This book came from the library, and I will never give you less than an honest review, no matter its source. I do provide informational and purchase links to make it more convenient for you to access the book. I also receive a percentage of the sale if you use one of my links to buy it. And that's not enough money to be less than truthful *grin*.
Daughter of the Blood
by Anne Bishop
Series: The Black Jewels #1
Other books by this author that I've reviewed include Stranded.
Genres: Dark Fantasy
First in The Black Jewels dark fantasy series revolving around a group of Warlords and their anticipation of the first Queen/Witch in centuries who may be capable of freeing them and the lands. I think…
In 2000, Daughter of the Blood won the IAFA William L. Crawford Fantasy Award.
Oh man, oh man, this book is complicated and extremely intense. Partly due to the negative subject matter, partly through Bishop’s torturous teases. And Bishop is a master at the tease.
The world into which she throws us is incredibly complex with few references to which we can relate. Don’t sweat it. Slowly, slowly, slowly, as you read, more becomes clear…but definitely not all. It’s almost the worst tease of all, as I can’t stand having to wait to find out what happens in Heir to the Shadows and, hopefully, learn more about how they got themselves into this mess!
This world has an odd political structure that has obviously been in place centuries too long. It almost makes you realize how bad it would be to be able to live forever.
The Queens and other Blooded-Ladies are despicable — I get the impression that the Blood women have twisted the notion of “service”; their men are not much better. A Warlord Prince is supposedly a very powerful being, but it’s all relative, isn’t it?
All the “good guys” are awaiting the arrival of Witch.
There is a nasty, nasty twist that affects men and children, so be prepared.
It’s a dance of power with Daemon killing the Blood who follow Dorothea, and Dorothea killing anyone who might challenge her, subjugating other Territories to her own, manipulating the breaking of young queens in their Virgin Nights so they never achieve their promise.
Then Andulvar and Prothvar discover an anomaly among the cildru dyathe, and Char reveals Jaenelle to Saetan. In turn, he reveals her arrival to Cassandra. Witch who staged her own death to become a Guardian.
Saetan is determined to teach Janelle. To love her. To bind her with love, patience. Directly opposite what Cassandra wishes. Imprisonment. Physical binding. Punishment.
Janelle’s family believes her to be sick, unable to tell the difference between reality and fantasy. An excuse to send her to Briarwood.
No one group or leader trusts another and it’s another delicate dance. This one of worry and concern versus hungry power. Those who want to protect and train Jaenelle against those who want to destroy her.
Few remember the Blood Law: that the Warlord Princes’ first duty is to protect.
…where twelve-year-old Jaenelle Benedict lives. She is Witch for whom a few have watched, waited, their hope for the future. Yet, because of her power, she is considered strange, eccentric, puzzling by her own family and treated horribly. She holds all the colors of the Jewels. And thirteen uncut Black. Birthright Black. A gift from Lorn.
Philip Alexander, a Gray-Jeweled Prince and half-brother to Robert Benedict, is tied to Kartane. He is also the escort/consort to Alexandra Angelline, the Queen of Chaillot, an Opal. Robert “Uncle Bobby” Benedict, a Yellow, is married to Alexandra’s daughter Leland who wears the Rose. Wilhelmina is Jaenelle’s 14-year-old sister and also has more power than is believed; she wears the Purple Dusk. Most of the servants in the house, besides Wilhelmina, are Jaenelle’s only supporters: Cook; Guinness the stable master; and, Andrew the only groom who can ride Dark Dancer, a.k.a., Demon. Graff is their vicious, half-capable governess only good for bruising a girl’s delicate ego.
Tersa is, in her own words, “the Weaver, the Liar, the Fool” and a Black Widow. She has lived a very long time, but most of that life has been a series of betrayals.
The High Lord of Hell is…
…Saetan Daemon SaDiablo, a Black-Jeweled Warlord Prince, a made Black Widow, and father to Daemon and Lucivar — think of him as Satan — who still rules in Kaeleer. “He has been the Seducer, the Executioner, the High Priest of the Hourglass, the Prince of the Darkness, Consort to Cassandra”. Mephis, a Gray-Jeweled Warlord Prince who now rules Dhemlan Terreille, and Peyton were sons he was allowed to keep; now they are demon-dead. Andulvar Yaslana was an Ebon-gray Eyrien Warlord Prince of Askavi; he is now demon-dead and serves his friend Saetan, Prothvar is his grandson, a Red-Jeweled Eyrien Warlord. Marjong is the Executioner.
