OMG. OMG. OMG. I can't get over just how DAMN good these books are!!!! This book gets a friggin' 10 in my 1 to 5 scale!!!! This book is simply amazing!!! OMG I haven't been excited in a damn book since probably the Harry Potter series!!!
Anne Bishop I totally love you!!!
OK, I'm done with the rabid fan girl. Let's begin.
Fantasy, Alternate Universe, Witches, Demons
There are a few reasons I am combining these two. The Black Jewels book is actually a trilogy but the three books were later published as one. Since I read them as one book I am reviewing all three as one. You’ll also see why later on.
Being a fantasy novel this can get rather complex with all the different worlds and races but fear not, Mrs. Bishop does a WONDERFUL job of explaining as she goes along. She doesn’t spoon feed you details but she weaves them intricately in the story and, soon enough, you’ll feel like you know everyone and anyone that ever lived in this place.
The very basic break down of the plot is as follows. There is a world made up of three Realms and each Realm is divided into Territories, which are ruled by their respective Queens. In this world, women are the rulers and men are their guardians, second in command, etc. The Jewels they were born with divide people and, as they make the Offering to the Darkness, by the Jewels they then acquire. The Darkness is the good power, not the evil one. The lighter the jewel, the less power the person has. Black is the most powerful and only a handful of people have ever had this Jewel after they made the Offering. None have been actually been born a Black. Until now.
A long time before our story beings, a witch had a vision that one day the Queen will come that will have the power to unite the warring territories. She will be a born Black Queen with more power than anyone has ever seen. She will be the living embodiment of the dreams of those who have throughout the centuries hoped for a fair and just Queen to rule them all. She is thus called the Dream Made Flesh. The trilogy is the story if this Queen, Janelle, and we follow her from the time she is barely 7 to the time she comes into full power and the final full-scale war breaks out.
I could go into more plot details but this booked is packed with so much we would be here forever so I will just insert what is needed as I review. Also, as I am aware that most readers that wander into this blog are primarily Romance readers, I will point out a few things that may help those who’ve never read Fantasy.
The first and most important thing to remember is that this is a Fantasy book that has romance, and not the other way around. As such, you will see a lot of things that may not be expected in the Romance genre. In spite of this I strongly believe that Romance lovers will absolutely enjoy this book.
Second of all, you must keep in mind that none of the races are human as this takes place in another Universe. Some of their behavior towards children, etc may, at first, rub you the wrong way. Keep an open mind and don’t try to read between the lines. Bishop is very clear and, when she means incest, she will say it out loud. No, none of the good guys think having sex with a minor is a good idea, in fact, they are repulsed by this but they do have strong feelings for Jaenelle even as a small child because it is the Dark power in her that is calling to the power in them. The males protect and serve their Queen with almost blind devotion and this is explained thoroughly enough that you can understand the difference between them loving their future Queen and them being in love with a child.
Third thing to keep in mind, and rather important for those that may have never read anything but Romance, this book is dark. This is nothing out of the ordinary, unless you’ve never read Fantasy before and therefore I am warning you. People die and are killed in more ways than one, children are abused, slaves are tortured, sex is used to break people and things WILL get dark and gloomy. Do NOT let any of this stop you reading this book. Bishop doesn’t hold back but she presents it all in a way that doesn’t scream cheap horror. Maybe someone else would have come off as simply trying to shock the readers to give the book more umph but Anne knows exactly what she is doing. Some of the characters have too much power and all this is necessary to bring them down to our level and to make the struggles more real. Without the darkness the rest of the story, the way the characters were shaped, the actions they take, and just about the entire thing wouldn’t be believable. Not for one minute do you doubt that these people are in danger, that the balance of power can shift at any moment and, most important, that anyone can die.
If a book doesn’t keep you on the edge on your seat and truly makes you wonder if any of the good guys will survive then it’s not a good book at all. There would be no need to read a book like this if you could tell, at every turn, what would happen. Fantasy books thrive on suspense. They revolve around quests or wars against races, etc. The writer HAS to keep the reader hooked on the story, caring about the characters yet not being able to determine who wins or lose. Mrs Bishop does one hell of a good job with this. People will die that you wish wouldn’t have but this is exactly what happens in a war and it helps keep the book and characters real. Unlike in Romance or other genres, the fantasy genre has no rules as the writer creates the races and universe they inhabit. Without trying for some realism there would be no way for readers to know the dangers the characters are in and, no suspense and no tension mean no reader interest. You don’t want to read a story where nothing ever happens now do you?
