Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Series: The Black Jewels Trilogy
My first Anne Bishop books, and my first taste of dark fantasy.
The Black Jewels Trilogy began with Daughter of the Blood, followed by Heir to the Shadows and concluded with Queen of the Darkness. The story follows Jaenelle, who was the Witch prophesied to come who would clean the realms and remind the Blood (those who have powers) what it means to be Blood. What's interesting about these three books is that although the protagonist is Jaenelle Angelline, the story is told from the point of view of other people. Never did we see Jaenelle's point of view.
When I read Daughter of the Blood (DotB), I was enthralled. Ms Bishop has created a unique magic system (using the different jewels to denote the different levels of power) and a world which is peopled with intriguing characters, all with their own motives and conflicts and goals in the story. I love love Daemon Sadi, his brooding personality, his sadistic tendencies for people he despised, and I love knowing the dreams and softer feelings he kept hidden beneath a tough outward exterior.
The magic system was very good too. Inspired, even. Who'd ever thought of using jewels as a way to designate the degree of power each one possesses? I also like the concept of the Web and the Winds and using the Coach to travel the deeper colors.
I was shocked toward the end of the book (which is a good thing) at the utter horror and depravity of Terreille, which Dorothea SaDiablo (the villain) initiated and encouraged to spread. DotB was my first taste of dark fantasy and I was by turn fascinated and horrified and intrigued.
I wanted more.
So I read the second and third books. Sad to say, Daemon--that is, the Daemon in DoB--was gone. The things about him that captivated me were nowhere to be seen. It didn't help that he didn't have much page-time in Heir to the Shadows (HttS), and that he was insane during that time. In Queen of the Darkness (QotD), he followed Jaenelle around like a lost puppy.
Aside from that, all we see in HttS and QotD is how powerful Jaenelle is, and though she had to learn how to use some of her powers, like weaving the tangled webs, in essence, her power is innate, because she is Witch. What we see is Jaenelle being put into scenes after scenes of seeming impossibility, but which she is able to conquer because she is "all-powerful". And her solutions always left her adoptive father flabbergasted, whose reactions I sometimes find over the top (and unbelievable) because he is supposed to be Saetan, High Lord of Hell and what not, who has lived for over 50,000 years and has seen all and done all.
Having said that, I did enjoy reading about Jaenelle's all-powerfulness to a certain extent, especially in seeing the solutions she was going to come up with, but I would have enjoyed reading her growth as a main character more, especially in the matter of her learning the use of magic and growing in her ability. I would've enjoyed seeing more of her interactions with her friends, her adoptive father and brother, and especially with Daemon. I would've liked to see their relationship grow and see her conquer the emotional scars that she'd suffered in DotB. Instead, I was told about it--through Saetan, through Lucivar (her adopted brother) and through everyone else.
Also, the relationship between Daemon and Jaenelle left me vaguely unsatisfied. They did build sort of a relationship when Jaenelle was a child and it was a foregone conclusion that they would be a couple, but I didn't feel that there was any development of their feelings in the succeeding books, especially in QotD when they finally meet again. I felt that Daemon loved his idea of Witch, and not who Jaenelle had become (Though he said so in the book. But how could he if he didn't even have the time to get to know the grown-up Jaenelle?)
As to Jaenelle's feelings toward Daemon, I felt it was more of in the matter of sex than anything else. She'd had a bad experience and Daemon was the only man to make her feel sexually alive, or whom she wants to have sex with, strictly speaking.
Also, this made me realize that though I loved seeing things from so many different points of view, I missed seeing things through the heroine's eyes. This made me feel a little detached from the story.
Daughter of the Blood - 4.0 out of 5
Heir to the Shadows - 3.0 out of 5 (if only because you need to read this to complete the entire story)
Queen of the Darkness - 3.0 out of 5 (if only because you need to read this to complete the entire story)