11 October 2009

Review: Anne Bishop - Queen Of The Darkness

~click here to buy copy~
Paperback: 416 pages

Publisher: Roc Trade; Reprint edition (October 2, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0451461711
ISBN-13: 978-0451461711


Jaenelle Angelline now reigns as Queen-protector of the Shadow Realm. No longer will the corrupt Blood slaughter her people and defile her lands. But where one chapter ends, a final, unseen battle remains to be written, and Jaenelle must unleash the terrible power that is Witch to destroy her enemies once and for all.

Even so, she cannot stand alone. Somewhere, long lost in madness, is Daemon, her promised Consort. Only his unyielding love can complete her Court and secure her reign. Yet, even together, their strength may not be enough to hold back the most malevolent of forces.

And in the end, under the emergent shadow of evil and unforeseen betrayal, only Jaenelle's greatest sacrifice will save those she loves-and the realm she's bound to protect...

!!Perhaps for certain readers this review can contain spoilers!!

As I finished Queen Of The Darkness early this morning (spring 2009) I am still waiting for the feeling of awe to subside so I can get my head clear enough to write a decent review without sounding like a girl gushing over something she discovered. So I can promise to try but I can’t guarantee anything…

I may have read Heir To The Shadows a few months back but the events from that novel were hardly forgotten. The story is picked up years later and from the start the pace of the story was taken down a notch. I met up with just about everyone in Jaenelle’s court while two vicious ladies remained in their old habit of scheming and plotting. This weaved its own tangled web and though the focus remained on Jaenelle's court I was more than aware that the thirst for power would not stay unnoticed forever.

Subtly, yet undeniably ever present, is the danger. Something is brewing but I couldn’t exactly place my finger on how, what and where things were going to come down. It is one of many aspects of this novel that kept me continuing reading. Another aspect I loved was that just about every character was someone I met and knew from previous entries in The Black Jewel Trilogy. I cared for them and was intrigued by each of them. So it was an understatement that I wanted the evil punished, and Kaeleer with its inhabitants not only survive it all, but also prosper. I can honestly say that rich and layered characterization is an understatement and a reason why the trilogy format worked so well. Anne Bishop takes her time with building up a splendid tale and allowing the reader to merge with all the characters life's and work to a spectacular finale.

While the plot created an incredible drive to read on it were the characters that made Queen Of The Darkness soar. I will never underestimate the power of Jaenelle’s character but Saetan, Daemon and Lucivar are three pillars who carry this story with a formidable force. Lucivar is humor combined with brutal power, Saetan a mix of ancient wisdom with a lethal temper and Daemon; The Sadist and The Consort dance together in a complex way that is short of mesmerizing. Each of these three men fulfills an elemental purpose, they are so connected to one another and each hold a position in Jaenelle’s court that exudes a potent power which makes them a law all on their own.

Because of the romance blooming between Daemon and Jaenelle I got to see more of Daemon. He became a merger of the man he was in Daughter Of Blood and the one I found in The Heir Of The Shadows where he ardently tried to protect his sanity. At times I got to see that vulnerability again and this was mostly regarding Jaenelle. Yet at other times a cold and cruel side exploded that warned everybody The Sadist was still alive and kicking. To see those two sides of him unite in the man he became gave a stunning visual of a grown and changed Daemon. He was, and always will be, an epitome of male splendor. Darkness wedded to light, cruelty opposing his compassion, love dueling with the hate and a fiery erotic essence nurtured by a cutting dangerous cold. It became a fact whether you appealed to one or the other side that determined which Daemon would stand in front of you.

Side by side I already experienced much with Jaenelle and it is also in Queen Of The Darkness that I got the witness the child, the woman and she who is called Witch. All fascinating sides of one spectacular woman, one I invested all of my emotions in from the moment I met her in DOB. She is in a league of her own and it is no wonder for me she chose Daemon as her Consort. They not only complete each other, there is an understanding between them of who and what they are that creates a unique bond, and is shared by no one else but them. There is a romance and sensual element in their storyline but it is subtly interwoven in the grand scheme of the overall story arc.

This novel is divided in two parts. Part one is meeting all the characters again, both primary as secondary and setting up things plot wise. In part two the plot accelerates and choices must be made. Hard, inevitable choices that made me feel so much, I said goodbye and hello and headed for a climactic ending that made those feelings intensify. If there is another thing I just loved about The Black Jewel Trilogy is that the supporting cast is also very important to tell the whole story, paint the complete picture and become key characters in the end. Prothvar, Surreal, Titian, Karla but also the kindred Ladvarian, Sundancer and Kaelas, each became near and dear to my heart in the incredible world Anne Bishop created.