These are just warnings but they should not stop anyone from reading this. I can’t stress it enough just how damn wonderful this book is. Bishop has an incredible way with words. She paints this picture for you and you can clearly see everything that goes on, feel everything these people feel. Her characters are nothing short of amazing, every single one of them. With so many races, so many characters, and so many things going one you’d think at some point Mrs. Bishop will lose track of something. I didn’t find one thing, character or scene out of place or blown out of proportion. Everything was as it should have been.
The characters are some of the best I’ve ever read. Every single one of them. The villains are truly evil and thus make the danger feel real. Jaenelle is presented, from the get go, as an all powerful being so you think it would be hard to care for her if nothing can threaten her. Bishop quickly makes you forget about this. She is a strong woman yet she never comes of as having a Xena complex or thinking she is above everyone else. Far from it. Daemon is one very tortured soul if I've ever seen one. Forget anyone you've ever read about. THIS man was tortured. For centuries. He is cool, can be ruthless yet the love he has for Jaenelle is nothing short of sweet and so damn intense it will tear your heart out at times.
I must say that, for a fantasy novel, this book is pretty strong in the romance department as the love between the main characters is a VERY omportant part of the plot (for various reasons I cannot give away so as not to give too much of the story). Suffice it to say Romance readers will NOT be dissapointed in the least bit. I dare say this romance rivals some of the best I've read to date.
One last thing before I go, I recommend buying this book as I did: 3 in 1. The books end in such cliffhangers and are so integrated with each other there's no way to get around reading one of them. It would be like watching a movie and missing a good chunk of it. I also suggest that you buy this along with the Dreams Made Flesh anthology that Mrs Bishop also wrote. Let's just say the romantic in you will crave this once you finish with the trilogy. I will review that book next.
I think I should stop gushing about this story for now. Let's just say that I strongly believe this trilogy will be enjoyed by anyone regardless of what genre they usually like to read. It has something for everyone and Mrs. Bishop is a hell of a story teller. I'm beginning to think she is the true Dream Weaver. (read the story and you'll know LOL)
A once in a blue moon 10 in my scale that, I remind you, only goes to 5. I think that, besides the Classics, only the Harry Potter books rate that high in my scale.
Bloody frigging' brilliant.
This month I decided to participate in a TBR challenge. The criteria is that it had to be a book recommended to you by someone, that is most of my pile, so I just randomly chose Daughter of the Blood by Anne Bishop. The first novel in The Black Jewels trilogy.
Title: Daughter of the Blood
Author: Anne Bishop
Year published: 1998
Why did you get this book? On the forums that I moderate, a Historical fiction forums, there was a thread about your favourite non-historical fiction novels. Someone posted a whole bunch of fantasy novels that she really enjoyed, after talking to her about it, I came away with a very long list. This is one of the books on that list.
Do you like the cover? Yep, especially since I have the whole trilogy and they all match!
Did you enjoy the book? Yep, I give it a 4/5. It is a very dark novel with witches, vampires, and hell being some of the major themes. I can't wait to read book 2, but there are few other books I want to attend to first. It is written by a female, and sometimes female authors and fantasy don't work well together because I am not a major fan of romance novels. This particular trilogy seems to work. I have been going through a vampire phase, reading authors like Laurell K. Hamilton and her Anita Blake series, so Bishop was a different author to cover in the vampire world.
Was the author new to you and would you read something by this author again? Yup, new author, but I will read her again. This book belongs to a trilogy, but then she has another trilogy that I have started collecting the books for.
Are you keeping it or passing it on? It's a keeper!
