Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Shadow Queen - Anne Bishop

The Shadow Queen
Anne Bishop
New American Library
Copyright: 2008
9780451462541

From the chapters/indigo website:

From the national bestselling author of the new novel set in the "darkly fascinating world" ("SF Site") of the Black Jewels.
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've read The Shadow Queen before a few times now, and it and it's sequel, Shalador's Lady and these two are my favourites of the Black Jewels world. My original reviews for The Shadow Queen are here and here, and my review of Shalador's Lady is here.

I have to say, right off the bat that I love the cover art on all of the Black Jewels novels. To me it suits the story type and themes, not to mention the characters.

This is a world that I find that I can nearly always drop into and enjoy, even reading the books out of order, now that I've read and re-read them a few times. On the other hand, it's a world that drives me a little crazy at times too - some things about it are just a shade on the jarring side, such as some of the things that feel a little too modern for other elements of the world - coffee, some of the naming conventions - which stand out as only a couple of the characters are named that way, as compared to the uses of horses, carts etc. To be honest most of these grumbles come from my readings of the original Black Jewels trilogy, and not this duology though.

As I said though, this is an intriguing world and the magical structure is more or less unique in the way it works and the various limitations it has. Also, it's rather refreshing to read a book where it's not an automatic thing that the men are the rulers (although I'm generalizing quite a bit here).

Still, I quite like Cassidy and her love for the garden and the land, and it's nice to see a bit more of the fate of Jared's people. A large part of the more distant background referred to (though how distant that can be when there are characters alive who remember the characters from that book) is the tale told in The Invisible Ring, set distantly prior to the main trilogy.

Honestly, this series is not for everybody, but I quite like it, even though the books are something of a quick read. Still, The Shadow Queen made for a needed break from working on my assignments for the Berkley indexing course, and also is the first novel I've managed to finish in the last month or so.
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