Spoiler Review: ‘Twilight’s Dawn’ by Anne Bishop

Before I start I just have to say that this is an ironic post.  I knew about blogs, but I only started really getting into them when I googled for early reviews of this book.  So in a way this is the book that started this blog. 
After reading the book, I do think ‘Twilight’s Dawn’ is good. It had a lot of guts in it. Anne Bishop was really brave in my opinion to go where her characters took her. I do not think that this is a series breaker. I actually think that ‘Twilight’s Dawn’ hearkens back to what the story was always supposed to be about – the price of happiness. 
I think that, from reading a lot of reviews on ‘Twilight’s Dawn’, most people who talk about this book need to use spoilers.  I’m going to do the same, particularly with ‘The High Lord’s Daughter’.  I don’t think you can review that story without spoilers.  I also will be a bit different in this review from my other, usual reviews, because I, like a lot of fans read the spoilers before publication.  Many fans refuse to read Twilight’s Dawn or even acknowledge it.  I want to explain my opinions of the book before and after I read it.  This could be a long post (in fairness most of mine are).  You have been warned. 

What did I think of the book before reading it?  Honestly, when I first came upon the review over on Dear Author I was shocked.  I suppose you could say horrified.   I just couldn’t believe what I was reading, about Jaenelle being dead, more importantly Saetan being dead, and Daemon and Surreal being married and having a kid.  I felt like I was reading a fan fiction that I would have dismissed as absurd.  I agreed wholeheartedly with the comments, on that site and others that ‘Twilight’s Dawn’ would be a series breaker, and resolved that I wouldn’t get it in hardback for that reason.   I love Surreal – seriously she is one of my favourite characters, and just couldn’t believe that she would want to be second best, and compared to Jaenelle for the rest of her life. 
To clarify, I am not a romance reader.  I came to the books as a fantasy reader, as well as someone who loves books that make you think such as the classics.  The Black Jewels series was a bit of dark horse for me – but I liked the fact that it was a ‘happy ending’ yet gritty type of story.  I had noticed that Surreal had a thing for Daemon though, and so, after a couple of days… or weeks more like… I wasn’t as shocked.  I was more shocked that Anne Bishop had gone there with that storyline. 
I did want to read the book though, because I wanted to know about the other characters’ conclusions as well.  Jaenelle and Daemon are not my favourite couple – Lucivar and Marian are.  A lot of fans noted that ‘Shades of Honour’ is a really good story.  So when I got my kindle a few weeks ago I purchased ‘Twilight’s Dawn’ on it. 
I am very glad that I did. 
What do I think of the book now? 
‘Winsol Gifts’ was an okay story/novella.   I think that it highlighted something that had been lacking from most of the other books of the series – the loss of family that happened during the purge.  Andulvar, Prothvar and Mephis weren’t really mentioned after the third book, and so I found it bittersweet to read about how the characters loved and missed them, especially Saetan and Jaenelle. I always felt that the characters mentioned were arbitrary – they kind of shuffled in together a lot throughout the trilogy so it is touching to see them in this way.  Other than that, to me this was not much of a story.  Like many I would compare it to a bit of fan fiction – this is just the characters on a day off. 
‘Shades of Honour ‘ was my favourite part of the collection.  It was the longest, and it contained a lot of the early spirit of the Black Jewels books.  ‘Shades of Honour’ brings the focus back to the eyrie and to the Yaslanas.  It also deals with Surreal’s mental state, and as the premise states – Falonar’s betrayal.  The story is strong and builds up to its climax in a believable way.  I loved it when Surreal gave Falonar a piece of her mind and it was great to read about how Lucivar and the eyrians worked together.  The battleground scene was awesome too.  The ending?  I thought it was a bit too typical of the later Black Jewels books – Daemon overstepped the line.  I haven’t read the Shadow Queen or Shalador’s Lady yet, but I know that Daemon has a habit of taking over.  Even when the story is about Lucivar.  I wish that ‘Shades of Honour’ was a book on its own though – I thought it was good enough to warrant that. 
‘Family’ was kind of good.  The beginning was very exciting and the premise morbid enough to separate it from ‘Winsol Gifts’.  However, I felt that it was too short and kind of cannibalised itself by the end.  I found myself doubting the actual climax to this story but I thought the story was good in its conclusions – what happens to No Face had my mouth open.  One of the sickest moments since ‘Daughter of the Blood’ definitely.  The title also hints at the subtext of the story – family is important here.  An important conclusion is also made for Saetan, after his sacrifice in ‘Queen of the Darkness’. 
‘The High Lord’s Daughter’ was not as hard to read as many reviews had suggested.  So much is happening that you have to wonder why this isn’t its own book.  It is very choppy and, since we the readers haven’t really been told much about the early development process of the long-lived races, I found it hard to picture the children with all the jumps.   I thought that the romance element was… very stressed.  It felt like all the characters were trying to justify it, including Daemon and Surreal.  Together they make sense, but they don’t work together the way Marion and Lucivar do.  Even Lucivar and Marion mention this fact right after the baby is born.  Certain things I felt would have been smoothed out if the story was longer – such as Jaenelle 2.0’s irritating character.  Other things, such as Surreal’s development seemed to quickly dissolve.  I found that disappointing – she went from self-appointed bitch to worrying wife after the birth, and I just wanted it to be over once that creeped in.
I am not one of those people who scorn those that wanted the Happily Ever After. I’ve read countless reviews and other things where people rip into those readers and I don’t think that that is fair. Ideally I would have liked to see Surreal get her one true love, like all the other characters got. I don’t care much about Daemon’s romantic storyline, because he already got that. I’ve already concluded on the book in my second paragraph but as someone who has enjoyed most of the other books in the series, I am glad I read this one. It was nice to read a book that was not as fluffy and domestic as the ones that came after the trilogy. There is a sense of endings and new beginnings in ‘Twilight’s Dawn’ and in a way I find that akin to ‘Queen of the Darkness’ in more ways than one.  Hopefully, like in that case, this isn’t the last time we see these characters.   

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