New American Library
From the Amazon.com blurb:
Anne Bishop's debut novel, Daughter of the Blood, is like black coffee--strong, dark, and hard on delicate stomachs. 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?
This is the first of the Black Jewels series, and an incredible start at that. All of the characters have their quirks, the things that make them human in a brutal world.
There's Daemon Sadi, one of the most frightening characters when he's angry, and one of the main viewpoint characters. By turns cold and hot, he's near the center of everything going on, sometimes through misunderstanding, sometimes simply by chance.
Jaenelle, the girl who's the focus of the story as she grows up is another interesting character. Some think she's crazy, others see her for what she is - incredibly powerful and a symbol of what the Blood are all about.
Their world has been perverted from what it should be. Instead of being balanced under the laws of the Blood, it is falling further and further into a twisted shadow under the disasterous rule of the High Priestess of Hayall.
For all the world's detailed creation, there are a couple of things that don't quite seem to fit: mostly Mrs. Beale and her husband. No other character that I can find in the world of the Black Jewels is referred to by the title "Mrs." or "Mr.". That and names such as "Winsol" are the only jarring element to Anne Bishop's world.
One thing about this series: it is definitely not for children. The world is brutal and the characters frank about life, death and sexual activity. If that doesn't bother you, then give the books a try. I know I've read them through several times.
The other books in the series:
The Invisible Ring
Daughter of the Blood
Queen of the Darkness
Queen of the Darkness
Dreams Made Flesh
The Shadow Queen
Other reviews can be found at:
Books and Other Thoughts: Daughter Of The Blood
ReadingAdventures: Daughter Of The Blood by Anne Bishop