Saturday, September 1, 2007

Black Jewels trilogy continues...

Often I find the the second volume of a trilogy is a bit of a letdown. It's often nothing more than a bridge between the first and third volumes, without enough of a narrative arc to make the book truly satisfying. I'm pleased to report that this is not the case with Anne Bishop's Heir to the Shadows.

If you are reading this and haven't read the first volume in this excellent (so far, for me) trilogy, beware that there may be spoilers to the first one. If you would like to know a little about Daughter of the Blood, volume one in the trilogy, click here.

Heir picks up where Daughter of the Blood ended, more or less. The fate of Jaenelle is up in the air, and all those who love her and support her are helpless to do anything to bring her back to the world of the living. Daemon is missing; Lucivar, his half-brother, is tricked into believing Daemon brutally raped and murdered Jaenelle, so when Daemon comes to him for help, Lucivar refuses. Meanwhile Heketah, the villain who so nearly destroyed Jaenelle in the first volume, has hatched a dastardly plot to get the witch she fears, whose power she craves to control, under her thumb, once and for all.

These books are tightly plotted, with deft point-of-view shifts that ratchet up the tension and move the story forward at a gripping pace. At the same time, Bishop creates characters with depth and emotional complexity. The complicated world that was only seen in bits and pieces in the first book is more fully revealed in this one, leaving the reader with a true sense of wonder - and of dread. One thing that made these books so compelling for me is that Bishop never pulls any punches. Truly horrific things happen, and they can happen to characters you care about, so you can never feel complacent or safe. And when the most dastardly characters get their comeuppance, it is often in such a brutal way that you almost (but not quite, because the villains are really villainous) feel pity for them.

This book stands on its own, in a plot sense - it doesn't leave the reader hanging at the end. Yet there is definitely the sense of more to come, with characters that have moved into position for the start of a final confrontation. Judging from the first two volumes of this trilogy, it's going to be very satisfying conclusion.

Heir to the Shadows by Anne Bishop (Roc, 1999)

7 comments:

  1. I didn't read all of your review because this trilogy sounds fascinatin, and I didn't want to spoil any surprises. I'll need to pick up the first one when I have a chance. You're always reading something new and exciting to me.

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  2. Thanks, Bellezza - I know what you mean about not wanting to spoil surprises. I hardly ever read the whole of a review (especially in a journal or newspaper) because it invariably gives away too much (although I'm admittedly a bit extreme in my love of going to a book with as little foreknowledge about it as possible - I only read maybe the first couple sentences of the flap or back cover!).

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  3. I didn't read the whole review either for the same reasons as Bellezza. This really sounds like a great trilogy, and I'm glad to hear the second book isn't a letdown, which is something I've seen much too often.

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  4. You know...someone else recommended this trilogy to me. I think I really need to get right on reading it!!

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  5. Well, I'll be looking forward to hearing what the two of you think about it when you read them. I doubt I would have picked this up based on the cover (and first few sentences on the back) had I not heard such good things about it ahead of time. The cover on my copy (different from the one in the picture) appears dated and a bit generic - as though it's just one among many other high fantasy series, when it's anything but. I'm certainly glad I read them (and I'm almost reluctant to read the third one, even though there are additional books written about this same world, because I will be sad when this particular story is over).

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  6. Trust me here---book three is in no way a let-down from the first two. If anything it's even better, although I know it's hard to imagine that being possible. =)

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  7. Thanks, Heather - that is good to hear. I am loving this series!

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