The Black Jewels Trilogy

The Black Jewels Trilogy is fucking brilliant. Read it.

End of review.

Hmm. Yes, a sparse review but I’m struggling to find the words to describe the series that has held me captive for a little over a week. Reading the last word on the last page was painful. It was like breaking up with a really cool guy or having to put your favorite dog to sleep. Or maybe I just take my books a little too seriously. Either way, this Trilogy was one of the best — if not THE best — I’ve read to date.

Anne Bishop creates these worlds that not only suck you in, but they make you believe. They make you believe to the point of sadness when you realize that it isn’t real.

The Black Jewels Trilogy is dark and captivating to the point where you practically want to drown in it. The individual books are Daughter of the Blood, Heir to the Shadows, and Queen of the Darkness. Within the world that Bishop has created in these novels, women are the centers of the social structures. Powerful witches rule the lands and they draw to them lesser witches and powerful men that make up their court. As Queen, these witches are sworn to protect the people within their lands. The men of power in these novels are driven not only by social structure, but also by a powerful desire to serve their Queen.

The hierarchy of power among the ruling, or Blood, is shown through their Jewels. Each person with magical abilities is born at a certain level of power which ranges from light colored jewels down to black (Opal is the middle because it can be either dark or light) and then when they hit puberty they are given another set of jewels to display their power. The darker the jewels, the stronger the power.

Unfortunately, this society has been tainted by two women — Dorothea and Hekatah. Over centuries they have cultivated a perverted society that feeds on children and the non-Blood. They have systematically broken witches that could have been powerful leaders while allowing the old ways of holding women in regard to be degraded. It is because of this subtle taint that those who still believe in true power and balance dream of a day that Witch will be born. Witch will bring balance to the world.

Yes, I said Witch. Not a witch. Dreams made flesh.

Her name is Jaenalle.

In the first novel, we meet her as a sweet seven year old child and through-out the books we watch her grow and come to power. The trilogy ends when she is in her late twenties. We watch as Jaenalle grows into a powerful woman while dealing with a scarred and horrific childhood at the hands of her family and the tainted society that Dorothea and Hekatah have nurtured. We see the true power of Jaenalle in unifying the many people within her realm and even the kindred — animals that are Blood. As you watch her grow in her power, you also watch the very human side of her strive for acceptance and love while trying to protect herself from, well, thats where things get dark.

In a previous review of Bishop’s Sebastian, I made a comment to the affect that it wasn’t really the story but the characters that made the novel great. The story in that book was a tad watered down and nothing too bad really happened.

That isn’t the case in The Black Jewels Trilogy. Bad things happen. Very bad, dark things.

Light and hope are found in the most unlikely of places. Hell.

Keeping true to why I love this author, Bishop does a brilliant job in showing that power can be Dark or Light. The difference isn’t if your power comes from death and hell, or the sun and heavens; but what you do with that power, that matters. Even Saetan has a heart, compassion, and a desire to be loved.

So do his sons, for that matter. Daemon and Lucivar are their names. These three men become very special to Jaenalle and foundational characters in the trilogy.

Although dark, these books are nothing if not heartwarming. Bishop created a world of strong characters and compelling drama. Woven through-out this book is brilliant symbolism that one could write an entire review on, in and of itself. I think that symbolism — for me, anyway– was a deep part of the story that made it even stronger. The ending of the trilogy is perfect. Like a sip of strong coffee to cleanse the palette after the last bite of a rich, dark chocolate dessert.

A friend asked me about the books and the only thing I could think of to say was “demons and unicorns” fucking DEMONS and UNICORNS.” I think that sums it up nicely.

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1 Comment

  1. Nifty 20.Oct.11 at 8:16 pm

    Every time I read a review of the Black Jewels books, I want to re-read them. Honestly, I have no idea how many times I have read them, either in part or in their entirety. And every time, they captivate me. (And every time, I have to FORCE myself to read the Dorothea and Hekatah sections; those two women make my skin crawl with their vileness, but their sections are too integral to the story to skip.)

    As for me, I think the main draw of the series is Lucivar…and his membranous bat wings. Oh, okay…and maybe the refreshing philogyny. And the fact that they have toilets AND carriages. Agh! Must stop! (And simply go re-read! Thanks!)


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