ring that some men are forced to wear, which forces them into submission - yes, seriously), pretty hilarious. I mean... really?
Enter Daemon Sadi, our... male lead, I guess you could call him? Daemon is one of the few people in the series who can use the power of black jewels (pretty much, the darker the jewel, the more powerful it is). Oh, but there's a little snag for poor Daemon - he's stuck wearing one of those cock rings that I mentioned earlier, and is forced to be a pleasure slave. Yikes.
But, do you want to know the truth? I freaking loved Daemon. One of the main problems I had with this series is that there is just *not enough Daemon*. And I don't mean that in a "OH MY GOD, WHY IS HE NOT ON EVERY PAGE?" kind of way, but more like a "Oh my god, why is he hardly in the second book and just kind of *there* in the third book?" kind of way.
See, Anne Bishop has a tendency to do that in The Black Jewels. She *can* create compelling characters, but then throws those compelling characters aside to... try and create more compelling characters? Seriously, I don't know. We get to enjoy Daemon in the first book, but then his role is pretty much neutered for the rest of the series. Then, in the second book, we get to spend a lot of time with Lucivar, Daemon's half-brother. Hmmm, okay, well I like Lucivar as well... but, oh wait, in the third book he's randomly ? Um, *what*? How about you devote some time to Why, why, why?!? I don't even...
Then of course, there's Jaenelle, the protagonist. When we are first introduced to Jaenelle in book one, she's nothing more than a child. She goes through some ordeals, to say the least, and you can't help but find yourself rooting for her, with your heart breaking for her at times, even though she's mostly of the Mary-Sueish variety. But, once she gets older, you really start to see and feel the "Mary Sue" in Jaenelle, and she's just not interesting enough on her own to hold up the series once Daemon is out of the picture.
I also got really frustrated with Jaenelle at times. For example, Sigh.
While I enjoyed the first book in the trilogy (I'd give 3.5 stars out of 5.0 for book one), the second and third were so completely awful that they made me severely despise this series. They reminded me of a poorly written fan-fictions that take the author's world and introduce 8,000 characters, most with hardly any character development, that you just don't care about. Not only do you not care about them, but you get frustrated in them taking book time away from the characters you actually DO like. Then, of course, there's the problem of books two and three being very unfocused and with pretty crappy plots. It was like Bishop tried to coast on the world she created in the first book in books two and three, but it's not like the world she created was super awesome to begin with. I found myself eventually skimming through pages just to get through this trilogy, because it was just getting painful to read.
So, to sum up this review - these books had a *lot* of potential. A strange, dark world, a handful of compelling characters, and an intriguing romance that somehow managed to escape the "ick" factor even though the heroine was only a child in the first book. Had Bishop focused on these promising aspects throughout the series, and created a strong story to accompany them, my lasting impression of The Black Jewels would have been much different. But, instead, the series as a whole was like Bishop throwing a bunch of darts, hoping that *something* would stick and that it would make the series worthwhile. Well, nope, sorry, that didn't happen - at least not for me.
I thought it would take me a long time to read this book as the version I bought contains the full trilogy with 1204 words and it is rather heavy to hold for long, especially if like me you have a muscle weakening illness. No problem! I bought a stand to sit it on and once started I was hooked!
Mystical, mesmerising, mysterious and magical are some of the words used by others which I enthusiastically endorse. I don't care for spoilers in reviews so will do my best to describe the reading experience for others. It is not at all easy to review as there is so much detail within the story. It is dark fantasy, with fascinating well drawn characters; notably the young Queen and the Witch Hundreds of years ago a Black Widow witch discovered an ancient prophecy which came to life within her 'dreams and visions'.
In some ways it reminded me of a shorter version of 'The Game of Thrones' with its politics and intrigue. Then there is of course the continuing struggle between the influences of evil and its corruption against the power of innocence and goodness. It is a rich and vibrant many layered tale and well worth reading for lovers of dark fantasy. I loved it and recommend it highly.
Another one probably best read as a teenager (although there is some pretty dark sexual stuff in here). The lower rating is mostly because the writing isn't terribly good (and the characters' names made me roll my eyes every time I read them...which was a lot). There's a lot of buzz around the supposed reversal in traditional gender roles in this book, but it comes off more like an exercise from a "Women's Studies 101" course at a community college. That is to say, there's not a lot of thought or rationale put into how or why the society would be structured like that, and it doesn't really seem like there are any practical ramifications in the society as a result, other than the fact that Queens are the highest ranking people, and we're told that OFTEN, but there's not really a lot of exploration of that concept. It's as if stating that this is the societal structure is supposed to be radical enough in and of itself.
In a society that seems to be loosely based on the habits of black widow spiders, the strong females have eliminated all but the weakest males and females, leaving only a few strong males to strengthen their bloodlines. This has been going on for centuries. But the coming of a female with power that has never even been imagined has been foretold. Daemon and his brother, Lucivar, have endured slavery and unimaginable cruelty by holding onto the hope that they would one day get to serve this Witch. Saetan has endured centuries of a half-life ruling over Hell, holding onto the hope that this Witch, the daughter of his soul, will come to him. She finally appears, and nothing will ever be the same for any of them.
I loved this. It took me a little while to get into it because I have a very low tolerance for learning a whole new culture just to read a fantasy book. My limits were pushed at the beginning, but I got through it, and I'm so glad I did. Little Jaenelle, Daemon, Surreal, Tersa, Lucivar, and even Saetan were complex, likable characters. Yes, you read that right--Saetan was likable. Think of him as being more like Hades, god of a shadowy underworld, than like Satan, Prince of Darkness and ruler of the fire-and-brimstone-eternal-damnation Hell. And, oh my goodnes, Daemon. What can I say about Daemon? He's hot as hell, and I think I have the beginnings of a full-fledged book crush. *Fanning myself*
Okay, moving on. Once I got into the story, I truly could not stop reading, and once I finished, I was exhausted. The plot just kept building and building, and I got more and more tense, waiting to see what was going to happen next. I would recommend having the next book handy so you can keep reading. The ending of this one was a cliffhanger, so you will probably want to keep going. I would have been pretty disappointed if I had read this when it first came out, knowing that I would have to wait years to find out what happens.