Daughter of the Blood all by Anne Bishop (sorreh, no covers, I'm lazy): 4.5/5
Heir to the Shadows
Queen of the Darkness
Dreams made Flesh
So where to start... Very brief synopsis of what's happening. In this world where there are witches and warlords, women rule and men serve them. The amount of powers depend on which jewel you are born with and with jewel you possessed after you've made your Offering to Darkness. Your Offering to Darkness will also determine what position you hold: whether you're a Queen (there's many kind), a Priestress or something else. In the land of Terreille however, no Territory Queen (highest Queen position possible) rules. Instead, it is a Priestess, Dorothea, who holds the highest position; however, the males do not rush to serve her as a Queen as she expected... Therefore, her viscious game starts in order to corrupt all the Blood (ppl with jewels I think) and other territories. As she grows powerful, other Queens are fearful and therefore adopt Dorothea's way and become tainted. Then, one day, Tersa, a high-rank witch who should have reigned over Treveille instead of Dorothea if she'd made through her Virgin Night, announces that SHE is coming. The Witch, most powerful being, that will restore peace in every realm and will restore the Blood.
It will take 700 years before the Witch makes her first apparition... as a 7 y.o. girl named Jaenelle Alexandra. Her life will affect many, many ppl, but especially three men: Saetan SaDiabolo (50,000 y.o.), her adopted father, mentor and the High Lord of Hell. Daemon SaDiabolo (1,700 y.o.)who is Saetan and Tersa's son and had been used as a pleasure slave by Dorothea... in a few words, Dorothea has lent him to many Queens to be serviced... he is to be Jaenelle's Consort/mate. Finally, Lucivar Yaslava, also Saetan's son with a Healer, who will be Jaenelle's brother and protector. Lucivar's fate is not very different from Daemon; however, because he's Eyrien (a race of human beings with wings and very hot temper who usually become warrior), he has a hot temper that've hurt many Queens in bed. In the beginning of the trilogy, Daemon and Lucivar know that they are brothers, but do not know who is their father. It turns out that they are Saetan's sons out of wedlock and Saetan's been threatened with their lives and so, Saetan cannot become involved with them.
So slowly, we follow's Jaenelle's growth. She is an exceptional magical being. A normal person will usually be born with a jewel and get another after his/her Offering. There is a selection of jewels, the darker the jewel's color, the more powerful you are. When you do your Offering, you can gain a maximum of 3 jewels power. However, Jaenelle is obviously different. She possesses ALL the jewels + 13 Black Jewels (Black being the most powerful)... With all this power, she is able to psychically travels in different realms, different territories very easily and she befriends many, many ppl: humans, but also beings that were thought to be legend only. Although she yields lots of power, she cannot accomplish the basic Craft such as fetch her own shoes and so her family believes that she has no talent, she is nobody. In addition to that, when Jaenelle talks about her adventures, they think she makes it up to gain attention and that she has too much imagination; basically, that she is mentally unstable. Because she couldn't learn basic Craft at home, Jaenelle goes to Saetan... Saetan welcomes her with open arms as he was predicted that one day, his daughter of the soul would come. So Jaenelle will often slip from her house/home to come to Saetan or visit her friends.... Meanwhile, back at home in Chaillot, her grandmother is the Queen of Chaillot, she is sent to Briarwood... an institution for mentally unbalanced kids... However, the horror that you witness in this institution are unbelievable.
When Jaenelle is 12 y.o., Daemon is sent to Chaillot to service the Queen and her court. This is where Daemon and Jaenelle meet for the first time... Daemon is shocked to learn that the Witch he's been waiting is only 12 y.o.... but he nonetheless falls in love with her. During this span of time, Daemon also discovers that Saetan is his father as well as the reason why Jaenelle still remains in Chaillot instead of going to live with Saetan. Jaenelle has an older sister whom she wants to help give her Offering so her sister will be able to protect herself, before leaving Chaillot forever. However, things do not go according to plan. During her 5 years with Saetan, Jaenelle has attracted Saetan's ex-wife, Hekatah's unwanted attention. All her life, Hekatah has wanted more and more power and she is the influential force behing Dorothea. Thus, Jaenelle presents as a threat to Hekatah that she wants eliminated... As a result, she plans to break Jaenelle's spirit by having her rape in Briarwood. The rape occurs, but it does not destroy Jaenelle because Saetan and Daemon rescue her soul and body in time... However, there is a price and Daemon slowly falls into the Twisted Kingdom where ppl become insane.
