dinsdag 29 maart 2011

Anne Bishop - Dark Jewels series - a few reviews

The last days I have immersed myself in the Dark Jewels series, rereading the lot of them (again). I had some reviews written a few years back, which I will post here now. I so love this series.

Anne Bishop – Tangeld Webs – Black Jewels part 5


[i] The invitation is signed "Jaenelle Angelline," and it summons her family to an entertainment she had specially prepared. Surreal SaDiablo, former courtesan and assassin, arrives first. But when she enters the house, Surreal finds herself trapped in a living nightmare created by the tangled webs of Black Widow witches...and if she uses Craft to defend herself, she risks being sealed in the house forever.

But Jaenelle did not send the invitation. And now Jaenelle and her family must rescue Surreal and the others inside without becoming trapped themselves-and then discover who has created such a place, and why... [/i]

I really wanted to go to bed early this evening. So after the short story The Price, which is about Surreal, I wanted to read a bit in this book. But how can you stop reading, when someone is trapped in a haunted house? I just had to keep reading, I had to know what would happen next.

And this means a lot, because I hate horror stuff, you can’t pay me enough to ever visit a spooky house on the fair or watch a scary movie, or read a scary book. I have read Raymond E. Feist Fairytale years ago, and still have nightmares about it.

This books take place after the trilogy, and in my opinion can be read solo, so I hope I don’t include spoilers for anyone.

Jaenelle hears a landen boy telling things that are “common knowledge” about how the Blood lives. And she gets this idea to build a spooky house, where those tales are truth, that Blood and landen can visit. So with the help of Marian she furnishes her version of a house of horrors with illusions and Tangled Webs. But there is someone very angry with her, for stealing his idea, and for neglecting him, for laughing at him.
So this person builds his own house of horrors, and then invites her family to a visit. But the only ones arriving are Surreal and her escort. To gain entrance after a long wait, they invite some landen children to come with them. And when they find themselves trapped in the house, where they cannot use their Craft, they feel responsible for those children. But the horrors in the house are plenty, and meant to be deadly. And the children are not really obedient types, so …

When Jaenelle and Daemon arrive, they cannot enter for they would be trapped also. Daemon wants to keep his father and brother save, so he sends them messages to stay home. He himself goes looking for clues who is behind this, and why. Because one of the witches who made the spells for this place is someone he knows very well. Jaenelle waits outside with a little orphan boy, who tells her the first part of the mystery. And then Witch and Daemon make their own Tangled Webs, so the man who made the house will pay the price.

But it takes Lucivar and his fighting skills to defeat the house. But is he in time to save Surreal and the others?

This really was another great story by Anne Bishop. It just kept me reading. In the beginning, it is the interaction between the main characters in the series, learning more big and little things about their backgrounds, that makes the reader understand more about the previous books and the why’s of their actions. When Surreal and Rainier are trapped, you have to know what will happen next. What will they do, use craft and protect the children and pay the price for that, or try to survive without the craft and still pay the price?
And the end, the end is just great, and scary.

I have always liked Surreal, so I loved to have her in this book as one of the main characters. I still want to know more about her mothers people, perhaps in the next book The Shadow Queen, which will be out in March 2009.

But to sum it up, a book filled with great characters, strong females and alpha males, magic, mystery, love, family, magical animals, emotions, humor, what more can a reader ask for?

9 stars

Anne Bishop – The invisible ring – Dark Jewels prequel


[i] Jared is a Red-Jeweled Warlord bound as a pleasure slave by the Ring of Obedience. After suffering nine years of torment as a slave, he murdered his owner and escaped—only to be caught and sold into slavery once again. Purchased by a notorious queen, Jared fears he will share the mysterious fate of her other slaves—never to be seen again—and so prepares himself for death. But the Gray Lady may not be what she seems and Jared soon faces a difficult decision: his freedom, or his honor...[/i]

As a young man, Jared was tricked in putting on a Ring of Obedience, which turned him into an unwilling pleasure slave for the women of the court he is sold to, to do with as they please. He finally couldn’t take the abuse of his owner any more, and killed her and her brother. So now he is bound to be sold as a slave to the salt mines of Pruul. But then the Gray Lady buys him. And he just wished it would have been the salt mines. Because no slave has ever returned from the land of the Gray Lady. One of the few Territory’s left who fight Dorothea’s tainting influence.

Jared isn’t the only slave the Gray Lady has bought that day. So along with a few men, women and children the journey begins. But not an easy ride in a Couch along the Winds, but on foot and horseback through rough country, trying to reach the mountains of Tanamara before they are caught.

Dorothea gives her new Master of the Guard the task to kill the Gray Lady. She is one of the last strong witches left in Terreille, and without her, that Territory will have no choice but to acknowledge her as its mistress. Lord Krelis doesn’t think it will be very difficult to kill one Queen, away from her Court. But she deludes his traps somehow, escaping whatever he sends her way. And Dorothea, the Dark Priestess, is getting harder to please and more cruel every day.

I loved Jared. He has suffered being a pleasure slave, and if it wasn’t for the lessons he got from Daemon Sadi, he wouldn’t have survived those years.

