The Black Jewels Trilogy by

12 March 2007

Rated :

ISBN: 0451529014

  1. Daughter of the blood
  2. Heir to the shadows
  3. Queen of the darkness

Group read – FantasyFavorites

I am Tersa the Weaver, Tersa the Liar, Tersa the Fool.
When the Blood-Jeweled Lords and Ldies hold a banquet, I’m the entertainment that comes after the musicians have played and the lithesome girls and boys have danced and the Lords have drunk too much wine and demand to have their fortunes told.

More about The Black Jewels I’m very much in two minds about this trilogy. One the one hand I read it all in the space of two days, and it is quite long at over 1200 pages. But on the other hand it read like fanfiction to me. And not very good fanfiction. Come to think about it, that may be the reason I read it so fast. The more I read, the more I saw Jaenelle as a Mary-Sue device and less as an actual character.

The prologue tells of Tersa’s prophecy, that a Queen will come who will lead the Blood back from the brink of all that is wrong, and the rest of the book details this Queen’s emergence.

But the writing never really makes Jaenelle come alive. She never felt real to me, and so I wasn’t all that engaged in her story. And while I vaguely enjoyed reading about some of the other characters, I never loved any of them. I could have grown quite fond of Surreal I think, if only because it is a great name to have, but we didn’t see enough of her. And what we did see was fairly clichéd. Actually, I think that was the problem throughout the trilogy. It was pretty predictable and easy to read, and the characters never really did anything that wasn’t stereotypical.

Still, the world Bishop created is fairly entertaining. Though why she felt the need to call the underworld Hell is beyond me. Nothing remotely hellish happened there. I’m equally at a loss to explain her choice of names, eg Daemon and Saetan. They seem to suggest that she wants to have the mystery and sexiness of the “dark side of the force”? but this is never really built on. Yes, sometimes it is mentioned that this character can be very, very bad, but it is all hints and the vaguest of mentions of what they might do. We never really read about real darkness.

Perhaps that was to maintain the mystery, or maybe Bishop figured that there it is darker if you use your own imagination, but she doesn’t hint enough to let the reader wander deeper on their own. Instead she merely says, such and such was in pain. A lot of pain. Very bad pain. She tells but doesn’t show, and doesn’t tell enough make up for the lack in description.

And then there was the repetition of certain phrases. People were constantly snarling. Daemon was constantly putting sliding his hands into his pockets. However, I am willing to allow that this was probably made worse by the fact that I read all three books without break. Still, you need to find more than one way to describe anger in someone’s voice and not simply repeat the snarling.

And yet I read it all. And I’d have to say it was entertaining, and readable, and gripping, in its own way. But I can’t recommend it to anyone.

LibraryThing | Wikipedia | Revisiting the Moon’s Library | Bibliophile Stalker

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22 Responses

  1. luxdancer says:

    Nope, I read it with a good amount of space between each book and I still agree with your sentiments. There's something interesting about the books, enough to keep you going, but they really aren't that good. It DID feel like fanfiction.

  2. Fence says:

    Ah well, good thing I didn't buy any more in the series :)

  3. Crystal May says:

    I just wanted to comment on how you remarked that nothing bad actually happened and the men were only "very, very bad." I wonder if you actually DID read these books without skipping major parts? If you had, then of course you never saw anything bad happening. In fact, if you had read 'Dreams Made Flesh' and the story of 'Kaeleer's Heart' then perhaps you would see that Daemon was brutal. Not to mention, the way he splattered that witch in Dorothea's home showed how cruel and heartless he really was.

    Furthermore, don't you think that Lucivar's treatment of that man after Jaenelle was fed that drug was "very, very bad"? Not to mention, in 'Dreams Made Flesh,' in the story 'Zuulaman,' Saetan destroyed a whole landscape, not to mention all the people and things they created. Would you not say that is cruel?

    I won't bother in listing all the terrible things these men, who you claim are only hinted at being "very, very bad," actually did.

    In short, I don't think you actually read all of this but skimmed through it. If you had read it, and hadn't actually skipped parts, you wouldn't be making inaccurate claims.

    Thank you for your time.

    -Crystal May

  4. Fence says:

    Hi Crystal May, yes the character do do "bad things" but it is very rarely described in any of the three book of the trilogy, obviously I can't comment about Dreams Made Flesh because I haven't read it.

