Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Shalador's Lady - Anne Bishop

Shalador's Lady
Anne Bishop
Roc Publishing
Copyright: March 2, 2010

The Amazon.com product description:
For years the Shalador people suffered the cruelties of the corrupt Queens who ruled them, forbidding their traditions, punishing those who dared show defiance, and forcing many more into hiding. Now that their land has been cleansed of tainted Blood, the Rose-Jeweled Queen, Lady Cassidy, makes it her duty to restore it and prove her ability to rule.

But even if Lady Cassidy succeeds, other dangers await. For the Black Widows see visions within their tangled webs that something is coming that will change the land-and Lady Cassidy-forever...
I've read Shalador's Lady before, and the link to my review is here. This is the sequel to The Shadow Queen (which I reviewed recently here), and the two books are really tied together. These ones do require you to read them in order for maximum enjoyment, and it's also helpful to be somewhat familiar with the storyline and characters from The Invisible Ring, as the history told there has a lot of influence on the current events in both The Shadow Queen and Shalador's Lady. Despite that, it's one of my favourite books in the Black Jewels world - although there are some short stories in the two collections that almost equal it. Certainly one of them cracks me up every time I read it.

Cassidy is a character that I really grew to like through both books - though, as usual, the Scelties really steal the day. She's a very down-to-earth character, which I liked. The other thing about her is that she wears possibly one of the lightest jewels for a character in this world. It makes a nice change to see how things are experienced for someone who's not one of the most powerful beings in any of the three Realms.

I also have to say that I love the cover art throughout this series. It's both gorgeous and slightly spooky - which fits the atmosphere of the stories in my mind.  
The world itself is very different from most of the fantasy-based worlds I've read too, both in terms of magic and in the power-structures. Even the geography, with the various Realms and the portals between stands out.

Despite that, I'll be honest and say that no matter how much I enjoy the world of the Black Jewels, I don't think the books are for everyone. The character attitudes might be rather shocking to some, and I wouldn't recommend this series to younger teens either. Adults only.
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