Daemon Sadi, a.k.a., Sadist, a.k.a., Hyall’s Whore, a.k.a., Bastard, is a Warlord Prince and a Black Widow who has lived for 1,700 years, believing that he is a bastard growing up in Dorothea’s twisted, perverted court in Hayll, used as a pleasure slave. Lucivar “Yasi” Yaslana, a.k.a., Prick, is an Eyrien half-breed with wings, a Warlord Prince wearing Ebon-gray Jewels who is also used as a pleasure slave. He is currently owned by Zuultah, the Queen of Pruul.
Cassandra is “the Black-Jeweled, Black Widow Queen, the last Witch to walk the Realms”. Hekatah is a Black Widow Priestess. Prythian is Askavi’s High Priestess. Lady Cornelia, a pet queen of Dorothea’s, learns not to torture Daemon even as she serves as an abject lesson to others. Geoffrey is the Keep’s historian and librarian. The last of his race. A race “gone to dust so long ago that no one remembered who they were. Ancient when Saetan first came to the Keep as Cassandra’s Consort”. Draca is the Keep’s Seneschal, a caretaker and overseer of Ebon Askavi even longer than Geoffrey.
SaDiablo Hall is…
…in Dhemlan Kaeleer, the shadow sister land to Dhemlan Terreille where Mephis now rules.
Dorothea SaDiablo, High Priestess of Hayll, has been killing off any witches who might have the strength to challenge her, and it is having its effect on the strength of her territory’s bloodlines. Hepsabah is Dorothea’s cousin; Daemon’s supposed mother. This still does not hold Hepsabah from taking him to her bed. Kartane SaDiablo is a son of Dorothea. He escaped her training for a few years. Now, he is almost as broken as any woman.
Greer is the trusted servant of Dorothea and a Briarwood visitor. Helene is housekeeper. Manny and Jo were servants in the SaDiablo court who raised Daemon and loved him as if he were their own child.
The cildru dyathe are…
…demon-dead children, Blood children who were murdered. Char is their 12-year-old leader, who gathered in the children of the Realms and created a refuge for them one thousand years ago.
…essentially a high-class traveling whore and assassin with a Birthright uncut Green and the more mature Gray which she hides from her clientele. She was rescued from what would have been a short life as an alleyway whore and trained in both her careers by Daemon over 350 years ago. Deje runs the Red Moon house in Beldon Mor where Surreal stays and works when she’s in the area.
…witches who have died at the hands of a man; Titian, Surreal’s mother, broken on Kartane SaDiablo’s spear (whom Surreal thought was murdered when Surreal was twelve) now leads the Harpies and is concerned about Jaenelle.
…an asylum where girls of the Blood are sent to be “cured”, but actually a house where “uncles” can entertain themselves sexually with these children. One of many houses established by Kartane. Dr. Carvay is its head.
“Lorn is the last Prince of the Dragons, the founding race who had created the Blood.”
The Blood-Jeweled are…
…the ruling elite with women apprenticing as witches and becoming rulers while they treat the men as chattel, serving the women. There is a formal system in place by which women make use of pleasure slaves. When you think about it, it’s rather how men have treated women through the centuries!
Each Blood-Jeweled person is born with the power of a particular color of Jewel; when they reach puberty, they undergo an ordeal by which they achieve another color/power. I think the Warlord’s Spear is the penis, and it seems to be part of a ritual on Virgin Night which determines if a witch is left whole to practice her magic or if she becomes a broken person unable to access it. Black is the ultimate, most powerful color, although there are varying strengths within any one color.
The hierarchy is…
…the Territory Queen at the top, voted in “because she was strongest and best”, then the Province Queens, and below them were the District Queens. Once the Blooded males served the Queen who was right for them, serving freely. Dorothea’s purging has twisted this. She now expects any male to surrender to her.
The Twisted Kingdom is a world of madness. The Realms are a kingdom of the demon-dead, “the Blood who were still too strong to return to the Darkness even after their bodies died”. It mirrors the lands of the living. Sanctuary. Dark Altars are Gates linking the Realms of Terreille (living), Kaeleer (demon-dead), and Hell.
Witches of the Hourglass covens specialize in poisons and dark Craft, visions, dreams. Landens are non-blood people of each race. Black Widows can be born (natural) or made and are male or female. Guardians are the living dead, “a half-life that allows one to extend a lifetime into years beyond imagining”. The Ring of Obedience is used on the pleasure slaves who serve the Queens to pulse pain through their bodies to enforce their obedience.
This is my own interpretation trying to make sense of their world. I could quite easily be wrong… Hopefully, further reading will clarify!
The Cover and Title
The cover has a thin, brown marbled border encircling the front cover with what appears to be wind and flames twisting around a twelve-year-old Jaenelle, her fair, wavy hair in a swirl, holding up a book of light.
The title understates the primary protagonist in calling her a Daughter of Blood.