Shalador’s Lady: Did Not Finish

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsepic fantasy book reviews Anne Bishop The Black Jewels Shalador's LadyShalador’s Lady by Anne Bishop

Remember how, during my review (above) of The Shadow Queen by Anne Bishop I said that if you haven’t read any of the series before now, you should just skip the review? Well, allow me to reiterate that sentiment for Shalador’s Lady. Because trust me, you will have no clue what’s going on here. THE BLACK JEWELS SERIES can usually be summed up much like anime: it’s complicated.

In The Shadow Queen we met Cassidy, a plain-faced Rose-Jeweled Queen who had recently lost her court to a younger, prettier model. We also met Theran Grayhaven, a Warlord Prince of Dena Nehele and descendant of Jared and Lia from The Invisible Ring. Desperate for help in rebuilding his territory, which was left shattered in the wake of the witch storm and the landen rebellion following it, Theran asks Daemon Sadi — once a friend of Jared’s — for a Queen from Kaeleer, one who might be able to help Dena Nehele regain its heart.

To Theran’s disappointment he gets Cassidy. But despite her plain face and light jewel, Cassidy quickly wins the hearts of Dena Nehele’s Blood — including that of Gray, a Warlord Prince whose mind was damaged beneath the cruel torture of the corrupt Queens. Now Cassidy is working to rebuild Dena Nehele, with Theran a living, breathing obstacle at every turn. When Cassidy’s past shows up to haunt her — literally — she flees to the Shalador reserves, where she and her court begin to heal the land far more effectively. But will the past be too much for Cassidy — and her court — to overcome?

Okay, now that I’ve successfully scared off anyone who thought I was kidding above… Look, I didn’t put Shalador’s Lady down because I hated it. On the contrary, I was enjoying it a fair bit overall. Yeah, it’s true that Anne Bishop hasn’t quite managed to recapture the dark magic that the original BLACK JEWELS books spun so well. That doesn’t make Shalador’s Lady bad.

It is a bit Harvest Moon: Black Jewels edition, which means it deals in some fairly mundane things. I don’t necessarily mind this — I mean, I like Harvest Moon. It’s addicting on a level that doesn’t make sense, and so are these books, often enough. As long as the mundane manages to still be entertaining, I’m good. And parts of Shalador’s Lady are very entertaining. Bishop is one of those rare few authors who realizes the importance of laughter and fun in her books.

And, you know, the Scelties. Oh lord, the Scelties. I love them. I know I probably shouldn’t. I should probably find them annoying and precocious, because they are. But that’s part of what makes them so perfect. They are extremely intelligent sheepdogs with the ability to communicate, because they’re Blood. And if sheepdogs could communicate, this is exactly how I’d imagine them being. They’re just so great… even if they are Deus Ex Machina Plot Devices From Hell. …or should that be Dog Ex Machina?

But… reading this Shalador’s Lady, I spent a lot of time in this major tug of war with myself. Part of me likes revisiting the old characters. Part of me is just so sick of it all. I’m sick of Daemon being Saetan’s mirror, of Lucivar’s arrogant, lazy smile (but not Lucivar!), of Daemon being beautiful rather than handsome, of Jaenelle being the living myth, dreams made flesh, blah blah, of Jaenelle’s voice being sepulchral, full of caverns and lightning and midnight. I’m sick of Saetan calling in his half-moon glasses, sick of tempers flaring whenever someone bats an eyelash the wrong way, of people saying things “too softly” (though she made it a whole 63 pages this time before that showed up).

I’m especially tired of all the episodes of As Kaeleer Turns. Just how many emotional breakdowns and other issues do we need to have, just so it can be explained again that Warlord Princes are predators, that they… ugh, I can’t even keep my thoughts straight here. It’s just one big tangle of how sick and tired I am of Anne Bishop telling me through her characters’ dialogs how emotionally scarred they are and how the Blood operate and so on, etc. etc. So much extra time is spent on this stuff rather than on the characters and plot that are supposed to be central to the book.

Sadly, I don’t like or care about these new characters all that much. I need more time with them than I’m given, if I’m going to care about them. So when I hit page 350 and realized I still had another 100+ pages to go, I also realized that I was really tired of reading Shalador’s Lady. I felt so worn out and I didn’t want to continue. So I stopped.

Some fans will undoubtedly love Shalador’s Lady. If you loved The Shadow Queen, you’ll probably love this one too. But a guilty pleasure needs to still be a pleasure. This isn’t pleasurable for me anymore. Unless something changes drastically with Bishop’s next book, I’m afraid I’m going to have to bow out.

The Black Jewels — (1998–2009) The invisible Ring is a prequel. Publisher: Seven hundred years ago, a Black Widow witch saw an ancient prophecy come to life in her web of dreams and visions. Now the Dark Kingdom readies itself for the arrival of its Queen, a Witch who will wield more power than even the High Lord of Hell himself. But she is still young, still open to influence — and corruption. Whoever controls the Queen controls the darkness. Three men — sworn enemies — know this. And they know the power that hides behind the blue eyes of an innocent young girl. And so begins a ruthless game of politics and intrigue, magic and betrayal, where the weapons are hate and love — and the prize could be terrible beyond imagining…

The first three are the original Black Jewels trilogy

The Black Jewels, Daughter of the Blood, Heir to the Shadows, Queen of the Darkness, The Invisible Ring, Dreams Made Flesh, Tangled WebsThe Black Jewels, Daughter of the Blood, Heir to the Shadows, Queen of the Darkness, The Invisible Ring, Dreams Made Flesh, Tangled WebsThe Black Jewels, Daughter of the Blood, Heir to the Shadows, Queen of the Darkness, The Invisible Ring, Dreams Made Flesh, Tangled WebsThe Black Jewels, Daughter of the Blood, Heir to the Shadows, Queen of the Darkness, The Invisible Ring, Dreams Made Flesh, Tangled WebsThe Black Jewels, Daughter of the Blood, Heir to the Shadows, Queen of the Darkness, The Invisible Ring, Dreams Made Flesh, Tangled WebsThe Black Jewels, Daughter of the Blood, Heir to the Shadows, Queen of the Darkness, The Invisible Ring, Dreams Made Flesh, Tangled WebsAnne Bishop Black Jewels 6 7 The Shadow Queen 9. Shalador's LadyAnne Bishop Black Jewels 8. Shalador's Lady 9. Twilight's DawnAnne Bishop Black Jewels 8. Shalador's Lady 9. Twilight's Dawn


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BETH JOHNSON, one of our guest reviewers, discovered fantasy books at age nine, when a love of horses spurred her to pick up Bruce Coville’s Into the Land of the Unicorns. Beth lives in Sweden with her husband. She writes short stories and has been working on a novel.

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