Book Review of The Black Jewels Trilogy: Daughter of the Blood / Heir to the Shadows / Queen of the Darkness

The Black Jewels Trilogy: Daughter of the Blood / Heir to the Shadows / Queen of the Darkness
reviewed on + 774 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3

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.