If there are two other characters who have an effect on all that goes on it is Hekatah and Dorothea. The phrase: “you’ll love to hate them” is a thing I had to remind myself of a few times. Vengeful feelings were no stranger to me as I read the pages. If you think there is a shred of goodness in them, forget it, they’re oblivious to the concept and thereby making this story soar. There cannot be victory without pain and sacrifice, Anne Bishop masterfully uses this concept without making it unacceptable or hard for me to digest.

Is there anything that gets me to raise an eyebrow you might wonder? Well, the powerful vibe and impact of both parts in Queen Of The Darkness evoked a need with me to witness, just once, the physical side of Daemon and Jaenelle’s resplendent connection. To express a build up for many chapters and release all those emotions with the reader present would be a cherry on the cake. What I got from Bishop was a sensual subtlety that didn’t diminish the overall joy of the story nor the strength of the feelings between the lovers. It is more a personal preference than anything else and would’ve added an extended bliss in the romance aspect.

Second, the ending could have been a bit more fleshed out. With the former and the latter subject I felt that it could have been somewhat more elaborated to achieve perfection. However, with this trilogy and with this author I think gluttony is my middle name and the word 'more' my chant. The Black Jewel trilogy is a heart rendering and utterly beautiful coming of age story about a woman meant for greatness and three men who immortalized themselves in the process.

This trilogy isn’t just fantasy, it treads on to new grounds, setting new boundaries and will become a true classic of the genre. Sometimes the imagination of an author is truly touched by divine inspiration! I can tell you so much more but all that I’m going to say is that if you have an affinity with the fantasy genre then Anne Bishop with her Black Jewel trilogy is a must to read. It was said to me more than a year ago and I’m just spreading that wisdom as I've come to experience it myself!!

Queen Of Darkness makes the story come full circle with a cast of characters who will hold your unwavering attention from page one. I haven’t read such an imperiously well written trilogy since my mid twenties when Anne Rice rocked my world with her Mayfair Witch trilogy!

Quote Lucivar:

Lucivar nodded. “She kept resisting because Eyrien females traditionally didn’t touch a warriors weapons. I told her if a male hurt her because she was too stubborn to learn how to defend herself, I’d beat the shit out of her. And she told me if I ever raised a hand to her, she’d gut me. I figured we were making progress.”

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  1. Oh my, Leontine! Another fabulous review! I love that. And that is so great that you should mention Anne Rice's Mayfair Witches. I absolutely loved those books. I read them years ago, before I ever started reading so voraciously. It took me years to pick up her Vampires, but I did and love them too :. And that's when I finally discovered the Black Jewels trilogy. I went in search of something to read when I read the last Vampire book. First I was recommended to read LKH, but she didn't sit well with me and then I picked up Anne Bishop! Best thing I ever did :).

  2. I laying the blame on your shoulders Leontine. I thought I was calm enough not to go into fits of excitment with Deep Kiss of Winter coming out, then I stopped by AND SAW THE VIDEO. I won't be able to sleep a wink til I have it in my posession!

    Ok tanget over. I'm not a huge fantasy reader but you may make a convert out of me yet. This series sounds very rich and character driven. Great Review!

  3. Hi Leontine! Another stellar review hon!!! It sounds like you loved this one tons! I'll have to keep my eye out for this one! Bravo dear!!!

    I hope you are still feeling better from the bout with the flu! I'm so sorry I've been MIA So much lately work was a bear last week so I missed visiting my normal haunts and you know your place is one of my favorites!

    SNIFF but God willing this week will be more back to normal! I got your loverly button up at my place now YAY!!! Love the new three column layout too *can't remember if I already said that so wanted to make sure I told you.* :) OH and your redesign of Cecile's Place it's gorgeous great work hon!!!! BIG HUGS

  4. @Amy - If there is one trilogy I would love to re-read then it is the Mayfair Witches. Witch Hour alone is like a 1000 page novel 0-0a solid week worth of reading time ;)

    @Smokinhotbooks - breath in and breath out...it is what i do not to go stir crazy with want of this book. It seems like forever ago that I visited the IAD series. With DKOW it is a Wroth brother story to boot Yummy :D

    @JennJ - YAY Beefcake crew arrived at your place too *grin* They will have a blast, I know for sure! And I am finally so very very happy with my three column template and I'm not lifting a finger in my own html template for quite a while. For other peeps I might do a thing or two and glad you like the revamp of Cecile's place. As soon as we're both back in to the habit of things we will talk ;)

  5. Awe yes, I accutely remember the dissapointment that I felt that we weren't allowed to see in detail the physical relationship between Danielle and Daemon. You're right, the build up was intense and I too wanted more in the end. There was still emotional intensity but oh to see the physical....

    Great review, girl! Thank you again for the trip down memory lane.

    ;) VFG


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