As with ‘Daughter of the Blood’ I read this book for the first time a couple of years ago, and so I’m not really reviewing it based on first impressions. I’ve re-read it once, and did enjoy it a second time though, but that was a while ago as well. In this review I am assuming that anyone who reads this has read ‘Daughter of the Blood’.
‘Heir to the Shadows’ is the second book in the Black Jewels series – and at the time it was written it was intended as the second book in a trilogy. It continues on the story from ‘Daughter of the Blood’ in the aftermath of Jaenelle’s rape and Daemon’s slip into the Twisted Kingdom. It begins by establishing that Jaenelle has been in a coma for some time, and Daemon’s mental state is fully revealed early on. In a way the book can be separated into two parts. The first part of the book deals with the direct aftermath, and also how Saetan takes on the role he has waited thousands of years for – being Witch’s father. The second part deals with Lucivar and his plight as a prisoner sentenced to death by decline. I think this book is refreshing in the sense that Lucivar and Saetan really shine here – whereas ‘Daughter of the Blood’ spent a lot of time with Daemon.
‘Heir to the Shadows’ is an enjoyable read, but to me, it lacks the action of the first book. It is more of a in-between book, where important things happen, but mostly it operates as a general fleshing out of the cast and characters. We meet a lot of new people here, and find out a lot more about the Realms. Characters like Jaenelle benefit from the respite the book provides – by the end of the novel we know a lot more about her, and why she makes the decisions she does. This contrasts with the first novel, because her actions there were not as well defined, or indeed explained.
Sometimes it seems to go too fast – for instance the cast expands rapidly, and at one point it happens within the space of a paragraph. Mostly the newbies are just names, and are never seen again or they get mentioned briefly and the reader is expected to know them. If you’ve ever read ‘Queen of the Damned’ by Anne Rice that is the kind of thing that happens here. Some of the names amount to cameos in ‘Heir’ and elsewhere. In terms of the world building this book is a step forward – we find out about the Blood’s origins, as well as the extent to which the Blood exists and works with other types of people – basically, and this is a mini-spoiler, we meet the Kindred.
The humour increases in this book, and in a way it is more lighthearted that either ‘Daughter of the Blood’ or ‘Queen of the Darkness’. ‘Heir to the Shadows’ is more fun and more about new beginnings and family than either of the other two. It lacks some of the big drama, but there are dramatic moments. There are moments when you feel nervous for the characters, and when you feel their anger and sadness too. There are a few more time skips in this novel. None of them are as drastic as the one in the first novel, but still it feels sometimes like you are reading a detailed summary. That isn’t a criticism per say, because I think one of the selling points of the Black Jewels books is that the reader is always left wanting more.
In conclusion, I do recommend ‘Heir to the Shadows’ to people who have read and enjoyed the first instalment of the Black Jewels books. My only real problem with the text is that it seems too short – a lot of the later books (outside the trilogy) really refer to stuff that happen around the time of this book, but aren’t revealed until much later. ‘Heir to the Shadows’ is a bit like an interlude and is more about story building than either of the other two books in the initial trilogy. I think that potential readers should be aware of ‘Dreams Made Flesh’ and perhaps have a copy handy, but don’t read the very last story until after you finish the trilogy. Furthermore, the short story Zuulaman really explains why Saetan let Daemon and Lucivar get taken away from him. He actually refers to that story in the middle of ‘Heir to the Shadows’ – but it is a vague mention which I feel should have been explained here rather than later on.