In my experience, the more impressive a book is, the harder it is to review. You want your review to do justice to a truly great book, knowing full well that a few hundred words can never truly express your feelings. Now, I find myself trying to do justice to not one fabulous book, but three of the most original, unique, and unbelievably amazing books I have ever read. With The Black Jewels Trilogy (consisting of Daughter of the Blood, Heir to the Shadows, and Queen of the Darkness), Anne Bishop has taken the literature of dark fantasy to heights I never even dreamed of. She has created a universe I can barely begin to describe, a realm of kingdoms ruled by women, in the form of witches, priestesses, and Black Widow queens, where the strongest of men are forced into the role of consort to the most vindictive of mistresses. Bishop turns good and evil upside down in this masterful literary vision, giving us heroes the likes of Saetan the High Lord of Hayll, his sons Daemon Sadi and Lucivar, and one very special and very powerful young lady named Jaenelle Angelline.
Ancient prophecies have foretold the coming of a powerful witch, one who would in reality be not a mere human female but "dreams made flesh," nothing short of Witch herself. She comes in the form of a tremendously brave little girl, whom we first meet at the age of twelve or so when she comes to Hayll seeking instruction in the Craft from none other than Saetan himself. Human beings don't just come over into the land of the demon-dead, and Saetan quickly recognizes who this young girl truly is and will become. Jaenelle is terrible at the simple magic of the Craft, yet the true strength of her powers is almost infinite. She refuses to speak about her home life, for reasons that gradually become quite clear. Treated as an outcast by her family, she is subject to occasional stays in Briarwood. Briarwood is not what it seems; this "hospital" is in fact a place of unspeakable evil. Briarwood is in essence a poison, and there is no cure for Briarwood. Happenstance lands Daemon Sadi in the home of Jaenelle's grandmother as a consort, but even his undying love and recognition of whom and what Jaenelle really is cannot save her from a most brutal and unforgivable of fates. Daemon, like his estranged father Saetan, does wear the black jewels, however, and he uses all of his magical powers to save the physical life of Jaenelle, falling into the pits of the Twisted Kingdom of insanity in the process.
Saetan claims the girl as his own, and under his care she does gradually recover, but her innocence is gone. As the story progresses, she grows into her role as Witch, gathering among her inner circle the young Black Widow queens of adjacent lands as well as the Kindred, animals who wear the Blood jewels but are not recognized by the "enlightened" rulers of the realm of Terreille - high priestess Hekatah and the dark queen Dorothea, two of the most nefarious and thoroughly corrupt souls ever created by the hand of man or woman. The fate of Daemon, one of the most unique and fascinating characters I've ever encountered, is left hanging in the balance over the course of the entire second book of the trilogy, and his eventual return rekindles a needed spirit of innocent romance to a story defined by darkness and evil. Once Jaenelle makes the Dark Offering and ascends the throne of Ebon Askavi, establishing a Dark Court consisting of the most powerful men and women in the realms, the final conflict of good and evil draws nigh. While the question of victory is, one supposes, never much in doubt, Bishop creates a magical sense of suspense and hesitation on the part of the reader as he/she embarks on the final steps of this wondrous journey. The most beloved of characters suffer much, and the fate of Jaenelle herself is very much left in doubt.
I can't really even begin to describe the wonder and magic this trilogy possesses. It is quite unlike anything I have ever read before, featuring wholly unique and fascinating characters in droves. There is no strict demarcation between good and evil here, as Bishop stands tradition on its head, giving even minor characters more life than I can find in most of my fellow human beings. Some may refer to the romance elements of this story in a condescending manner, and some might look askance at the love Daemon Sadi feels for a twelve-year-old Jaenelle, but this is no prurient tale of lust. The love these remarkable characters feel for one another is of remarkable, noble depth in all manner of different forms, and the ultimate romance of Daemon and the adult Jaenelle is one of almost heart-wrenching innocence.
If you are searching for something different, something that will completely captivate you in the form of a world unlike any you have yet encountered in your literary journeys, The Black Jewels Trilogy stands ready to redefine your very conception of the literature of dark fantasy. This is fantasy that should appeal to women as well as men, for this is not just another work of fantasy built around warlike dwarves, ethereal elves, and heroic battles fought by stereotypical male characters. The Black Jewels Trilogy is literature of the highest order, more than earning author Anne Bishop the title I now personally bestow upon her: the Queen of Dark Fantasy.
on June 24, 2004
These are the three most darkly beautiful books I have ever read. I found myself worrying about the characters even when I wasn't reading the books (which was not often)! The three things I love most about these novels are the role reversal(females rule males,males love to serve), the magic(separated into castes and levels of power), and the twisted humor that tickles my funnybone just fine. Where else can you find the High Lord of Hell being totally flabbergasted by things an eight year old girl asks about men? YOU MUST READ THESE IF YOU LIKE ANY TYPE OF FANTASY. THEY HAVE EVERYTHING.
on April 18, 2009
Anne Bishop has created in "The Black Jewels" trilogy a story that is so wonderfully unique and so powerfully crafted that it casts its own spell of compulsion over the reader. Once started, this is one massive tome that is nigh impossible to let sit idle, its pages unturned.
