Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Review: Daughter of the Blood by Anne Bishop (The Black Jewels Trilogy I)

Synopsis: Within the Blood (a race of magic-users), women rule and men serve, but tradition has been corrupted so that women enslave men, who seek to destroy their oppressors. Female children are violated before they can reach maturity; men are tortured and forced to satisfy witches' sexual appetites.

Bishop's child heroine, Jaenelle, is destined to rule the Blood, if she can reach adulthood. Her power is hidden; her family believes her mad. Saetan, High Lord of Hell and most powerful of the Blood males, becomes Jaenelle's surrogate father and teacher. He cannot protect her outside Hell, where he rules. She refuses to leave Terreille, risking herself to protect or heal other victims of violence. Can Daemon, Saetan's estranged son, keep her safe from the machinations of the evil High Priestess? Or will he lose his battle to control his destructive urges and endanger her?

Review: I have owned this book for several years and can't quite remember if I acquired it through purchase or gift. I choose to read it now because I wanted to read "high fantasy" as this book is called. I held much trepidation, certain I would get lost in the fantasy names, complex magic and politics.
While I almost did, I was surprised and not a little overwhelmed with how addicting this novel is. The characters are complex, deep, flawed and intense. The good guys live in Hell, the bad guy is the one who should be good, characters are gray, not black or white, good and evil. As for the world, the social hierarchy and rules are tangled, but accessible and I enjoyed the way each character responds differently to the same rules.
The main character is a girl named Jaenelle, but you never follow her. You only see the story for the point of view of the people around her. It is interesting to me that the entire story revolves around her but you never see inside her. You only see what she shows the other characters. This keeps your interest in her strong and intense. The story is intense, mysterious, and engaging. Things rarely turned out as I expected but often as I felt they should. I was rarely disappointed in where the story went.
My only complaint is the heavy dose of sex. As two of the main characters are sex slaves, the main villain is a rapist and a pedophile, and the society as a whole is highly sexual, it's part of the story. A strong thread in the story is the relationship between men and women. In this society, sex is a large part of that relationship. I would not characterized Bishop's use of sex as gratuitous, but it was a bit much from my prudish nature. I would caution anyone reading this to be aware of the heavy eroticism and sexuality in this work.

8 of 10


Date Finished: 4-3-2011
Pages: 416

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