REVIEW: 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 - Anne Bishop

Okay. Deep breath.

I was super excited to read this series - a dark fantasy, with some romance thrown in? Sounds awesome. On top of that, almost every review I read at the time had praised this book and had me drooling.

Well... maybe it's just me then. But I thought that this trilogy, as a whole, was terrible.

The world we're thrown into in The Black Jewels series is like some sort of BDSM magical kingdom. Well okay, that's fine - I'm no prude. Yet, I couldn't help but find certain aspects, such as the Ring of Obedience concept (a magical cock ring that some men are forced to wear, which forces them into submission - yes, seriously), pretty hilarious. I mean... really?

Enter Daemon Sadi, our... male lead, I guess you could call him? Daemon is one of the few people in the series who can use the power of black jewels (pretty much, the darker the jewel, the more powerful it is). Oh, but there's a little snag for poor Daemon - he's stuck wearing one of those cock rings that I mentioned earlier, and is forced to be a pleasure slave. Yikes.

But, do you want to know the truth? I freaking loved Daemon. One of the main problems I had with this series is that there is just *not enough Daemon*. And I don't mean that in a "OH MY GOD, WHY IS HE NOT ON EVERY PAGE?" kind of way, but more like a "Oh my god, why is he hardly in the second book and just kind of *there* in the third book?" kind of way.

See, Anne Bishop has a tendency to do that in The Black Jewels. She *can* create compelling characters, but then throws those compelling characters aside to... try and create more compelling characters? Seriously, I don't know. We get to enjoy Daemon in the first book, but then his role is pretty much neutered for the rest of the series. Then, in the second book, we get to spend a lot of time with Lucivar, Daemon's half-brother. Hmmm, okay, well I like Lucivar as well... but, oh wait, in the third book he's randomly


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Um, *what*?

How about you devote some time to introducing that relationship rather than throwing in some character in the third book that we've never met before with an "oh by the way, Lucivar's married now."

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Why, why, why?!? I don't even...

Then of course, there's Jaenelle, the protagonist. When we are first introduced to Jaenelle in book one, she's nothing more than a child. She goes through some ordeals, to say the least, and you can't help but find yourself rooting for her, with your heart breaking for her at times, even though she's mostly of the Mary-Sueish variety. But, once she gets older, you really start to see and feel the "Mary Sue" in Jaenelle, and she's just not interesting enough on her own to hold up the series once Daemon is out of the picture.

I also got really frustrated with Jaenelle at times. For example,

when Daemon disappears after the first book (I won't spoil it by telling you the details), one of the reasons Jaenelle doesn't go after him is because all of her trauma has forced her to forget him (hey, we have to let some time go by so that she can grow up, or else the romance would be gross, right?). Once she eventually remembers him, I couldn't help but think, "Finally! Here we go! Go and find your man, Jaenelle." I mean, I definitely don't mind a story where the heroine has to save the hero from a bit of a jam, and Daemon was in a bit of a jam, to say the least. But then she... gets sidetracked, I guess? And instead, he ends up escaping his troubles without her help, and is eventually the one who goes and finds *her* (which is also mostly just incidental, really), rather than the other way around.

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While I enjoyed the first book in the trilogy (I'd give 3.5 stars out of 5.0 for book one), the second and third were so completely awful that they made me severely despise this series. They reminded me of a poorly written fan-fictions that take the author's world and introduce 8,000 characters, most with hardly any character development, that you just don't care about. Not only do you not care about them, but you get frustrated in them taking book time away from the characters you actually DO like. Then, of course, there's the problem of books two and three being very unfocused and with pretty crappy plots. It was like Bishop tried to coast on the world she created in the first book in books two and three, but it's not like the world she created was super awesome to begin with. I found myself eventually skimming through pages just to get through this trilogy, because it was just getting painful to read.

So, to sum up this review - these books had a *lot* of potential. A strange, dark world, a handful of compelling characters, and an intriguing romance that somehow managed to escape the "ick" factor even though the heroine was only a child in the first book. Had Bishop focused on these promising aspects throughout the series, and created a strong story to accompany them, my lasting impression of The Black Jewels would have been much different. But, instead, the series as a whole was like Bishop throwing a bunch of darts, hoping that *something* would stick and that it would make the series worthwhile. Well, nope, sorry, that didn't happen - at least not for me.