I feel awful for not really thinking this trilogy is anywhere near decent, seeing as it s one of my best friend s favourite books ever, and that she was the one who gave it to me, no less.
But I can t help it The Black Jewels Trilogy is basically a Mary Sue fanfic that got lucky.
There are some good things going for it the storytelling device of never having any of the events shown through the protagonist s eyes is truly fascinating The world building and magical system that Bishop has in place really shows she put a lot of thought into it it s very original But everything else falls ridiculously flat.
The protagonist, Jaenelle, is insanely beautiful, all powerful, and everybody except for the BAD GUYS, natch adores her She has no flaws whatsoever she s a canon Mary Sue She is so amazingly powerful that whenever the Bad Guys try to harm her in any way, it makes you shake your head and wonder why they even bother, because of course she will overcome them There is no danger and no fear there So reallywho cares The overuse of snarl ed y ing , too softly , midnight voice , sapphire eyes , so on so forth, was amusing at first, then irritating Being told that women have all power and then seeing that no, they kinda don t men can render a woman totally useless on her virgin night menses can make a woman magically weak Yeah, right, real shift of power there was a disappointment The jewels the characters are born with are never explained beyond the vaguest light jewels weak, dark jewels strong.
Basically this is Twilight for grown ups pure fluff with a dash of laughably tame BDSM thrown in Did I enjoy it Yes It was a fun way to while away the hours Do I think it s any good Not remotely.
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 MAYBE SPOILERS 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 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.
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.
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.
Okay Deep breath.
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 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 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 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 view spoiler married hide spoiler I have an omnibus edition, so I guess I ll write a review for each book as I get to it.
I am embarrassed by how long this is, but here is the third and final piece of the never ending book review See the end Daughter of the Blood 4.
5 starsIn 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 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 and 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 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 Heir to the Shadows 4 starsAt 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 things that I couldn t overlook To start with, I was a little aware in this book that the writing could have been polished I can t think of an example, so you ll just have to take my word for it Also, this one felt 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 of Lucivar I do really like him, but I can t wait to see 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 Queen of the Darkness 4 starsThe 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 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 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 of them Which reminds me of something else Why is my omnibus edition called The Black Jewels Trilogy when it s obvious that 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 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.
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 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 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 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.
Seven Hundred Years Ago, A Black Widow Witch Saw An Ancient Prophecy Come To Life In Her Web Of Dreams And VisionsNow The Dark Kingdom Readies Itself For The Arrival Of Its Queen, A Witch Who Will Wield Power Than Even The High Lord Of Hell Himself But She Is Still Young, Still Open To Influence And CorruptionWhoever 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 Back Cover