    To be more specific, what I was wondering about was why Bishop felt she had to have the whole Underworld/Hell vibe going on when in reality her characters were the good ones.

    All the "splattering" I read about happened as a result of reactions against other actions. Sure it isn't fluffy and light, but neither is it hellish and fiendish.

  5. Salanti says:

    You have read the book, yes, but you didn't take the time to enjoy the book. That is the difference from what you are saying there.

    The Black Jewels Trilogy is a great series, and I really don't get what you are saying when you say it is written like a fanfiction, I myself write fanfiction and read it, and it is no where close. And each writer has their own reasons for everything, Calling the Underworld as Underworld would have stopped me from reading it. And in any way does that actually matter? From the way you are talking, it more or less sounds like you are more judgemental of the characters then the actual story line. and To Judge that whole book, you would also have to read Dreams Made Flesh, which goes indepth with Daemon, Lucivar and Saetan, of which you can understand the characters more, Invisible Ring would explain the use of the rings, and Tangled Webs is more of a fanfiction, yet still a good book.

    In anycase, I think you shouldn't EVER comment on this book without taking the time to read it, like a week. I don't think you should comment on ANY book unless you do that, and try to think of the author reasoning behind it.

  6. Michael Smith says:

    Um… wow. Where to begin. First, I guess I must point out a flaw in the idea of a website that analysis's literature, yet does not know of any literary devices, tools writers use to show individual style and convey meanings. For example, you seemed to miss entirely the Heaven-Hell naming this book has, throughout its entirity. Saeten, Daemon, Luci'V'ar, Angelline, Memphis, SaDiablo… the list goes on. I can only guess at the reasoning behind it, but i would assume that, because, as you say, the Hell described has nothing to do with the Hell typically thought of, Anne's idea was to show her readers that names are just that, and have little meaning aside from the steriotype.

    Repetition is a personal taste, as far as how much is too much. Personally, I thought the snarls were amusingly placed and spaced, and expecially on the women in the novel, it is the perfect noise of frustration fo rthem to make. Because is it usually seen as a male sound, a violent, almost animal thing, for a woman to snarl is a shock, something to make you consider the hatred or fury in the woman that did it. The placing of Daemon's hands, another requently repeated action, is in fact a symbol, and not even an extremely obscure one. when Daemon places his hands in his pockets, he is sheathing his greatest weapons; the hands he uses to brutally, mentally, rape women and man alike. He is saying "I know I can hurt you, and I am mad enough to, but I will give you one chance to recogise this as your first, last, and only warning, and walk away."

    The Darkness, which you only briefly mention and, I am sure, never understood, is the people of this book's religion. I have no doubt, due to its lack of capitialization in your review. it is the well from which comes the Blood's power, and is it where thier souls go when they die. If you missed this very obvious part of the novel, then it is likely exactly as Crystal May said; that you either skipped large sections, or perhaps read nothing more than its cover and Wikipedia entry.

    Another point I would like to make is your grossly inaccurate description of Jaenelle and Anne Bishop's description skills in general. If you would take the time to read the novels, you would find Jaenelle's personality quite developed, to the point where she had more than one . Four, in fact. She had Witch, the primal urge inside of her, that embodied the Blood's code of honor to its fullest. she had the dopey, unintelligent Jaenelle, the beaten and beaen down child, the side that she showed to her biological family, to fool them and to hide her true Self (notice capitialization, as the "Self" is the Blood's word for soul.) The third was Jaenelle-Queen, the regal adult woman with a fast mind, who was quick to pass judgement on a situation (i am citing her easy acceptance of Daemon's manservant) and unhesitating in her justice (citing the Web, woven to kill the hunters of the unicorns). The fourth was the girl-Jaenelle, observed most ofen when around Lucivar, the flighty, chronically happy girl that seemed to remind the reader of a "kitten trying to pounce on a large, hoppy bug." (Almost direct quote from book, I do not have a copy at this moment and as such cannot look up exact wording or page number).