What bothered me a little bit, and kept me from giving this a full five stars, is that, other than the main characters, everyone else was very flat. They were evil *itches, whose sole reason for existence seemed to be to have sex with the hot males they kept around as toys. I know it's hard to flesh out secondary characters without bogging down the story, but it would have been nice to have a little more depth to them.
Overall, I highly recommend this to fantasy fans who aren't going to be bothered by reading about Saetan and Hell. Girls--you will love the men. I promise you.
************Spoilers if you haven't read the first book*************
At the end of the first book, Jaenelle is broken and Daemon isn't in much better shape. Jaenelle has to heal in this book and come to terms with what she is. Luckily, she's surrounded by caring friends who are willing to protect her and push her as needed.
I truly wanted to give this one 5 stars. Again, it grabbed me and just did not let go. But there were a few more things that I couldn't overlook. To start with, I was a little more aware in this book that the writing could have been more polished. I can't think of an example, so you'll just have to take my word for it. Also, this one felt more like a young adult book. The focus of the first book was mostly Daemon, a grown man. The focus of this one is a teenage Jaenelle, so the tone has gone backwards a little bit. As happens sometimes in trilogies, this second book felt like filler. The author wrapped up a few threads from the first book and set up the conflict for the third book, but there wasn't a whole lot of actual new, necessary stuff going on in this book. The big thing was that the book felt very episodic. There wasn't a great flow. I would finish one chapter/story, and in the next chapter, two years had passed and another little story was being told. It would take me a page or two to figure out when the story was happening.
That was the bad stuff, but there was still lots of good things going on. I love these main characters. Daemon wasn't seen as much in this one, but we did get to see more of Lucivar. I do really like him, but I can't wait to see more of Daemon in the third book. Saetan is still filling in as the long-suffering father-figure and I love him. He's just great. Another cool thing is that we finally get to see some of Jaenelle's far-flung friends that she only alludes to in the first book.
Overall, this was a decent second-book-in-a-trilogy, but I hope the third one lives up to the promise of the first. I'll definitely keep reading though.
***********Probable spoilers if you haven't read the first two**********
The evil queens, Dorothea and Hekatah, are trying to force a war and so gain control of Jaenelle. But they have no idea how strong she is or the lengths she is willing to go to in order to protect her people. Or of the lengths her people will go to try to protect Jaenelle.
Either these aren't quite living up to the promise of the first book, or I'm not quite as enchanted by this new system of magic and these characters, but I'm not quite as in love with this series now. Don't get me wrong--I still read this 400 page brick in a matter of hours, frantically turning pages, and eager to see what happens next. But somehow Daemon wasn't the same sexy unknown that he was in the first volume, Jaenelle isn't quite as charming as queen, and there wasn't much of Saetan, whom I adore. But there was more of Surreal, and I loved reading about her.
Jaenelle doesn't put in an appearance for several chapters, and once she finally did, I remembered a peeve of mine from the other books--the phrase "midnight voice." Oh my gosh, I'm irritated just repeating it! It's used to show when she means business as queen, but a more creative author could surely find another way to do that without beating that phrase to death. And then there's Karla's "kiss kiss." Ugh. My husband stumbled onto that phrase as I was reading this and never even saw what hit him coming. What a coy, pretentious, fake, supercilious little habit!
But, really, I do love these books and the characters and look forward to reading more of them. Which reminds me of something else--Why is my omnibus edition called The Black Jewels Trilogy when it's obvious that more are coming? Anyway, I still highly recommend the series.
So. This book and I, we spent a day and a half intimately entwined together. Hours passed and I forgot to eat, drink and sometimes blink as I tried to finish this book. It’s infinitely readable and it has all the elements that would appeal to lots of readers. I liked it well enough that I finished it in a day and a half but when I was done with it and I had time to think about everything I had read, I was left with some troubled feelings. Particularly where gender construction was concerned.
Fantasy novels occupy their own niche and have their own stereotypes and tropes. There are probably critical papers written on them though whether this book has been a subject of one of those papers is not something I am sure about. However, if anyone were to write a paper concerning gender construction and expression, this book would prove to be fascinating material to analyze.
However, as I am ‘reviewing’ this trilogy, let’s first talk about stuff that I found troubling. There is a rape in this trilogy, a horrific rape that wasn’t addressed with the detail and solemnity that I wanted. I am leery of any novel that contains rape as a plot point but it is particularly horrific here and while I understand that it wasn’t used with the intent to trivialize it, I don’t think I can ever read anything like that and be accepting of its use as a plot point. The transitions in this series are abrupt and jarring. One moment to another without any linkage occurs more than once. Fights and conflicts occur without any apparent reason and what was a bit laughable was that the antagonists of the piece, both women, are once and again shown to be lacking power that the protagonists have in abundance but they, multiple times, get the best of the protagonists which obviously made me question how powerful the good guys were to begin with. If someone is the ruler of the underworld, how can a measly shade get the best of them?
Time does not appear to have the same meaning to the characters as it does to the readers. These people have lived for millenniums and yet, they don’t behave like that. There is no discourse about time and the length of life and how this great length has given them ennui or anything. I mean, there are consequences to living that long. There is an accumulation of experiences and knowledge. There is a distinct lack of discourse on this that I found particularly curious.
