It’s hard to adequately describe how I felt – feel – about the Black Jewels Trilogy. Some reading experiences are like that. I mean, I could say that I didn’t read about the world Bishop created, but that I became a part of it. I could say that the characters tugged at me, but really they tore me up, slid under my skin, and have refused to leave since. And I could say that it’s something like relief, knowing that with books like The Shadow Queen, they aren’t going away to not come back just yet. And still that wouldn’t do it. But it’s enough to let you know going in that the anticipation I felt for this new chapter in the Black Jewels saga bordered on the absurd, and that the joy I took in reading it was sharp and sweet.
Dena Nehele is a land decimated by its past. Once it was ruled by corrupt Queens who were wiped out when the land was cleansed of tainted Blood. Now, only one hundred Warlord Princes stand-without a leader and without hope.
Theran Grayhaven is the last of his line, desperate to find the key that reveals a treasure great enough to restore Dena Nehele. But first he needs to find a Queen who remembers the Blood’s code of honor and lives by the Old Ways. The woman chosen to rule Dena Nehele, Lady Cassidy, is not beautiful and believes she is not strong. But she may be the only one able to convince bitter men to serve once again.
Having come off a few unsatisfying encounters with books, I knew that if anything could tempt me back, could soothe and rile my love of story it was Anne Bishop. For me, reading about Lucivar, Daemon and Saetan, Janelle and the rest of them, is strangely calming, reassuring. That sense of homecoming was even more pronounced with The Shadow Queen because its focus was on family, on healing, on taking risks and making a stand. Because of that, it wasn’t as violently tension-laden as the original trilogy, but then, I’ve never expected the books that came after to be carbon copies of the first three, and as a result have never been disappointed.
I’m not going to even attempt to write a review of the novel, not in the true sense, because while it’s a standalone effort, it’s part of something greater. Something that needs to be read as a whole to be fully appreciated. So my suggestion? Get a copy of Daughter of the Shadows. Or, better yet, get the entire trilogy in the omnibus edition. Give yourself a chance and a week to settle in with it. For me it was worth every ache and twinge I felt in my shoulder that resulted from carrying around over 1200 pages in my bag for the time it took me to absorb every word. These books are truly fantasy at its finest.
Once Upon a Time III Challenge
1. The Shadow Queen