    The last point I would like to make is dealing with a quote from your own review, and yet another majorly important part of the book you seemed to miss. "It was pretty predictable and easy to read, and the characters never really did anything that wasn’t stereotypical." One of the main struggles in the book is a worldwide class struggle. Jewel rank, Caste, and social position constantly give you a higher or lower role in society. But the point you seemed to miss is that, of the three (Jewel, Caste, position) only one can be changed, from the time you are born. Your caste, in particular, cannot be altered at all, and since a Caste by definition if the novels was the prescribed ways any given person of that caste was going to act to a situation, it is not only unsurprising, it is wholly expected for a character to respond according to his Caste. Because that is his Caste. (Notice repitition of the word "Caste", not wholly 'good literature' but it is not yet bad literature, and serves to drive home the points of personal preference and of unescapable Caste).

    In conclusion, *breath*, I would simply ask that you reread the books, and actually read them, as opposed to holding it in front of you and turning pages, before writing a review. It seems to me, as I have proven above, that you have not read this book deeply enough to give a plot analysis, let alone a review on its characters or the skill of the author. Of course, again considering the title of tis website, perhaps this series is simply too literary for you, and you should stick to simpler works.

  7. Fence says:

    Jeez, enough with the ott defending of these books. So you all liked them, maybe even loved them, good for you. I didn't. And trying to insult me by telling me I didn't read them properly, or didn't understand them won't change my mind. They were average stories with nothing that really stood out.

    "I guess I must point out a flaw in the idea of a website that analysis's literature"

    Dude, pwned.

    That was mean of me, I admit, I often mess up with typos and spelling errors, but I just can't resist. Especially since you're giving out that I missed the allusions to hell in the names of the characters. I mentioned that I didn't get why she chose those particular names, but maybe I wasn't obvious enough in my argument. I meant that she gave he characters names like demon and satan etc but that they never behaved like that. Nor were they evil. So obviously I figured out that it was a device the author was using.

    I stand by my review. From my reading experience these books are average at best. End of…

  8. Mary Anne says:

    This was my introduction to this genre of writing and although I was highly sceptical at first (I admit the names Saetan, Lucivar, etc…annoyed me) I was also rather quickly drawn into this world and grew to feel deeply for the characters, including the Kindred. I've read a lot of the "great books" of literature as well as a lot of non-fiction and any author who can make me laugh and/or cry, not to mention stay up WELL past my bedtime, has my nod of approval. Overall I would write that my time was very well spent indeed.

  9. Fence says:

    Mary Anne, I'd agree. Any book that can make me read when I should be sleeping is a good one. I'm glad you enjoyed the series, they just weren't to my taste is all.

  10. Brea says:

    I quite loved this series. As a matter of fact, I've reread them so many times the books are falling apart. I understand that they may not be everyone's cup of tea. However, let me point out something interesting… I've had a couple of my friends read these books, girls and boys alike. Four boys to be exact and about three or four girls. The boys all hated it, for whatever reason, maybe the matriarchal society scared them? Or maybe it was the ball splitting.. I'm not quite sure. However, they didn't like it much.

    However, I found Anne Bishop's writing style quite interesting she wrote almost in a poetic way. I loved the way that she described the scenery and the people in the book. And unlike fence, I think that the character growth throughout the story was well done. And once again, not to pick on you fence, but I do believe that there was a reason she chose to name Hell 'Hell', and if you missed that point, then I think you did miss out on a lot of the story. It was to purposely point out a contradiction… and possibly to, as 'Michael Smith' said, to show that stereotypes and first impressions aren't really what they seem to be.

    Overall, I do believe that this is a great series. However, everyone is entitled to their opinions. If you like fantasy books, I believe that you'll like this.

  11. Fence says:

    Hi Brea,

    thanks for the comment. I'm guessing the fellas don't like the ball splitting all right :)

    I love fantasy books, and despite the fact that my responses to comments here have gotten more and more negative I did enjoy these books, a certain amount, but I also had issues with some parts. If you loved them, then thats great. It'd be a boring world if we all enjoyed the same stuff all the time :)

  12. angel says:

    I have recently read the trilogy adn i have to say i love it. i am also a great reader of a wide variety of fanfiction, and i have to say the main distinction between a book and a fanfiction is that a book writer has the responsibility of writing original characters, landscapes, etc. and a fanfiction writer takes preexisting characters and builds them even more, whether they write an AU or add new characters, plotline, new ideas etc. Both the writers have a great responsibilty to their readers. That being said this trilogy was very well written and it was one of the rare books that compelled me to read more and know more the more i read. The characters are unique in their own and though all are broken in some way or the other, they interact remarkably with each other and complete each other. The books do have references to many things which are probably not to many peoples taste and it is much darker series than what i typically read, but despite of those things, or maybe because of them the characters and the story has a dimension to it that makes it compelling. As for the names and references of the characters, it can only ever truly be explained by the author but i felt that the names suited and yet not. It seemed in many ways that a prevelant theme of the series was being of but not….."human and alien", etc. and the names and settings represent that. Also, for me the characters are so prevelant and vibrant that i want to know how, why, and now what? and i want someone to write a fanfiction pertaining to these characters and their lives. It impresses me that knowing these are "only" characters I still want to know more. I cant say much more but i would recommend reading them atleast once

  13. Sai says:

    I thought these books were brilliant.

    (p.s. I loved all the snarling that went on!)

  14. Razz says:

    Hmmm…..interesting. You bring up some good points here. I have to say I love the books and read them almost every time I visit home. Basically, the series has become my comfort reading because it is 100% brain candy for me. This is to say, it is very entertaining and I like pouring over the different themes in the book…but I have to agree that in terms of "great fantasy literature" it is not on the top. I wouldn't call Jaenelle the main character of the story but rather a central "focus" that the story revolves around. I would say that the three men, Saetan, Daemon, and Lucivar are the main characters (or they should be) because they are Anne Bishop's greatest asset in the series. However, as fun as these characters were to read about, they were not necessarily evocative enough in their depictions in the book to move me on any significant emotional level. As I have read and re-read the books I have formed my own assumptions about their characters that has built up a little bit more of an emotional bond with the story and I think that sort of wiggle room can be good to have from the author's perspective. But I have to agree that the series depends on the reader's taste and commitment to the ideas Bishop is trying to convey. Reading her preface in the one volume version gave a great deal of insight into what she was trying to convey with this story and as I said before, there were themes that I thought were very thought provoking and I expect I'll continue to re-read the books whenever my brain needs a break from academics.

  15. JS says:

    I liked this trilogy mostly because of characters. I read quite many fantasy series and im kinda getting tired of "farm boys saving world" theme.

    Characters in black jewels trilogy are quite special ones i liked most of them since they are nice for most of time, but they have their dangerous and cruel side too and they arent innocent "farm boys" or anything like that Sadi and Yasi were pleasure slaves and Surreal was prostitute so they arent actually typical fantasy characters. Main characters are great, but i think that there is too many of side characters. Some of Jaenelles friends and members of first circle were only mentioned few times in books, but still i had conception that they used quite much time at Sadiablo hall.

    I wouldnt say that Bishop is great writer. She should have more about craft since its one of "main elements" of trilogy. Story itself could have been alot better. Its enjoyable, but it could have been better.

    I wouldnt really recommend this trilogy for anyone, there are better ones than this, but atleast i enjoyed it and i will reread it when i have time.

    Sorry for my bad english, its not my native language so i probably made some grammar and spelling mistakes.