Then there was the whole gender thing. Females are the dominant in this world, supposedly. Yet, many of the times I found that women were seen as creatures to be indulged, who were entertaining and whose foibles were curious. While there is no overt condescension, there is this oily feeling that made me feel that women were being infantilized. And women in turn treated men much like men treat women in traditional fantasies, as objects to be desired and as a vessel for sexual pleasure. I am not articulating myself very well and I cannot point out exactly what it is about the portrayal of women in this trilogy that offended me but it was this feeling, this lingering feeling that for all the power wielded by women, it is the men who are the saner ones. Ah, I don’t know.
All in all, the book is readable and tremendously fun while you are reading it. However, once you are done and you begin to think about what you have read, you’ll have some questions to mull over and think about.
This series kind of drove me batty when I read it and the effect was later emphasized because its fans used words I found very inaccurate to describe it. Specifically, it's not in the least "original" and there is nothing "unique" about the world, the magic system, or the society. Bishop's general schtick here is reversing the aesthetic of fantasy's traditional struggle between good and evil. This is potentially a fun twist, yes. In certain years making your good guys look like bad guys is unusual, although hardly unheard-of.
But "first time I encountered something" isn't the same thing as "original". The specifics, as far as they are played out (a major issue I'll cover later), are almost entirely analogous to the subterranean Dark Elves of classic fantasy. The culture is heavily matriarchal. Men are mostly slaves. Magic power comes from Darkness. The religion (oh, please) seems to feature a kind of night goddess--and spiderwebs are even involved. Remember Drizzt Do'urden? That was 1987, folks, and wasn't new even then.
Laying aside that hyperbole, the main issue with this series is that it doesn't live up to the promises made by its premises. Let's cover a few of those things from the perspective of the black bloody shadowy darkness readers are given to expect.
Dark Culture The males (and, yes, this is one of those books that nearly always uses the word "male" instead of "man") are frequently enslaved. There's a lot of classism as well. But that's about all we get. It's not clear how any of the dynamics of evil or amorality or anything dark play out sociologically, or even within the families we follow. Slavery is inarguably horrible, but in these books it seems to be the result of bad people being in charge and the good characters would never do such a thing, so I'm not really registering how "dark" the society is in general--because it's clearly more a case of "dark times for now." Which means I have to ask: what will the resurrected and healed society under the rule of their prophesized "Queen of Darkness" even look like to earn the term "dark"? There's a total failure to credibly establish a reversed aesthetic culture. Even the matriarchy (not innately dark, unless you're a misogynist, but an obvious hallmark of whatever culture Bishop is trying to build) is flubbed.
Dark Magic One thing that is explored in some detail is the magic system...but the aspects that are explained are formulaic. Magic users have jewels the color of which corresponds to their power level--this sounds like a video game from the 80's to me. But, okay, the darker the jewel, the more powerful the magic user. That's about all we get, other than some later suggestions about spider webs and teleportation (sure, I dig, spiders are dark). Beyond that, well, Bishop doesn't really explain much, just doles out random plot-serving bits that don't hold together. Even the details we do get are kind of "huh?" For example, the relationship between the jewels and the magic user is a little hazy; it's made to sound like a battery; in which case, why can't a less powerful person partially charge a larger (darker) battery? The overall result is a kindergarten art project magic system--meriting a head pat because, you know, children, but sloppy execution.
Dark Religion Who even knows. They mention a goddess from time to time and what little symbolism arises implies she's a night/dark goddess. But that's it.
There's a huge, obvious problem of ontology, too. The main characters spend the majority of their time in Hell, one of the linked worlds/dimensions. Apparently, the dead live there. But so do the living, obviously. The afterlife is a nice place to raise a family, which means it's never really clear what the difference would be if the main characters straight up died.
Dark Characters Characters might have saved this thing. You might guess by my rating, that didn't happen. Some characters sort of whiff of intriguing personalities, but Bishop forgets the cardinal rule: "show, don't tell." Take, for example, the "Saetan" character--you see what she did there with that spelling?!--I never understood for three whole books why the author was trying to draw the comparison. He's more like Santa Claus than Satan. The text suggests that maybe he used to be scary, but as far as we see he's just a totally sweet grandpa that lets his ex walk all over him.
Oh, sure, Saetan and Daemon "snarl" constantly, but it's like... "How dare you hurt my darling girl! I shall protect her with my life!" the male snarled. Take out the word snarl and you might as well be in a Regency. Regencies are not black bloody shadowy dark books.
Dark Plot The main Bad is a lady who is in charge and shouldn't be; she is cruel. The main Good is a girl who is destined to be in charge; she is kind. Super twisted? Nope. And not to belabor, but what makes super nice girl a Queen of Darkness rather than Lightness?
Some bad stuff happens in the books, but... It's kind of banal. Extreme but cliche bad things happen and rarely does the resulting pathos rise above the feeling that the characters are stiffly reading their angst off a teleprompter. It's melodramatic, but missing something vital, so none of it has much impact.
As far as whether the plots are exciting or interesting... Potentially interesting scenarios started to get set up several times, but ultimately failed to follow through. Those hints are more often than not entirely dropped or contradicted. And not in a successful red herring way, in a "Ooh, this could be cool! Oh. No. It's not. Of course it's not. God dammit, why am I still reading this?!" way.
It doesn't help that we basically entirely depart where most of the bad things are happening (where we assume our action will play out, where needed redemption should occur) for other locations after the first book, never to effectively return. Why did we start there in the first place, then?
The writing style suffers from similar collapses. It's occasionally absorbing, but primarily juvenile.
Conclusion "Inconsistent and superficial" would be my summary of this series. The treatment of each concept lacks any sense of subtlety or depth, making the entire series into an apparently unintentional parody of itself.
Since I originally read them, there have been a bunch more released. Now that Bishop has more experience, they may be much improved. I'm really not in a hurry to try to them out, though.
