This series is fabulous, sexy, imaginative, challenging and horrific. If you aren't ready to deal with some triggery subjects, themes that are not the "easy" reading stuff, don't go for this set. Do be sure to read the "Invisible Ring" as well, and now there's a new one, "Dreams Made Flesh" out.
Witch, in the current form of Janelle Angeline, is an awesome woman/power. Daemon, Saetan and Lucivar are potent sex-gods, to me. *grin* I became totally lost in these books, and whenever I reread them, I have to read -all- of them in one big long go. I can never stop in the middle. Just call me obsessive. About these ones, I guess I am.
Got this on the recommendation of someone who saw that I said I liked Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel trilogy. But I didn't get around to reading it for a while just because the book is so big - over 1200 pages in a trade-paperback size! Usually I like the omnibus editions 'cause they mean you can't lose the next book before you get to it, but there's a limit to how much you want to carry around!
But, I finally got it read.
This is the story of Jaenelle, a sort of chosen one of magical power. Unappreciated (and tormented) by her birth family, she seeks out friends in other places and other realms, finding strong magicians to teach her, a family of friends that will support her, and a love that will endure many trials and long separation.
I can see the similarities to the Kushiel books with decadent courts, plenty of perverse sexuality, and a strong female protagonist. However, where Careys characters delight in their unconventional eroticism, to Bishop, perversion is just that perversion, and the aftermath of sexual abuse is something that most of the characters have to learn to overcome. Child abuse features very heavily in the first book, and although the incidents are handled tastefully (off-screen, as it were), the topic can be a bit heavy and disturbing.
One criticism at the very first, I found the story and setting to be a bit bewildering. Bishop drops her readers into her complex world without introduction you have to get to know the characters and their world as one goes along. Some of the confusion is caused by some of the main characters having names out a very familiar mythology Saetan, Lucivar and Daemon. But although this Saetan IS the High Lord of Hell, and Lucivar does have wings, you really cant apply what you think you may know to these characters.
However, the story is certainly long enough that by the time the end comes along, you know everyone very well, and that initial disorientation is long forgotten.
Bishops magical system is also a bit rigid The Blood are the magic users, who are intended to guard and protect the land and its non-magical inhabitants, but who at this point in history, are far more interested in political power and intrigue. During an initiation, each member of the Blood gets a magical jewel the color represents how strong the witch is so a green jeweled person will always defeat a white jewel, and always be beaten by a red jewel, etc. This rigid structure reminded me a bit too much of gaming, and also in some ways seemed to not fit in very well with Bishops overall philosophies of personal freedom, etc.
Overall, though, this was a very enjoyable saga in the dark fantasy genre, with a satisfying and emotional conclusion.
Let me start out by saying that I love, love, love this series! It caught me right away, hook, line, and sinker, and I devoured it in less than a week. I adored everything about it, from the world, to the reverse in gender roles, to the characters, to the plot-line. It was just unique and beautifully crafted. Don't get me wrong, the writing had its fair share of flaws (i.e., the repetitive use of certain words and phrases, such as "crooned" and "snarled") and there were bits and pieces of the plot that were kind of left dangling, but I was seriously enraptured. While the world was intriguing and the use of the jewels was interesting, I think I loved the characters most of all, especially Daemon. I loved Daemon. Such a poor, tortured boy...he's really my favorite type of hero...or anti-hero, as it were.
At first I was ambivalent about the fact that you never got to see anything from Jaenelle's perspective, but I eventually decided that it was better that way. Reading stuff from her perspective would have made her seem more human and, really, she was so larger than life and powerful that it would have taken away from her as a character. Besides that, I didn't mind that the majority of it was told from the perspective of the three most important men in her life. It was fitting, since she basically becomes the center of their worlds.
This is really dark fantasy, though. It doesn't shy away from rape and child molestation and violence and gore. Definitely not for the faint of heart or people particularly sensitive to this kind of subject matter. There were a few disappointments here and there and the second book dragged for me at times, but as a whole this series was just incredible and riveting to me. There was enough romance to keep me satisfied, but it certainly wasn't the focal point. In fact, the series had a bit of just about everything- romance, horror, drama, comedy, action- and I think that's a huge part of why I liked it so much. Romance novels and the typical plot-lines that you see in them have seriously started to annoy and disappoint me, which is why I've tried to move onto other genres, like fantasy and sci-fi with a splash of romance thrown in.
Anyway, I definitely recommend this to dark fantasy fans. If you're anything like me, you'll love it!
Oh, I think is my very favorite fantasy series - if not my very favorite set of books altogether! I just love it so much! It still makes me laugh and cry even after all these years of re-reading it! It is such a darkly beautiful story. And I am looking forward to the newest addition, though I have a bit more re-reading to do before I will be reading that! As for this omnibus edition itself, this was my first time reading it here and I must say, it had one major plus of containing the whole trilogy in one place. But, that one place made for a rather awkward and heavy volume that was rather uncomfortable to carry around or curl up with. I think that my mass market copies are superior for comfort, though I am not sure how many more re-readings they can make it through!