Although Saetan and Daemon were able to save Jaenelle, it will take time for her soul to heal and come to her body. Meanwhile, Saetan took care of her body and become her legal guardianship. Daemon tried to save Lucivar who at that time was a slave, but Lucivar thought that Daemon was the one who raped and killed Jaenelle and so gave the last push necessary for Daemon to drown in Twisted Kingdom. Jaenelle finally makes it back to her body, but she does not remember anything of the trauma and has forgotten Daemon. Slowly, she becomes once again who she was and reconnect with all her friends from different realms and territories. Dorothea and Hekatah will later figure out that she's still alive and scheme for her downfall once again. Few years later, Jaenelle saves Lucivar and he comes back to SaDiabolo Hall and becomes her protector. Jaenelle is living a peaceful life till the day when the Queens and Dark Council in Terreille start invading lands that they say are "unclaimed" by humans. However, these lands are habitated by kindred animals which are animals born with Jewels and who can contact humans, if they will and if humans are listening, psychically. The Dark Council, which is under the influence of Hekatah, announces that if the lands are really claimed by kindred, then they need a human representative and under her current status, Jaenelle cannot be the representative. Although Jaenelle has power, she never wanted to rule, but she has no choice... She becomes Queen and set her court which is composed of many, many Queens and Warlord Princes who all yield their lands and territories to Jaenelle.
Before becoming the Queen, Jaenelle, through Tersa, remembers Daemon and tries to save him by guiding Daemon back to the real world. Although she is successful, she still needs to wait for him to come back to her one day... This occurs about 5 years after she officially becomes the Queen. Jaenelle might be the Queen of Darkness, Daemon finally returns as her Consort, Saetan is her Stewart, Lucivar is her first Escort and her court is powerful... however, Hekatah and Dorothea are still alive. They might only rule Terreille, but it is still enough to stir trouble. In her dreams, Jaenelle sees that the Blood is going to war against Terreille.... she also sees the consequences: very few of her friends will survive. However, she is pushed to engage in the war as Lucivar and his family, as well as Saetan are kidnapped by Hekatah. Jaenelle needs a way to be able to make the difference between the Bloods and the Bloods who've been tainted by Hekatah and Dorothea... she finally finds a way, but needs time. As a result, Daemon is sent as a decoy to Dorothea's court where he creates illusions that he betrayed Jaenelle, with the promise that when he comes back, when they've won the war, Jaenelle and him will marry. Because of Daemon's past, his stay in Twisted Kingdom and his behavior, Jaenelle's court does not trust him and the distrust becomes worst when Jaenelle gives them the interdiction to engage into war, because this goes against their nature. Finally, Jaenelle goes to war on her own with an army of dead-demons, so all the living Blood is spared. The plan is successful, everyone is freed, but Jaenelle is gravely injured...
In the end, Jaenelle will heal, but her condition is very fragile. She's also lost all her jewels and instead, have a new one, Twilight Dawn. Both Jaenelle and Daemon dance around each other for awhile, but finally, they will get married... and they will leave happily ever after.
Reviewer's opinion: that was a short synopsis right? well that's the shortest I could make and I left a lot out. The story is very good, although sometimes, I think it might exceed some boundaries. Not that I mind, but it can become very violent, brutal or crude. I like the fact that we follow Jaenelle' s growth from childhood to adolescence to adulthood. It is a very intriguing story and you want to know what happens. I really liked Jaenelle's childhood (except Briarwood), but what I really luv in this book was the relationships and personalities. I think that my fav. character is Saetan :) I've always been a sucker for those almighty characters with so much power, but face with someone they care for, they become grumpy old bear :) So the story was almost perfect, but sometimes, I got confused and that's why the 4.5 instead of 5. And I understand that Jaenelle and Daemon were meant to be together; however, you do wonder when did Jaenelle start loving Daemon... and by the way, what's their lifespan? cos Daemon is 1,700 y.o. and Jaenelle is not even 30 y.o. In addition to that, the world in which it happens is bit hard to understand, cos it's really Moyen-Age-ish, but they have nail polish, mud mask? Also, my advice is that if you are going to buy the trilogy, don't forget to include Dream Made Flesh, because it contains the conclusion of the trilogy. It also have three other short stories worth reading :D