I have read and re-read all the stories in Anne Bishop's Black Jewels series, several times, and I love it! I love the different perspectives that were created for this world: gender power plays and balances, different peoples and cultures, fantastic creatures and talking animals and the way the Judeo-Christian belief system was turned on it's ear! I just loved it all!
Considering the reviews here on Goodreads.com, it seems you either love the story or hate it, or maybe you'll just love to hate it :)
To the wanna-be literary critics I say:
"Your ego is in the way, get over it! This is not The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha you are reviewing here! This is more like "Calvin and Hobbes". And you are on Goodreads for goodness sake, not the New Yorker! Your comprehensive analysis of the societal structure, it's resultant practical ramifications and your in-depth search for the psychological motivations of a character's actions in a story woven for mass consumption is absolutely silly! This is just and OPINION."
Ok, off my soapbox...
Personally, I'm not one for romance novels...I rarely read them. But I find this story is much more than that. It's action and adventure, intrigue and suspense, violence and drama, loss and redemption... all the elements of a good story. It does have some strong, sexually violent scenes, which while not particularly interesting to me, is part of the story as written and what the author felt was the history of the characters- what created them and how they react to the world after having lived it.
If you're not a fan, or aren't as invested in the story, you'd probably enjoy reading just these first three volumes and Dreams Made Flesh, which ties them together. Or you could read one of the short stories of Dreams Made Flesh and see if it's your cup of tea before investing the time in the main story.
Regarding the series as a whole, some of the stories are better than others- yes. The stories that came after these were a bit lackadaisical. It seemed more like the author was filling a publishing contract rather than building a tale. In that sense, I can agree with those who wanted to see more world building. With the realms, people and creatures Bishop created for this series, I think there is much more of interest to explore than a spooky house; The Dea al Mon People, for example.
The Dea al Mon are described as secretive, lethal and "born to know how to wield a knife"; they live in trees and bathe in streams and even their appearance is portrayed as elven, so it seems a little indifferent to rely on the readers knowledge of elves when you are calling them Dea al Mon. Might as well just call them elves and get it over with.
All in all, while I do skip parts and paragraphs in re-reading (and I don't bother re-reading Tangled Webs at all) I still enjoy the world of The Black Jewels created by Anne Bishop. I hope you do, too :)
I really got into this series pretty much immediately, the first few pages just sucked me in. For me, it's a bit difficult to review this book because it's all over the place in terms of what's going on. There are a bunch of different characters and smaller side stories that are pertinent to the main storyline, and yaa. I just lack the words to describe this,lol. Ironically, even though the book sounds like it's all scattered, it's pretty easy to follow and everything comes together. Your not just dangling in the wind wondering what's going on.
What you need to know: -Men are pretty much cattle in this world -If you are a man, you're screwed -If you have magical powers you're higher on the totem pole -Women are in charge -Said women can be incredibly evil -There are multiple "species" of people -Lots of difficult themes and social issues are tackled in this book On the plus side, love and friendship is a dominant theme through this book and helps to keep things positive.
If you like dark fantasy reads then this book is probably for you. If you're willing to try this series, it honestly is best if you just read the trilogy instead of trying to get each book. It's so much easier and flows a lot better when all the books are put together as one. If your a squeamish reader or faint of heart, you will not like this and you'll probably be horrified.
18+ Sex,rape,mature themes, and content that is controversial.
I gave this book a chance but decided not to finish it. I'm not saying that other people won't like it, but I did not get into it.
The author's writing skills were there. Characters, dialogue, and scene-setting were all well done, but narrative flow and explanation of plot were not apparent to me. I just could not entirely figure out what was going on. The book made me wonder if I was a lack-wit because I was lost and unaware of where things were heading.
Another turnoff for the book was that it was mostly a string of sadistic sex scenes. I am not against sex, erotica, or violence in books. I've often found such elements quite compelling, but in this book the torture scenes just sickened me and there were no characters that I could care about.
So, there it is. This book was not my cup of tea. I'm moving on.
The world-building was phenomenal; one of the best crafted fantasy worlds I have ever read. My only problem with the trilogy was the pacing; sometimes it crawled and other times it went so fast I found it hard to keep up.
I go to bed extremely early, but I stayed wide awake last night finishing the last half of Heir to the Shadows and the entirety of Queen of the Darkness. I wouldn't call this book inspiring literature, but I love a good story, and this was one hell of a story! For all of her writing faults (I grew very tired of the bitten lip drawing blood to keep the anger/laughter/pleasure/embarassment hidden, and if any of the characters snarled once, they snarled a million times...a thesaurus may have come in handy), Anne Bishop has an incredible imagination and a fantastic way of building suspense, dread, elation, you name it.
SPOILER ALERT************************************************* Daughter of the Blood was definitely my favorite. I admit that it took some time to get into the world and its characters, but once it took me, it had me. I loved the blindness of denial portrayed by Jaenelle's relations in Chaillot. While it is safe to argue that the sincerely bad Baddies and the sincerely good Goodies were somewhat one-note (although definitly not one-dimensional), I felt the Angellines, although somewhat secondary until Queen of Darkness, portrayed a good combination of both good and evil...how we can be honestly corrupted through our denial and apathy far easier than we think we can. I also loved Geoffrey and Draca...I would like to see a "prequel" about Lorn and Draca. The violence didn't bother me. It was a little on the not-too-subtle side, but Dorothea was not supposed to be subtle...it's precisely for that reason that Hekata was able to use her. Briarwood was a little much for me...probably because I have a daughter myself, and I know that twisted stuff like that actually happens in this world. That trauma had to give Witch her edge though, and boy what a trauma!
