7th Jul 2008
Our latest review is of the Black Jewels Trilogy – Daughter of the Blood, Heir to the Shadows and Queen of the Darkness – omnibus edition, by Anne Bishop:
Seven hundred years ago, a Black Widow witch saw an ancient prophecy come to life in her web of dreams and visions.
Now the Dark Realm readies itself for the arrival of its Queen, the Witch who will wield more power than even the High Lord of Hell himself. But the Queen is still young, still open to influence—and corruption.
Whoever controls the Queen controls the Darkness. Three men—sworn enemies—know this. And they know the power that hides behind the blue eyes of an innocent young girl. And so begins a ruthless game of politics and intrigue, magic and betrayal, where the weapons are hate and love—and the prize could be terrible beyond imagining….
Webmistress Niki: I don’t even know where to begin. Plot-wise, this is sort of a standard fantasy trope where a prophesied young woman is born to save the world from the vicious and petty-minded. Fortunately, she has super-crazy-awesome magical powers, and after the requisite trauma, she succeeds.
But the entire trilogy is heavily dusted with the literary equivalent of high-grade crack. It’s bizarre and hilarious, and I could not stop reading.
Claire: Hilarious? I thought so much of it was so, so serious!
Webmistress Niki: The male protagonists are named Saetan, Daemon and Lucivar!
Webmistress Niki: So those are… uh, well, what about the telepathic magic animals? What about the unicorns?
Claire: Oh, I love unicorns! And the ones in this series were so talented! Just look at this part where Queen Moonshadow is described:
While most of the unicorns were some shade of white, there were a few rare dappled grays. This mare was a pale pewter with a white mane and tail. An Opal Jewel hung from a silver ring around her horn.
She was not only a Queen, she was also a Black Widow. The only combination that was rarer was the Queen/Black Widow/Healer. [Lucivar had] never heard of a witch like that when he’d lived in Terreille. In Kaeleer, there were only three—Karla, Gabrielle, and Jaenelle.
Webmisress Niki: Well. Belle, you’re uncharacteristically quiet.
Belle: I am appalled beyond words.
Webmistress Niki: Really?
Belle: Yes. This series is utterly ridiculous and I cannot comprehend how it outsells much worthier works. It’s not even a romance! The protagonist doesn’t even engage in consensual sexual activity until the third book!
Webmistress Niki: In the first book, Jaenelle is twelve.
Belle: Exactly! Why not jump straight to the third book? Why all this pointless setup? Not to mention that some of the terms in this book are completely ludicrous. At one point this Janelle wears a dress made out of “spidersilk”. Spidersilk!
Webmistress Niki: As opposed to “space trousers”?
Claire: Maybe the first part could have been about the unicorns some more, and Jaenelle could have come in later, when she was already of age.
Belle: Not even that could have saved this book from total incompetence, Claire. Did you not notice that the magic system is completely impossible?
Claire: I don’t really remember. I was a little distracted by the… uh… rings.
Belle: Oh, well, I did like those.
Webmistress Niki: I, too, found the magic cock rings a source of enjoyment.
Claire: It was just so confusing! Not like the talking giant cats or unicorns at all!
Belle: Oh, dearest Claire. It’s quite simple. Cock rings used by the bad women are used to control and punish men who are honourable and good. Cock rings used by the good women are a sign that they honour and respect their mates. Jaenelle, being an especially good character, creates rings that not only honour the men in her life, but also mean she is able to communicate with and shield them!
Claire: Oh. Well that makes perfect sense.
Belle: But only if you accept the magic system, which isn’t based on science at all.
Claire: I guess you’re right, Belle. But I did like parts of this series a lot. So many characters had amnesia! And it was so nice that absolutely everyone was so special and unique!
Webmistress Niki: Especially Jaenelle. Not only does she have a Jewel more powerful than anyone else, she has thirteen of them. Not only is she pretty, but she has eyes that are alternatively sapphire blue and midnight blue. Not only does she have a lover, but he is the sexiest man of all time. And by the third book, she rules a third of the world.
Claire: You make it sound like she’s perfect Niki, but it clearly says in the book that she can’t cook.
Webmistress Niki: Because she’s so powerful that her magic makes the cooking go wrong.
Claire: I know! It’s so sad.
Belle: Enough of this! Let us give the horrid thing its marks and have done.
One star, obviously.
Claire: Five Clars for the special unicorns and the amnesia!
Webmistress Niki: You know, I really liked it, even though I can’t quite articulate why. Four stars.