But the things his father thought him as a young boy, the wish, the need to serve a Queen, they won’t go away. He is drawn to his new master, this strange Queen. She is old enough to be his grandmother, but he still wants to please her, protect her. He is no longer ringed, but he still cannot leave her, to face the dangers of the road alone, without trusted Guards at her side. The broken Black Widow witch, the other pleasure slave who is a young warlord prince, the children, the broken guard, the other men. One of them is a traitor, wanting to give them up to Dorothea, leaving enchanted messages for their pursuers, but they are unable to find out who it is. The Gray Lady doesn’t want to bring a traitor home with her, and they will have to take the more difficult road, and do their best to find out who they can trust in the end, and who not. And during the journey it seems as all of them are not who they seemed to be in the beginning. Most of al the Gray Lady …

Again, this is a great novel by Anne Bishop. She has really hooked me with this series, and I just have to try the others series she has written, waiting for the next book in this one. It is very difficult for me to write a decent review about this book, without spoiling any of the surprises, the great twists in the plot. There is a lot of hardship and grief, but also moments of love and honor, humor and magic. The characters are all so very much alive, you just tear up when you read about their lives.

And in the end, when Jared and Daemon meet, wow. You really need your tissues for that scene. At first, I missed the characters I came to love in the rest of this series, but Jared and Lia took me along on their journey towards trust and love. Because that is what the bond between a Queen and her men is.

9,5 stars

Anne Bishop – The shadow Queen – Black Jewels 6


[i]Dena Nehele is a land decimated by its past. Once it was ruled by corrupt Queens who were wiped out when the land was cleansed of tainted Blood. Now, only one hundred Warlord Princes stand - without a leader and without hope.

Theran Grayhaven is the last of his line, desperate to find the key that reveals a treasure great enough to restore Dena Nehele. But first he needs to find a Queen who remembers the Blood's code of honor and lives by the Old Ways. The woman chosen to rule Dena Nehele, Lady Cassidy, is not beautiful and believes she is not strong. But she may be the only one able to convince bitter men to serve once again.[/i]

Two years ago a storm hit the continent, and all the bad Blood Queens and tainted Warlords were killed instantly. After that the Landen rose in rebellion, and more Blood was killed. So now there are only 100 Warlord Princes left in Dena Nahele, and only very young or very old Queens with little power. They need a strong Queen to rule the men and the country, a Queen who knows the Old Ways. So Theran calls together all the Warlord Princes and Princes left in his country to find a solution. And it is decided he will go to Ebon Askavi, to find Daemon Sadi and ask for his help. Daemon owes his family a favor, and perhaps he will help them.

So Theran sets out to find Daemon, not knowing anything about the man, or his family. And so unknowingly he insults Saetan, never a smart thing to do. But Seatan takes him home to SaDiablo Hall, and Theran is horrified when he finds out the name of the place. After al, that was the name of the evil Priestess Dorothea. When he puts his request to Deamon, Daemon decides to help him out of regard for his ancestors, not for Therans sake. And Jaenelle knows just the Queen to ask.

Cassidy is a Queen, but she is not pretty, or ambitious, so when her court finally found that out, they abandoned her en masse for a younger and prettier Queen, causing Cassidy to lose her Court and the village she ruled. And then Jaenelle asks her to consider going to Dena Nahele, to be a Queen for a bunch of desperate men, who want to serve a reel Queen again. And she tells her how to know who to pick to be her first circle, how she will now who will be “hers”. And after long tought, Cassidy agrees. But when Theran first sees Cassie, he is very disappointed. She is not pretty at all, or powerful, how will she ever safe his country and his people? But they agree on a trial period of 1 year, with Deamon and Saetan and Lucifar looking after Cassidy, and receiving weekly reports from her. Theran still doesn’t understand who he is dealing with, and when he finds out about the Kindred, and that one of them will come with Cassie and help with his “training in manners” he really doesn’t know how to react anymore. A talking dog, a witch with a Purple Dusk Jewel, who orders him around?

When Cassidy arrives in Dena Nahele, in Grayhaven manor, she meets the Warlord Princes and Princes who want to serve her. Theran will be her First Escort, although they really don’t like each other. On the grounds she meets Theran’s cousin, Gray, a damaged male, tortured by a Queen who though she had captured the last heir of Grayhaven. And Cassidy and Gray are attracted to each other, but will Gray ever heal enough to find his place at her side, be able to enter the house, to be around other people instead of his little garden shed?

I totally loved this latest book by Anne Bishop. For the greatest enjoyment you really should read all the previous books, especially The Invisible Ring, as that provides a lot of the background for this story.

I loved Cassidy, she is hurt very much by the males of her own court, and doesn’t trust that easily anymore. And the way Theran treats her, doesn’t make it very easy. He just can’t look past her being not pretty, not powerfull. But she has a good heart, and really wants to make this work. And slowly the rest of the Court gets used to her, and to the Old Ways. And when they finally find out who her connections are, they are scared enough to learn Protocol and act conform the Old Ways. After all, that is what they asked for.

Theran I really disliked. He is just not good enough to be her First Escort. He is judgmental, he keeps blocking her in everything she wants. He doesn’t see what is right in front of him. But perhaps, if this series continues, he will find a Queen for himself, and finally come to his senses.

I loved Vae, the little Sceltie, she truly is hilarious, the way she orders Theran around, she even bites him occasionally. The other Warlord Princes and Princes are not really fleshed out much, only the inner circle, and I came to like them. They matured, and accepted Cassidy as their Queen, and finally took her side against Theran.

And then there is the hidden treasure, the legend of the Honey Pear tree, and only a true Queen will save the country. The magic starts unravelling when certain things happen, when decisions are made …

There are real emotions, hurt and disappointment, but also humor, laughter and love in this book. Great main and secondary characters. No lovescenes for Cassidy, but there are for Jaenelle and Daemon. A very dark story for Saetan when his memory is triggered the bad way, and some very humorous intervention from Lucivar when he comes to check up on Cassidy.

I loved meeting Saetan, Daemon, Lucifar, Jaenelle and the rest again, to know what is going on between them. A great book, a great story, a real keeper on my bookshelves. Bring on the next book!

4,5 stars

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