Heir to the Shadows was my least favorite by far. There were times when I really thought I was reading a coven version of Twilight. And the fact that all of Jaenelle's friends coupled up so nicely (with the exception of Karla and Morton, which made it obvious that they were going to be red-shirts (sci fi I know...sorry)) bothered me. It all seemed so Sweet Valley High. I realize Jeanelle was a teenager, but she is still Witch, as we are constantly reminded, and they are in Saetan's household for crying out loud!! Also - as is inevitable with a romantic trilogy, the protaganists are separated for the entire novel, which, in this case, is completely fine since it fleshes out Lucivar, who is definitely a favorite, and introduces the awesome Kindred. Although I do love me some Daemon.
Queen of the Darkness is what kept me from getting my much needed sleep last night. It was really good...I especially love the deception of Daemon to save his family, although it was a little too convenient that they all figured him out in the nick of time. If Lucivar was able to reason, within the span of a couple of days, that Daemon was playing a game after he witnessed with his own eyes the mutilation and death of his beloved wife and son, how am I supposed to believe that he held steadfast to the belief, for so long in those salt mines, that Daemon raped and killed Jaenelle, just from the word of Hekata?? No matter - it was still a delicious read. I wanted more from the Dark Queen though. I wanted retribution. Dorothea's death, at Daemon's hand, was ok, but I wanted Saetan to mutilate Hekata. It's a shame she had the same demise as all of the other tainted blood and not one specially designed for her crimes.
My favorite characters are definitely Tersa and Titian. Without them, no one, not even Jeanelle, would have survived.
Read this is if you are patient with learning a new world and new lingo, as well as with the word "snarl", "Witch", "Saetan", and "midnight voice", if you like fantasy, and if you are not sensitive to violence, especially against children. It's a really good story. Those don't come along that often...I can ignore little nitpicks when they do!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
3 stars for Book 1. 1.5 stars for Book 2. 2 stars for Book 3.
Very repetitive & slow-moving -- it's not so much a lack of material as a lack of plot momentum. Jaenelle is NEVER a pov character, & as so much significant action happens through her eyes, there's a ton of things that are either offscreen or skipped over & recapped later in some boring, angsty conversation about traumatic events. What's left? Many, many, many scenes of lolzy inept villains plotting redonk plans against Jaenelle, Saetan, Daemon, or Lucivar...& also many, many, many scenes of drab family drama like hiring an art tutor for Jaenelle, having Jaenelle's witchy friends over for a slumber party, shopping trips with Jaenelle, Jaenelle being embarrassed to read an erotic novel, Jaenelle making cryptic remarks about talking animals & supposedly unreachable places, Jaenelle's guardians constantly swearing, forgetting to breathe, & fighting vertigo as her precociously so-powerful & ultra-casual comments knock them for a loop. In every chapter. In every scene. In every conversation. C'mon, guys. Even the abnormal & absurd becomes familiar & non-breath-stealing after several hundred pages of interaction.
Sorry, but overall it's just SO BORING. And the world-building is a mosh of confusing imagery. One minute it's medieval-magical, the next it's 19-c steampunk, then it's primitive Conan the Barbarian salt-mines & torture posts before they go to music stores & use showers to clean up...really? Same story with the names. Saetan, Daemon, Lucivar...Wilhelmina, Robert, Geoffrey, Philip...Draca, Lorn, Zuultah, Andulvar...whut?? There's no consistency whatsoever in the cultural backdrop.
Also, this is a small gripe, but indicative of the sloppy storytelling: suddenly Lucivar has a wife & son. Say what? After being angry & single for the first 2 books, offpage he's married & becomes a family man?? WTF.
I admit Book 1 was entertaining despite (or because of?) its awfulness. The others...skip em, unless you're really into what you just read. If you're on the fence (like I was), it's all downhill from DAUGHTER OF THE BLOOD. As a rule this tries way too hard to be Dark!! & GOTH!!, with 90% angst & whining on the level of a 15-yr-old Hot Topic fangirl wearing eyeliner & fingerless gloves -- despite the violence & grim sexualized magic, everything feels petty & juvenile, & the characters have all the depth of cardboard standups. If you want an adult fantasy about sex & politics, read the Kushiel series; even with their flaws, Jacqueline Carey's books are infinitely superior to this dreck.
EDIT: I forgot to mention the repetitious phrasing. I could happily go the rest of my life without reading these again:
--Jaenelle fluffed her hair. --midnight voice --sapphire eyes --"Mother Night." --"May the Darkness be merciful." -- __(name)__ snarled -- __(name)__ said too softly --witch-child --The Sadist --"Briarwood is the pretty poison." --"Kiss-kiss."
The story drew me in from the start. I was intrigued by the magical matriarchal society, with a shifting power dynamic determined by caste, rank and class depending greatly on magical power--and the title heroine, Jaenelle, long prophesied and awaited, throwing a joker into this deck.
Bishop is adept at making the child protagonist of the first novel intriguing and yet act her age, in creating a winning group of peers for her in the second novel about her adolescence, and drawing it all into a satisfying conclusion in the final novel with her as a young woman. And though this trilogy is (rightly) described as a "dark fantasy" there is a great deal of leavening humor in the novels. I like Bishop's inversion of the demonic, and Saetan, Lucifar and Daemon are well-drawn, endearing characters.
Is it perfect? No. I could pick some holes in plot; I have style issues (particularly some pet phrases that I could wish she'd use more sparingly like "midnight voice") and I think Daemon's arc isn't as strong as Saetan's or Lucifar's; I think because for him it's too much all about Jaenelle. But I do give this novel and the overall trilogy five stars because for me this is a standout among the fantasy novels I've read in terms of a unique and intriguing world, characters I care about, and the ability to move me to laughter or near tears. There are disturbing elements in the novels, particularly the first; depictions of child abuse are an integral part of Daughter of the Blood, but I was entranced by a magical world unlike any other I've encountered in fiction.
