Shalador's Lady: A Black Jewels Novel
By Anne Bishop
Published March 2010, ROC
hardback, 476 pages
Return to the "intense...erotic...and imaginative" (Nancy Kress) world of the national bestselling Black Jewels novels in this sequel to The Shadow Queen.I found this book to be a very satisfying continuation of Lady Cassidy's story from The Shadow Queen (Black Jewels, Book 7). Even though a Bishop wields a substantial cast of characters between the pages of this book, each character is given his or her time in the spotlight, from my series favorites, such as Surreal and Daemon, to newer characters like Gray and Ranon. Each one has a subplot to work through, yet all loose ends are resolved quite neatly. I enjoyed how the plot would switch seamlessly between the story arcs of Cassidy's realm and Jaenelle's realm without taking away from either.
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...
This book seemed to give the reader a glimpse into how the tainting of the Blood occurred by how good men could become bound to bad Queens. Kermilla played the role perfectly by how naive and self-centered she behaved, making her completely oblivious to the trouble she was creating. It is easy to see what Theran sees in her, because it is clear to me that were she to ever learn to use her strengths for the good of others instead of herself, she could become a very powerful force. Though I could not stand Kermilla from the very beginning, I think her character has too much potential not to use her in further books in the Black Jewels series.
The Kindred of the Blood continue to take a vital role in the progression of the plot, which I find both ingenious and quite humorous, as they are unpredictable in many ways. With the Kindred involved, there is guaranteed to be surprises - both good and bad. I could easily see a Kindred-centered novella come out of this book.
My favorite part of this book was watching the transformation of Gray into Jared Blaed as him and Cassidy fall in love. The progression is slow without feeling dragged out, and each stage has its rewards, with his casual relationship with Jaenelle's inner circle, as well as his introduction into Cassidy's circle. I'm a bit disappointed that Bishop did not create a way for Gray to gain the power he missed out on the first time, simply because it feels like he was punished for what he had no control over in his past.
I also love the humor that Bishop interjects so effortlessly into the plot, such as the interactions between Ranon and Gray and the rest of Jaenelle's court. The same old chemistry is still there with all of the "former court," and I have to wonder if the references to her court don't indicate a coming change in future books. I greatly look forward to the next installment in the Black Jewels series, Twilight's Dawn: A Black Jewels Book.
The Cover: The cover features Cassidy's red-haired looks, which, in my opinion, are anything but "plain." I am not sure where the background is supposed to be, but it can only be one of two places to make any sense at all, namely the Grayhaven estates or the Shalador reserves. It works.
First Line: "As tales of the new queen's heart and courage spread through the Territory of Dena Nehele, the Black Widows felt something tremble through the land."
A great introduction that reminds me of Anne Bishop's way with words.
Favorite Quote: "Well, Hell's fire, woman! For just once in your life, be greedy!"
Read For: Support Your Local Library Challenge, Speculative Fiction Challenge