This is the first book in Anne Bishop's The Black Jewels trilogy, and I made the mistake of bringing only this one on vacation with me. I couldn't wait to read the next one!
This novel is told from multiple points of view, from everyone's point of view but the heroine of the novel. She is a child of prophecy, the one whose destiny is to right the many wrongs of Terrielle's warped society. Terreille's society is matriarchal, but while men once willingly served women, men are now enslaved and ruled by corrupt women who cruelly eliminate all threats to their power base, male or female.
Bishop's world is a complex place, and at the end of the novel I felt as though we had only scratched the surface. Much of the story is set in hell, with Saetan as the ruler, only he is not the spooky demonic lord one might expect. Rather, he is a father who grieves over the sons who were torn from him at a young age and forced into the most demeaning form of slavery, and who are beyond the reach of his help.
Enter Jaenelle, the Witch of prophecy. She is a mysterious child whose basic grasp of magical craft is so abysmal her family believes her to have no talent, but who can perform immensely powerful magical feats through intuition alone. She prances into hell one day, and before he knows it, Saetan becomes her teacher, along with many other of hell's denizens, who are equally charmed and infuriated by her. Saetan's lost son Daemon becomes her teacher as well, but in the world of the living. Jaenelle is a threat to the corrupt rulers who are determined to destroy her when they find her - and how can Daemon hope to help her, as much as he'd like to, when he is magically bound and controlled by those in power?
As talented as Jaenelle is, she is only a child - but she has seen things no child should ever see, and she has learned to hate. What will be the result if such power becomes twisted? What price will the world pay if her mental equilibrium is destroyed? This is a powerful beginning to a complex story, hard-hitting and graphic at times, and definitely not for the faint at heart.
Daughter of the Blood by Anne Bishop (Roc, 1988)