Ms Bishop writes well, even though she indulges in some stereotyped phrases she repeats too often: the abundance of "too" "too softly" and "snarl(ed)" tends to annoy after a while. Her dialogues can be witty and she can sketch personalities and physical details vividly enough; her main characters are easy to like.
A young, extraordinarily gifted girl, misunderstood by her own family, gets some powerful friends and becomes a most powerful queen. This is the basic plot stretched to a 1200 pages length.
Ms Bishop is not gifted enough to make such a long read worthwhile; in this trilogy few things actually happen, the rest made up by dialogues and superficial depictions of emotions, hatred and depravity. Her main characters are strong and vivid at first but they hardly evolve; her side characters are often left to themselves and become little more than shadows. Setting is striking, at first: the idea of three not too clearly connected worlds where the dead are not necessarily so is compelling but it kind of slipped off her hands and the society described ends up being a very classist XIX century England.
Last but not least, there are typos and inconsistencies.
I think you might enjoy this novel if you have your mind set on reading a romance; fantasy readers will be disturbed by some very good basic ideas put to very bad use.
Dark adult fantasy about feminine power set in a declining matriarichal society. Some big ideas--the universe is upside-down: darkness is good, the High Lord of Hell is a sympathetic protagonist--but don't be frightened off. The tale is spun so well and characters are so compelling that this trilogy is un-put-downable.
I feel it incumbent upon me to note that my rating reflects how much I enjoyed a book, not how good it was. I love this trilogy like little else, but the reasons that I love it have little to do with coherency of plot or style or character development and everything to do with talking unicorns (!!) and awesome naming conventions and INCREDIBLE FEATS OF OUTRAGEOUSLY OVERPOWERED MAGIC.
Black Jewels Trilogy by Anne Bishop I have done a review on each of the books in this trilogy. However, if anyone buys the complete set, this is the combined review of all three books.
This trilogy is one of my favorite series. I loved this trilogy, the characters we come to love, and the secondary characters and legendary animals, we love almost as much. This is a super trilogy, but the first book, which Bishop introduces us to this world, and to the characters, has a lot of darkness in it. This led the way to the other books in the series, but book 2 & 3 lose most of the darkness, and become two of my most favorite books.
Daughter of the Blood – book 1 Daughter of the Blood was totally not what I expected. Bishop has created a world unlike anything I have seen yet. It was a complex world, and totally different. Her writing, how she creates characters that are dark, and in time makes you fall in love with them (at least some of them), was superb. In the beginning, I was trying to absorb the worlds, the introductions of the characters, and the existence that made up of this world. One thing that Bishop does with Black Jewels, is change the concept of most fantasies. In this series, the women rule the worlds. The Queen leads the matriarchy, with other queens or witches ruling men under them. Also in this book, many of the powerful men are enslaved, become pleasure slaves, and are forced into obedience in an unusual way. The women ruling these worlds have become corrupt over the years, and are cruel.
This is just the background, and as you get past trying to understand what this world is about, the story begins to unfold. The three male protagonists you at first do not like, begins to change immediately, as you meet a 7 year old girl, who is destined to become a very powerful witch. But you fall in love with this young girl…Jaenelle, and those men, some who you think have no heart, and strike fear into others (because of their torture), see into this young girl something they have been waiting for centuries, that will change their lives in the future…if they can keep her alive. The effect she has, a mere child, on them is wonderful and you totally feel it too.
The great thing about this book is that you find yourself falling in love or adoring some of those, who you expected to be totally bad, and make no mistake, they are capable of being horrific. Besides Jaenelle, I totally fell for the Daemon (who was like an anti hero, whom you come to love), & Saetan (adored him), Surreal (a female warrior of a different type), Lucivar, and many good secondary characters. Sure this book had dark parts, but also has some funny parts, and most amazingly in this type of book…..emotional parts. Wheras, the dark parts can be horrific, such as the concept for young witches (children still) to suffer through virgin night, which could drive them into madness, child rapes, but unlike other fantasy books, you technically do not see this, therefore you do not suffer to read it. The cruel men, who enjoy those games, and the Queens who enjoy the suffering they bestow on the men they enslave for their enjoyment, are the dark of this story. I found it funny, that the enslaved men are loaned by the Queen give the married wives enjoyment, with the husband’s approval. Lol
This amazing ride takes you into the dark, then gets you emotionally involved, then the tension builds as you become invested in trying to save Jaenelle, who is the only one to be able change things for the better in the future, if she survives, as the Queen and the High Priestess want her dead. Daughter of the Blood ends partially, but with enough of a cliffhanger to force you to read the next book “Heir to the Shadows”.
Heir to the Shadows �� Book 2 Heir to the Shadows picks up pretty much where the first book left off. There were such great characters in Daughter of the Blood, but this book introduces even more great characters whom you will come to enjoy. “Heir to the Shadows” belongs to Jaenelle, as she is still healing and matures along the way. You will marvel at her powers, that even shock Saetan, who is one of the most powerful, if not the most. Janelle’s life is always in danger, especially since she is still young, even now at 17. The beginning finally brings together Saetan, with the daughter of his soul, as he becomes her father…by choice.
I can’t say enough about Anne Bishop, how she takes us on this adventure, through the dark parts, and brings forth all the love between Jaenelle, Saetan, and the rest of those who make up her new family. As Jaenelle continues to heal, her friends come forth to spend the summer with her. The friends you never saw her visiting secretly in the first book, but knew she was meeting them all. Meeting them (the coven) was a joy, that made this book so special, and an incredible trip. The more you read, the more you became absorbed with the feelings, and thoughts of each character. You laugh at Saetan’s reactions to her friends & to Jaenelle; his fears for Jaenelle on seeing her powers; you enjoy the banter between her friends, as well feeling their affection; you cry at some of terrible things done to her kindred or sacrifices along the way. Bravo, Anne Bishop for bringing a range of emotion throughout this book. Amazing.