Weaving an intricate web of a story around an extraordinary young girl, Jaenelle, Anne Bishop shows us the depths of darkness three men travel to protect and serve. Through destruction and despair, in a world twisted by political and sexual manipulation, the tale can be both disturbing and intriguing in its imagery. Throughout, there is humour, there is sadness, there is anger, and there is joy; all will be experienced by characters and reader alike.
Not your traditional epic fantasy jaunt, "The Black Jewels" trilogy can be jolting for someone new to this style of dark fantasy. Know that this is a read for mature audiences and an open mind will allow anyone to be thoroughly entertained. Pick it up and revel in it.
on July 7, 2004
I love to read but I takes a hell of a book to hold me for 1,204 pages. I would suggest the Black Jewels Trilogy to any lover of fantasy.
Bishop creates a wonderfully unique world of "The blood" where the strongest are powerful female witches. They rule all the kingdoms in each realm and the men of the blood have an inherent need to serve them.
The story begins with a prophecy of a witch that will come and bring an end to the corruption that has plagued the realms.
Thousands of years later we meet Jaenelle. A mysterious child that has powers beyond the comprehension of those that encounter her, mainly the stories three heroes; Saetan, Lucivar and Daemon. I am sure the similarities to the names of the devil was on purpose. Saetan is the high lord of hell and the other two are his sons.
Anyway if you can get past the fact that all the good guys are from hell. And Bishops overuse of the word snarl, your are in for a real treat.
Black Jewels trilogy is a colorful layered adventure of rich well developed characters, a dark powerful plot and even a romatic tale that is not offered up as a cheap lighthearted relief, but is etched right into the violence and pain that takes place.
This trilogy is exciting and entertaining and very hard to put down.
The books are fascinating, intense, and memorable. The dark, very magical world Bishop created, in which females are dominant, was one of the more interesting and original fantasy worlds I've read about. I especially liked the magic system, which depends on a hierarcy of different coloured jewels. The darker the jewel someone wears, the more powerful is their magic. And there is a lot of magic in these books--fights are fought more with magic than with weapons. But I like that.
The characters are great also--I especially loved Daemon. I've never met a character so filled with contradictions. So cruel, and so yet so kind. (And so sexy!)
My only complaint about the series, and the reason I didn't give it 5 stars, is that the second two books lost some of the dark, erotic, mysterious feel that the first book had, and contained a lot of cheesy wisecracks which annoyed me somewhat. It seemed to me that Bishop was trying to lighten the mood, and this disappointed me because I was enjoying the dark mood. (Not that the characters joking around wasn't funny, but it didn't really match with the first book.) However, by the second half of the third book, when the real Daemon returns, the mood becomes darker and more intense again.
The ending is suitably dramatic, although I wished Bishop had included a bit more detail--it felt somewhat rushed. Yet it was satisfying enough.
These books do contain some sex and violence, but nothing that I found overly graphic or offensive.
All in all, these books were a great read. Not great literature, but highly entertaining. I'll remember Daemon, Jaenelle, Saetan, and Lucivar for quite some time. In fact, I think that I'm going to miss them...
on April 21, 2004
Anne Bishop's extraordinary "Black Jewels Trilogy" is one of the most original, truly spectacular reads I have had in a long time. I am not a big fan of science fiction or fantasy novels, but I became totally absorbed at the beginning of the first novel, "Daughter of the Blood," and remained riveted by Ms. Bishop's narrative until the last page of the thrilling conclusion in "Queen of the Darkness."
Ms. Bishop has created a unique world and populated it with some of the most unusual characters I have met in literature. This is a world where Darkness reigns and power is determined by the color of one's Jewels. In the hierarchy of the three Realms, Women of the Blood who wear Jewels are naturally dominant because of their innate magical powers. Blood Males who wear Jewels can also be extremely powerful, but they are born to serve their Queens. And magical strength is measured by a person's Jewels - the darker the Jewel's color, the more powerful the possessor.
Bishop paints a vivid portrait of two women in a terrible and vicious power struggle. Dorothea, the High Priestess of Hayll, and Hekatah, the self-proclaimed Dark Priestess of Hell, were created to be noble caretakers of the Realms. They have each perverted their Craft and their purpose, infected those who serve them, and threaten to destroy the Realms to fulfill their insatiable greed for power.
The plot revolves around a young woman whose birth fulfills an ancient prophecy. Jaenelle Angelline is born Witch. She is the "dream made flesh." By the age of five she is extremely powerful, fiercely loyal, tremendously tender and capable of terribly destructive anger. This young girl-child is also an outcast amongst her own people and has no idea who or what she is or will be. Most of her birth family, unable to appreciate her exceptional powers and abilities, believe she is mad and she is periodically put in an asylum where horrors are performed on the children who are inmates there. When she is not institutionalized, Jaenelle travels between Realms into different lands, befriending the creatures who live there - from her adopted father, Saetan the High Lord of Hell, to her adopted brother, Prince Lucivar Yaslana, and Warlord Prince Daemon Sadi, who will become more important to her than any living soul. Also included in her inner circle are the demon-dead, unicorns, harpies, Healers and Black Widow Queens, Kindred, etc.. They will all impart wisdom to her and teach her aspects of the Craft. They all have important roles to play in the trilogy.
