Book: Daughter of the Blood
Author: Anne Bishop
Series: Black Jewels Trilogy, Book 1
Grade: Highly Recommended
Daughter of the Blood had been recommended to me countless times before I actually bought it. And it stayed in my TBR pile long after that. After recently reading many lackluster books, I decided to give it a go. And now, I'm both kicking myself for not reading it sooner, and happy to have read this little gem of a book.
Daughter of the Blood takes place in a world of the Blood. In this world females are Witches and males are Warlords. The level of their power is determined by what level jewel they wear. Birthright jewels are jewels that children are gifted with. The color of each jewel signifies the amount of power that child possesses. The weaker the power the lighter the jewel. As the child gets older they are able to get darker color jewels as a testament to their growing power and strength. The most powerful jewel is the black. Not many are gifted with this color jewel and it is unheard of to have it as a birthright.
The females reign supreme in the Blood world. They are the rulers of the living, using their power, often times, cruelly. Most Warlords are nothing more than servants to the witches. Many of them forced into sex slavery, and dominated with pain inflicted through The Ring of Obedience. The Ring, worn around a males member, is controlled by the witch that the warlord serves. This is how the the much stronger, darker jeweled males are kept in line.
In the Realm of Terrielle lives the Warlord Daemon SaDiablo or Sadi. Daemon wears the black jewel making him a threat to the witches, thus he is Ringed and in slavery to a witch. For centuries he has been forced to service the Queen and her witch minions and has suffered pain at her hands. Years of this abuse has left Daemon cold and sadistic. He is left feeling that there is nothing worth living for until a premonition is spoken that gives Daemon reason to hope. A new witch will be born and with her, a change will come. Daemon bides his time, waiting for the arrival of Witch; the only Queen that he will willingly serve.
In the Land of Pruul, Daemon's half-brother brother, Lucivar, is also in slavery. Though his is a more brutal one than Daemon has known. Lucivar endures continual cruelty through the Ring. A hopeless life is what he lives until a child named Janelle appears out of nowhere. After talking with her a little Lucivar knows that this Janelle is the premonition come to life, the future Queen that will fix all that is wrong with the Realms. His instinct is to protect her so he sends her away, vowing to make sure that his witch Queen never finds out about Janelle.
Also in this world is Hell, the Dark Realm of the demon-dead. The demon-dead are beings that have died but still exist in Hell. The ruler of Hell is Saetan, the High Lord. At the start of the book Saetan is living a monotonous life in his old age, nothing surprises him, nothing encourages him, he just is. That is until a mysterious young girl arrives in Hell. A living girl who is able to walk amongst the dead and travel between the realms. Janelle is this girl. On the surface Janelle is nothing more than an innocent child with the strange ability to travel into the world of the demon-dead. Saetan, curious about the living girl that has shown up in his realm, questions Janelle and in her unknowing innocence, she reveals to him that she wears the black, and not just one black but many. Saetan realizes that Janelle is Witch and eagerly teaches Janelle how to fine-tune her power. He mentors her, and in turn she surprises him at every turn with how much she already knows. And just how powerful she is.
Saetan knows that the witches in power, if they knew about Janelle, would want to use her impressionable mind for their own gain by either turning her as evil as they are or worse, killing her. He vows to protect Janelle, not knowing that both his estranged sons, Daemon and Lucivar have vowed the same. But what none of them realize is that Janelle's life is not only in peril due to the threat of the witches. There is another evil at work, and it is closer to Janelle than any of them suspect.
I'm not even sure that I have done this book justice in my review. There is so much to this story that makes it such a wonderful read, I can't even begin to explain it. What I think I loved the most was how the darkness and lightness was given equal footing. A lot of the light-hearted moments are those between Saetan and Janelle. She is an unknowing entertainment to him, and thus, to the reader. Her naivety is endearing. And Saetan's responses to it are often times a welcome light in a dark story.
"Her eyes widened as the stone wall behind the Alter turned to mist. "Ooohh," she whispered in a voice as close to awe as he's ever head from her. "Why is it doing that?"
"It's a Gate," Saetan replied, puzzled.
He pushed the words out. "A Gate between the Realms."
His mind stumbled. Since she'd traveled between the Realms for years now, he'd always assumed she knew how to open the Gates. If she didn't even know there were Gates, how in the name of Hell had she been getting into Kaeleer and Hell all this time?
He couldn't ask. He wouldn't ask. If he asked, she'd tell him and then he'd have to strangle her.
Daemon and Janelle also had a touching relationship. It was nice seeing some of the darkness that plagued Daemon lifted when they spent time together. I commend how Bishop dealt with Daemon's feelings for Janelle. See, Daemon feels that he is the one who will serve as Janelle's Consort when the time comes for her to form a Court. He feels an intense calling to her, but she is only a child of twelve. While this could have been over the line creepy if not told right, it was written in a way that never came across that way.
Anne Bishop has woven a wonderful story with great characters, that are so real they come to life within the pages. Each one with their own story, which never takes away from the other characters. In Daughter of the Blood we see a lot of Daemon and Saetan. We get glimpses of Lucivar, enough to introduce us to his character and promise more to come. There are also supporting characters that see page time and enhance the story. In the end, all of these story threads come together and make for a dark and twisted climax.
Since this is part of a trilogy, I will wait and grade the story as a whole. But I will say that if you are a fan of dark fantasy, then Daughter of the Blood is a must read. Highly Recommended.