Finally, almost midway, Lucivar comes forth and becomes a major part in the book. Daemon has a small role in this book, but we know somehow, someway he will return in the next one. Loved Lucivar, who loved Jaenelle from afar, hardly knowing her, while imprisoned and suffering; but he becomes the big brother & protector that will always stand by her, even if she does have so many.
Where the first book was more dark and much torture, this book lightens up a lot, though again it must have its cruel events, and dark villains, it is still an easier and great read. Sometimes second books of trilogies are not as good as the first, but this one to me continued the storyline and growth of Jaenelle so well, it surpassed the first book, and leads to the last book. The last 1/3 of the book was sensational, very exciting, with heart shattering moments that pull you so deep into the story, that you feel you are experiencing it. Saetan is such a wonderful character, watching him love Janelle, laugh at her, worry about her, and fear losing her, take the teasing from her friends or Lucivar, and he is the High Lord of Hell. What a joy to read such great characters.
Queen of the Darkness – Book 3 “Queen of the Darkness” is the 3rd book in Anne Bishop’s Black Jewels trilogy. After I finished this book, I was totally hyped and couldn’t come down fast enough from an emotional read. “In “Queen of the Darkness”, the lighter, but intense story continues to an exciting and emotional ending.
“Queen of the Darkness” is two parts. Part 1 brings you back into the story, meeting all the wonderful people you became so attached to in the previous two books, as well as some new characters. It also brings the major pieces together, such as Daemon and Surreal to the family, and sets things up for the exciting Part 2, where choices have to made, to face the forthcoming battle against evil.
Anne Bishop not only creates such wonderful leading characters, her secondary characters are just as lovable. She has a way that brings them so close to your heart, and it’s almost like you are living within each of those characters. Of course, as in any story, she has her villains, and in this case they are women (some men); her 2 vicious villainess’ are as hated, as the others are loved.
Upon finishing the Black Jewels trilogy, these wonderful characters that I have come to love, will stay with me:
Jaenelle- whom you meet at 7 years old, and know she is destined for greatness. You will love her immediately and watch her mature from a child, to a young adult, to a young woman, and to WITCH.
Saetan – He is the High Lord of Hell, as I said before, nothing like you would have imagined him to be. He is a joy to watch throughout the entire series. He is fun, humorous, and at the same time can be lethal. But his love for the daughter of his soul, Jaenelle, and later on for his sons, his family, and her friends is so wonderful to be part of.
Lucivar – So strong, funny, tough, a leader and loyal to his sister. He knew early on that this child he briefly met would be someone in the future who will change his life forever.
Daemon – He should go down as one of the best leading male characters in fiction. He is strong, beautiful, and highly sexual. He has a very cruel side (due to his horrific early days), and the wonderful emotional loving side (after he meets Jaenelle). Daemon fits the description of dark & light...love & hate. A very emotional ride throughout for him.
The four of them complete each other. But there are so many other characters you also come to care deeply about; Surreal, Andulvar, Karla, Prothvar, Ladvarian, Kaelas, Graysfang, and of course the rest of her coven and their warlords. You know you are in trouble, when you find yourself falling in love with Lord Ladvarian..one of the warlord heroes…………………………..a kindred dog…lmao…ahhhhh Ladvarian. :)
The last third of the book was very exciting and tense, as Anne Bishop pulled everything out of her imagination to play with your emotions…hatred for those evil bitches, for what they were doing; sadness and tears for the sacrifices to be made to save the them all. Surreal trying to teach Jaenelle how to kiss Daemon.…laughter; Saetan dreaming..and all those characters who came to visit him in his dream to say goodbye….tears; Surreal & her mother….crying vengeance against two of the most vile men..….cheers; Daemon at the fountain….double tears; Saetan hearing the wolves howling.…triple tears. Then later came my Ladvarian….*grins* to bring some peace.
If I had to pick one thing that I would have changed..it is part of the ending. Though it was a good ending, I would have liked to have enhanced it more with an epilogue or another chapter bringing some of them together as a group. But that is me, I like those mushy endings. Anne Bishop follows this trilogy with Dreams Made Flesh, which is 4 short stories in the Black Jewels. The last story in the book, picks up after the end of Queen of the Darkness, and we get our answers.
I am totally in awe of Anne Bishop, who took her time in telling us her story, and bringing us these wonderful characters, whom we were able to live through them. She has created a heart rendering, beautiful story of a young child coming to greatness, and the devoted men and friends, who stood beside her against the evil. Bravo… Bravo Anne Bishop. Lastly, I have to say one more thing…………………”Mother Night!” :)
I've read this several times over years, and each time left feeling unhappy and unsatisfied, but I think I finally appreciate it now. Only after a failed relationship did I truly appreciate the ways in which a woman could hurt a man, and get an insight into the themes of this series.
To be fair, it is really quite compelling - with the rise of the matriarchy, and the twisted society working against it's own nature to corrupt something beautiful into a hideous reflection of itself, as well as the sheer over-the-top magic shenanigans going on. At the time of publishing, paranormal romance would have just be starting (I guess) and combined with it's dark, sadistic, erotic and fetishitic themes, would have been really revolutionary at the time; especially from a female author.
What lets it down in my mind is that for every awesome scene and every genuinely spine-tingling development there is several totally cringeworthy fan-fic-level trite cookie-cutter stereotypical ones, or completely nonsensical attempts at what looks like teenage humor that totally undermines the seriousness and epic nature of the story line, making caricatures of what should be thought-provoking complex characters diverting from bland fantasy stereotypes.
I'll spoiler this,
Don't get me wrong, I love operatic levels of drama, especially in a fantasy setting, especially one as creative and original as this, but this is just so flawed on so many levels it's hard to appreciate the good parts when you're literally grinding your teeth at the bad ones. Over and over again.