The three books trace Jaenelle's life, her education in the Craft, her developing friendships, the terrible hardships she undergoes in her attempts to discover who and what she really is and her efforts to escape from the evil forces that threaten to destroy her. When Jaenelle finally reaches maturity, makes her Offering to the Darkness and becomes Queen of the Dark Court at Ebon Askavi in the Realm of Karleer, she is faced with Realms in chaos and the threat of terrible war and destruction. The Blood, corrupted by the wicked Priestesses must be cleansed. To do this and save everyone and everything she cares for, Jaenelle must make a terrible and shocking decision.
Anne Bishop's prose is beautifully crafted, deliciously rich and evocative. Her storytelling is nothing short of top-notch. The author upends the stereotype of Darkness and shows the reader, time and again, how exquisite the Dark can be. Her wry wit is ever present and the narrative is spellbinding. This series is outstanding and I cannot recommend it highly enough! An easy 5 Stars!
on April 4, 2004
I'm a big fan of fantasy novels, a la Kushiel series, etc, and this trilogy is every bit as good!
Another alternate world, where women rule, and men are treated as slaves to their ruler's every whim. The Blood, holding powers vast and dangerous, the males have grown stronger than their female rulers, and are waiting for a Queen they can serve without being beaten and degraded. A prophesy, telling of the arrival of one such queen.... and she's a little girl.
Anne Bishop brings her worlds to life, with cruel and cold women, drunk on power; sensual men, who delight in destruction, waiting for the chance to overthrow those who they hate, a young girl, wise beyond her years, who will inspire love and devotion in their hearts -- and spark a war that will span three kingdoms, even to Hell itself.
This is an excellent version of the book to buy, with all three volumes wrapped up in one. At least you'll never lose one of the books! Also a benefit, as the first and second novels end on a bit of a cliffhangar, so it's a relief to have the next one close at hand. Anne Bishop paints a world at once real and comletely fantasical, with a multitude of races, and amazing powers, infinite cruelty, and enduring love. She effortlessly weaves together complex storylines, somehow resolving them all into a complete and complex whole. The result is a magnificent book that you will not want to put down. Amazing.
on March 15, 2004
The Black Jewels Trilogy is one of the most fascinating and spellbinding fantasy series I have ever read. Most important, readers must read this trilogy in its entirety in order to fully appreciate it. In this novel, Anne Bishop creates a supernatural matriarchal society controlled by witches and portrays an interesting view of male and female roles in this type of environment. The story centers around a young girl, Jaenelle, thought to be a living myth who would restore a culture being lost during a time of corruption. The series portrays Jaenelle's development from witch to queen from the perspective of three males who would play an important part in her life. Not for the squeamish, Bishop generates a very dark, sad, and disturbing mood filled with horror, sex, and violence...but she does such a great job with character development that the reader begins to empathize with the characters and appreciate their quest for happiness in this dark world. This novel has everything-action, romance, drama, comedy. I gave the Black Jewels Trilogy 5 stars because (for me) it was a fantastic read - I was unenable to tear myself away from the book and I became so engrossed with the characters, I was literally sad to read the last page.
on January 20, 2004
The Black Jewels Trilogy is a fantastic read that captures the reader and doesn't let go till the last word. The characters are brilliantly designed and they suck you into their world. In realms which The Blood are the People with magic, their strength determined by their jewels and title. Three Warlod Princes, all very powerful, come together in this epic tale where love and danger meld together and honouring the ways of the blood is all but lost, these three are different from the corrupt people of Terrielle, they honour the ways of the blood.
There is a hope for the Blood, "there is one who is dreams made flesh, she is not just any witch, but Witch". She will be more powerful and terrifying than any who has come before her. Though she is fragile and already she is beginning to fall apart.
Throughout the trilogy each character changes and grows. This book will make you cry and laugh out loud. Anne bishop truly knows how to express human emotion in a world that is severly lacking.
on June 17, 2006
I read all 3 of the Black Jewels books separatly, and then once again when this complete volume came out. I have to say this is one of the most detailed and indepth series I have EVER come across.
The main story line focuses on a system of 3 worlds, or realms, that exist in connection with one another. Normally these realms are separate and only a select and very powerful people may cross between them. In these worlds exists an ancient prophecy that a queen will be borne with the strength to rule, or destroy everyone and everything in existance.
With a fantastic array of worlds and characters, Anne Bishops book is a must for anyone who enjoys fantasy (and a few hot and steamy love scenes!) ;)
The only thing that keeps this book away from a 5 star rating is the fact that it is just SO complicated. The names, places and sub-plots are fantastic, but extreamly hard to keep straight. Still a super fun read though!