  16. Vilma says:

    I come here as a *huge* fan of this story. I love everything, the world, the plot, and the characters, especially Daemon and Surreal.
    I read this because a friend told me I'd like it. I read the cover, read the names of the characters and I was like: "What? Saetan? Lucivar?!!" I have to say, it felt weird to read the names in the beginning. Then, as I kept reading the story, the characters and the culture grew on me, until I started to think about how things worked in that world. That's one of the reasons I like this books so much. I love to read, and this story changed the way I read and the way I see the stories I read.
    One basic aspect of this story, very important to understand it, it's that everything is basically the opposite of what we know: the concept of Darkness is not bad, actually it's their religion; the Shadow Realm is where the good guys are, the Light Realm is really messed up; women rulle, men serve (and they feel okay about that, when honoured); there's no law against murder; the names that in real world have a "bad meaning" in the Blood world are perfectly natural and normal (and I think that's the idea of the names); and so on… One example: Daemon (not the same as Demon), according to a site with Name meanings, means "guardian spirit", so I don't really see anything evil in that.
    About Jaenelle being a Mary Sue, I agree, but I think it's the point of that character. I mean, she is made of people's dreams and she is supposed to save everyone. That has to make her a Mary Sue. But, even then, there were a couple of things that helped avoid this detail. For example, we never read anything from Jaenelle's point of view. We always see the story (and the character) through the eyes of other characters. We never really know what she's thinking. Also, Witch is the really Mary-Sue (almost like a goddess to the Blood), but Jaenelle has a different personality, and makes mistakes too. Another example: when Jaenelle remembered what had happened to her and remembered Daemon too, she accused Saetan, she basically said it was his fault. She was being unfair, and I felt angry with her (and I believe almost everyone who read this felt the same). So, although she's almost perfect every time, she makes mistakes too, and she is unfair sometimes, and she is cruel when she wants revenge.
    As Brea and Michael Smith pointed out, I also believe that one of the major aspects of this story is dealing with 'stereotypes'. This book taught me to see beyond the "cover" of the characters and situations. And it taught me to think about what I read, because I end up understanding much more about this whole different world and culture. This is a totally different world, a different culture, Blood have different laws and a different code of Honour, and Protocol, and all that stuff. They have a different sense of morality, and that's obvious compared to the Landens. It's said in the book Landens cannot understand and live by the same rules.
    So, I made an effort to read this without any 'pre-conceptions' (does this word exist in english?!), without judging names or actions before I knew why. And I have to say, I loved the experience. And that's probably why Daemon is my favorite character. Is has this mask, the Sadist. That's the first thing we see about him, and he seems cruel and evil. That's what everyone thinks without knowing him. Then we get to know him and we find this generous, nice man. (I have a platonic crush, yes…)
    About the whole violence thing, the only thing I can say is, a friend of mine stopped reading this after 10 pages or so, because she said with was too violent for her. So, I don't really understand your argument of them only being mentioned as being "very, very bad". I mean, Daemon is absolutely cruel, and Dorothea is just… nasty. Not all kinds of violence have to be physical.
    Finally, about the repetition, it's a style, and allows us to identify with the characters. If you pay attention, there's probably something you usually do a lot. Daemon puts his hands in his pockets a lot, I am always running my hands through my hair, another person might do something else. It's normal. And the snarling, well, I liked it too. It's what they do, they're males.
    I guess that's what's so great about fantasy and why I love it so much. You can create, you have no limits, only your imagination. The characters can be whoever you want them to be. And what is bad or wrong for us, might not be in the world you created. I think that's refreshing.
    In conclusion, I won't tell you to re-read it, many people said that. But, if you do, do it slower and, if you want, try to keep in mind it's supposed to be a different world, different personalities, and different ways to deal with each other. I would recommend this to everyone who can deal with a violent and erotic story (and everyone I know that I recommended the books, liked them too).
    I guess that's it. Sorry for any bad spelling or if something is not comprehensible, but english is not my first language.

  17. R says:

    I read your review and I thought you were spot on. I did enjoy the series, but it definitely had a fan fiction vibe going on. Particularly with Jaenelle it's like every five seconds she was running off to save the unicorns or whatever, and I found it a little tiring and very much a Mary Sue device.

    While it began with a very interesting premise it quickly was swept away by predictable characters and flat dialogue.

  18. Fence says:

    Yikes, sorry for not replying to people in so long. My bad.

    Angel, I'm glad you had such a positive experience of the books. I love when I finish a book and want to know more about the characters and would love to read more novels with them in it. It is part of the reason I reread books, because I loved the characters.

    Sai, to each their own I guess :)

    Razz, I have nothing against brain candy, it is very necessary on occasion. It is a subjective thing and these books just don't do anything for me. But there are books that I love, all the while knowing that they aren't great works of "literature" or anything approaching that. I still love them.

    JS your English is excellent. Much better than my ability in any foreign language so no cause for concern there. I totally understand you getting bored with the whole "farmboy" stereotype. It can be a very lazy plot setting.

    Villa, as with my comment to JS I have no complaints whatsoever about your English ability. I guess part of my point was to wonder why Bishop used words and names that have such connotations at all. If she was going to rehabilitate them then fine, but it seemed to me that she just thought the Dark was "cool" and that calling a character Lucivar or Daemon would add to them without her having to do any work.