This really needed the editor to slap Ms Bishop around the head with the draft manuscript, with all the terrible dialogue, cheesy teenage melodrama, infantilism and blatant sexism in it highlighted while yelling, "what were you thinking?"
I enjoyed reading this book but I did have a few problems with it.
Some parts of it are interesting, and I really think that Bishop would have had a really compelling world if she had taken some more time to explain a bit more about the jewels/realms/races and how these worked, the effects of them etc. Instead it was almost like no jewels mattered except for the black and the realms and races were just mentioned in passing. Also, why have 12 jewels if you aren't really going to do anything with them? Basically there were light jewels, darker jewels and black, and nothing else mattered.
Additionally, I think so many people like it because it kind of gives you everything you want. Where most books cause you pain, make you sweat, these books just give you what you wanted, but it kind of makes it bittersweet.
Finally, I felt that it ended up just being a "girls dream" or perhaps the authors dream. A group of young, best friend female witches all fiercely independent and powerful, who just sit around and gossip all day while their men "fuss" over them. Then the men go off and talk about the girls and "fuss" in private as though they have nothing better to do. Then they laugh hysterically over the queer and funny thing women do, while the women shake their heads at the men.
I mean why aren't these characters individuals? Why don't they have their own hobbies, their own skills, their own dreams? Saeten is many thousands of years old yet apparently does nothing but sit in his office. Bishop tried so hard to build up these characters by past experiences, yet she neglected to give them the spark that makes them who they are.
By all means an entertaining read, but so much unrealised potential squandered in self indulgent.
I finished all three books in 5 days. It probably would have taken me longer, but I was avoiding my mother and a snowstorm - both of which visited during the holidays and sequestered me into my room. I wanted to like this trilogy a lot because my friend swears by it and rereads it once a year. I'm glad I read it, but this isn't something I'm going to read again. The first book was very good - I liked Jaenelle as a child character. Like other reviewers, I found the names weird and distracting and it took me a while to get used to them. The second book seemed to go on forever. Wah, wah, wah, will they find their way back to each other ever again, will they ever recover sanity? It seemed like filler to pass the years to get Jaenelle to grow up and be of legal age. Book three really pushed the limits of the will-they-won't-they. Because we all knew they would. I just didn't care anymore by the time they did. Also, all the premonitions from side-characters about the ending really ruined it for me. If I know half-way through the last book that it's all going to be okay, why should I care? Every character seems to blend in to the same "good" and the same "bad" mold and I got so tired of being told that Jaenelle was all powerful and special and unique, and Mother Night she has SO MUCH POWER! So much more power than anyone else! Oh my god, there will never be anyone like her ever again! Oh my god, we knew she was more powerful, but who would have dreamed she'd be that powerful? It takes the breath away. /sarcasm
I've read better romance novels, and I've read better sci-fi books. This just didn't do it for me after the first book, and I don't know how to tell my friend that I can't believe she rereads this once a year.
The Dark Jewels Trilogy (and it's many spinoffs) is probably a lot darker than many of my friends would probably prefer. It does deal with a lot of sexual topics so I found myself skimming a fair bit of pages, but I found it on the BYU library bookshelves, so it can't be too bad, right?
Anne Bishop does a fantastic job at building the complex social structure in these books. There's not as much detail on how the magic of this world works, which I would have found interesting, but she is wonderfully detailed about the social interactions of the characters--and it's these social interactions that drive the story. One of the things I found really strange (yet fascinating) is that the story is never told from the perspective of Jaenelle, the woman who is, in the classic sense of the word, the hero of the story. Instead you see her through the eyes of the people who matter most to her: her adoptive father, her adoptive brother, and her lover. I really loved this aspect of the story, although it meant that some parts of the story, which would have been interesting to read, were left out. Jaenelle is the one who knows the details about certain key events, but you are never quite privy to this knowledge. At the same time, some of my favorite scenes (the ones that make you smile and giggle a little to yourself for various reasons) are ones that probably would have been cut had Jaenelle been the main veiw point character.
This is a gorgeously lush, dark series, and one of my absolute favourites. It's a series that I actually enjoy rereading, and to be honest, with so many books out there it's rare that I do that.
The Black Jewels takes you into a world where everyone is divided into castes according to the jewels they wear (and the powers that come along with them). The gender roles are also flipped on their end, but that by no means that things are perfect... Not at all.
Instead Terreille is buckling under the pressure of a corrupt aristocracy, and Anne Bishop takes us into the lives of those most affected and damaged by it. At the centre all of this is Jaenelle, who we initially meet as a heart-achingly vulnerable little girl, but who grows into a powerful force to be reckoned with. There's magic and corruption and incredible power, and characters who will fascinate and disgust you and break your heart and make you love them.
The world is fascinating and well written, the world building completely sucked me in and these books have been among my favourites for a few years, now. Definitely worth checking out!
Oh, I think is my very favorite fantasy series - if not my very favorite set of books altogether! I just love it so much! It still makes me laugh and cry even after all these years of re-reading it! It is such a darkly beautiful story. And I am looking forward to the newest addition, though I have a bit more re-reading to do before I will be reading that! As for this omnibus edition itself, this was my first time reading it here and I must say, it had one major plus of containing the whole trilogy in one place. But, that one place made for a rather awkward and heavy volume that was rather uncomfortable to carry around or curl up with. I think that my mass market copies are superior for comfort, though I am not sure how many more re-readings they can make it through!
i love this book, i love this book, i love this book. Anne Bishop is amazing and this is her best work in my opinion. She has a wonderful ability to give the reader the background of a very intricate, detailed world through dialogue and flashbacks, I never once realized I was getting the back story when reading this book, but still understood the complex world. I just love this book, the characters will grab you and you will want more.