Written by: Anne Bishop
Series: The Black Jewels
Sequence in Series: 1
Audiobook Narrated by: John Sharian
Publisher: Rock NAL Penguin
Release Date: April 6, 2010
Length: 16 hrs and 52 minutes
Genre: Dark Fantasy
The Dark Kingdom is preparing itself for the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy–the arrival of a new Queen, a Witch who will wield more power than even the High Lord of Hell himself. But this new ruler is young, and very susceptible to influence and corruption; whoever controls her controls the Darkness. And now, three sworn enemies begin a ruthless game of politics and intrigue, magic and betrayal, and the destiny of an entire world is at stake.
Anne Bishop’s book one of the Black Jewels Series: Daughter of the Blood is, honestly, a bad book. And when I say bad I mean poorly written. It was ridiculous to listen to on audiotape. The characters are all shades of tall, dark, dangerous, and mysterious, except for the heroine who was young, bright, dangerous, and mysterious. Everyone is either ancient but still young looking or young but old beyond their years. Characterization quirks were overused – I never need to hear about steepled fingers again.
The worldbuilding was vague. There are multiple realms that are loosely connected in different ways, some of which are apparently dangerous to travel if done incorrectly. How the realms worked or what really made them distinct was not well explained, you just kind of get that they exist apart from each other but characters are still able to travel between them. You get the feeling that all the realms are in a kind of dystopia, although it’s hinted some haven’t yet succumbed to the evil ruler and are now isolationists. The dystopia is more of the kind where those who are fit rulers are not in charge. Rulers are supposed to be the most powerful and act as care takers of the people and the realms in an almost feudal style hierarchy balanced between the sexes. In the dystopia the person in charge is not the most powerful – killing off or breaking anyone who might grow up to oppose them – and does not respect the role as care taker. Therefore things are bad. Other than we see that there is an enslavement of some of the most powerful males, the book doesn’t explain why this is awful to the world at large.
The magic system looks like it wants to be a hard magic system but really functions more like a soft magic system. There are jewels that are given to characters at important coming of age junctures that will ultimately define how important they are in the social hierarchy and how powerful they are magically. Because reasons. The jewels aren’t necessarily the source of power though because often enough characters do not rely on their jewels to affect the world around them. There’s a mix of using personal magic, the jewels’ magic, and rituals or rites to make things happen. Whether or not they succeed in doing what they’re trying to do seems to rely more on the convenience of the authors’ plot than in any systemic way the magic is supposed to function.
My final opinion is that this is not a well written book in the least. I still got through the entire audiobook – kudos to John Sharian, the voice actor. The Sharian managed to make silky, smoldering voices even with the most ridiculous lines. The voice actor was the only redeeming quality of this particular read. However, if you’re not overly picky and you like stories about beautiful, dark, and tormented people with lots of impotent power going around with heaving bosoms and manly grace – this is your book.