    R, yea, that is pretty much my view in a nutshell. Nothing too bad, nothing too good. Passable entertainment.

  19. she-spider says:

    I come to you as someone who fell in love with these books. I will say, I don't think they went into great detail about Jaenelle. But I think thats part of the charm of the book is not knowing really what she is thinking. Probably partially because she has so many random aspects of her.

    The names got me as well at first, and still sometimes do. I get that it is a kind of play on how darkness is the way of life and a part of who they are. Perhaps a tad more creativity could have been used there, but it happens.

    This world in the series was… and this is going to sound odd: it was the world of my dreams. I have had dreams about a world like this, a religion and society like this. And then I found a series that let me: for a brief moment feel like it truly existed. I loved surreal, and daemon. I believe you have the right to dislike this series, but it happened to be my cup of tea.

    • Fence says:

      Hi She-spider, it is great when you come across a book that speaks to you like that. I'm glad you enjoyed it so much.

  20. Faile says:

    I loved these books. I usually read fiction (specifically fantasy) for fun and there are only a couple of series that I truly have fell "in love" with, and all for different reasons. I loved A Wheel of Time, A Song of Fire and Ice, Kushiel's Dart (and the rest of the books), the Golden Compass series, Harry Potter (to an extent…), etc. The reason I loved The Black Jewels Trilogy was because of it's ability to leave certain aspects open to me for imagination. There were many spots in the book where the reader must draw their own conclusions, and I found that refreshing. Other series I've read have required the reader to pay immensely close attention to detail, with hardly any room for your own assumptions to be made. I love those types of books just as much, but differently. (The Wheel of Time series had hundreds of characters; each character played a distinct part even if you didn't realize it, and throughout the [currently] 13 books, there was so much forshadowing that you only realize what you missed the second and third times through reading the series!) I loved to imagine how dark the characters were, how bleak the lifestyle of the people was in the Black Jewels. Another thing that I really loved about the books is that they gave the readers room to concentrate on the emotions and feelings and undercurrents in the books, opposed to the details. I can remember laughing out loud numerous occasions, especially when Jaenelle was a child and went to Saetan with childish questions and an innocent mind, and Saetan was so floundered and astounded, his remarks made me laugh. The tension between characters and the "unspoken" words made this trilogy truly special to me. Granted, it was a very, very easy read, and not as graphic or detailed as I would like at times. But luckily for me, I have a good imagination and I can fill in the blanks and make up possible scenarios that satisfy those lacks.

    As a previous reader mentioned before, the trilogy is something that I reread often when I want something easier to read. It still stimulates my imagination (if it didn't, I wouldn't read it!) and I only reread certain sections because I love the wording. I reread the parts where Daemon is living in Jaenelle's home when she's a child, her lessons with Saetan, the horrific torture at Briarwood, when Jaenelle finally meets Lucivar again, and the good chunk of space where Daemon is finally a part of Jaenelle's Court again. I know what happens in between, but for some reason I really enjoy reading those specific parts of the story.

    I wish books had alternate endings, sort of like movies do. :)

    I agree with those people above that say the names are…seemingly unfit. And that there is a great deal of repetition, and almost too much of a lack in the "darkness" in the books.

    To that, I say: I grew to love the names, they don't bother me anymore, a name is a name; the repetition is mildly irritating but its tolerable; and I really wish Bishop would have spaced out the books so that it included Daemon, Saetan, Lucivar etc, in their previous lives and all of the violence and eroticism that she could manage, and THEN got to Jaenelle coming into their lives. I would have devoutly read all of the books she wrote if they were sequential and were interesting enough. Perhaps if the readers had a feel for the male characters before the lead female was introduced, then they would feel more compassion and love, and interest in what happened to everyone.

    Read the books if you'd like. Don't look too deep for fancy words and profound plot lines. The magic is in the character interactions and your interpretation.

    • Fence says:

      Hi Faile,

      I could guess from your name that you are a Wheel of Time fan, I love that series too. I haven't read A Song of Fire and Ice yet, but am really enjoying the tv version. I really enjoyed the first Kushiel series, but as of yet have not gotten around to the second.

      Glad you enjoyed the Black Jewells, even if I didn't, each to there own is what I say. It's be a pretty boring world if everyone liked the same stuff.