Tag Archives: Anne Bishop

Book Review: The Pillars of the World (Tir Alainn #1) by Anne Bishop

Hi

Goodreads synopsis:

 The youngest in a long line of witches, Ari senses things are changing for the worse. For generations, her kin have tended the Old Places, keeping the land safe and fertile. Now, she finds herself torn between the world of mortals and the world of Fae, who ignore what occurs in the mortal world, for the roads between the two lands are vanishing into thin air.

I began ‘The Pillars of the World’ with an open mind because many fans of the Black Jewels series online pointed out that Tir Alainn wasn’t as good and Tir Alainn fans claim that you have to be open to it.  I didn’t really know what to expect and I did enjoy the book, especially at first.  I found it a light read but as time wore on, my views on it changed a bit.  I’m going to start with what I liked about it first though.

I adored Ari.  I thought that she was a great lead character and she was well-developed. I really did feel for her, alone in her cottage.  The big bad of the series – Adolfo – was given a point of view early on which made him much more menacing than any other villain I had read by Bishop.  Seriously, he was a great villain and he was reasonably well-developed too so the reader knows why he is the way he is.  Many of his scenes and thought processes are disturbing to read and are graphic, so I wouldn’t recommend this to the lighthearted.  Another point of view that I thought was brilliant in this book was Morag.  She is Death’s Mistress and can kill people at will.  She became my favourite character of the entire series.

Now onto the bad.  The love triangle was predictable, and became more and more predictable as the book went on.  I also didn’t like what I call the petty evilness of certain characters in this book (and the rest of the series for that matter) – I would have liked to have seen some character growth, but this isn’t a spoiler review so I’m not going to name names.

Despite the predictable resolution to the love triangle, the ending of the book is actually quite good.  I did kind of predict that it would happen, but like what happens to Janelle at the end of Daughter of the Blood in the Black Jewels Series, the end is better because you see it coming.  You spend most of the book dreading it.  The end provides some great set up for the next book in the series and a secret is revealed that makes the treatment of witches by society and the fae even more awful.

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30 Day Book Challenge: Day Eleven – Book from your favourite author

Hi

I don’t believe in favourites.  I don’t have a favourite band or recording artist.  My first couple of posts in this challenge weren’t hard to write-up per se but I did have to consider it.  I’m just not a favourites type of person.  I like what I like, depending on my mood.  I don’t have a list set in stone.

Writers are a hard thing to judge, because you might like one book or series by one, and then hate everything else that they do.  Likewise, how do you judge an author?  Do you take in the overall story, the characters or do you look at the nuts and blots of the text – the way they actually write things.  Should I judge the classics and contemporary books separately?

Anne Rice is probably the best technical writer that I’ve ever read.  Like I said in my last post, the way she writes is amazing.  She just has a magic to her prose that I’ve not encountered before or since in a modern book.

George R. R. Martin writes strong prose, if a bit too much of it, but I love ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ because of the way he incorporates reality into his fantastical story.  I love the way that the books are hard to read because of all the pain and death the characters suffer through.

Anne Bishop is not very strong with prose.  She tends to repeat phrases again and again.  However, with the ‘Black Jewels’ she created really lovable characters.  Complex characters like Daemon Sadi are very rare and are compelling to read.

Trudi Canavan is an interesting writer.  In her first trilogy ‘The Black Magician Trilogy’ her writing style is pretty bad.  The first book said trilogy ‘The Magicians’ Guild’ suffers from too little plot.  It does not do justice to the rest of the series.  Both ‘The Novice’ and ‘The High Lord’ are emotional reads.  The plotting is excellent.  You don’t know who is good and who is bad.  ‘The Magician’s Apprentice’ (prequel to the BMT) has better writing, and a complex plot.

In terms of classics I think Gaston Leroux’s ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ is a great read.  The pace, plot and tone are great.  I read the translation though so who knows?

‘The Moonstone’ by Wilkie Collins has a great plot too.  I may be wrong but it was one of the first detective type novels and it is very well written.

Naturally, I think Emily Bronte is great – I listed ‘Wuthering Heights’ as one of my favourite books.  The prose creates the atmosphere that I love.

I have read several plays by Shakespeare.  All of them were good.  He is probably the greatest writer of all time – but academics argue if he even wrote down what we read today.  I love plays like ‘Macbeth’ and ‘The Merchant of Venice’ because even though they are hard to read they have these great conflicts.  As a reader you feel conflicted when you read about Shylock being kicked but wanting a pound of flesh, or as you watch Macbeth spiral from a good man into an awful human being.

I guess the answer for today is not that I have no favourite authors, but that I have too many, and in no particular order.

30 Day Book Challenge – Day One: Favourite Book

Hi

Picking out my favourite book is a really tough one.  I pretty much love or at least like all the books I read.  I can’t possibly name just one book, so I’m not going to.  Here’s my small list of the books that are my favourites:

1. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

I love, love, love Wuthering Heights.  I first read it years ago when I was fourteen and I just fell in love with the atmosphere of the novel.  It is like a storm or a bonfire on a winter’s night – otherworldly and uncontrollable.  The characters are fascinating, and even though Heatcliff and Catherine (the first) are possibly the most unlikable mains in the history of literature, you can’t help but feel their romance.

2.  Wild Swans by Juan Chang

 

Wild Swans blew my mind when I read it.  It highlights so much about China, both good and bad.  For me, it turned a place I knew very little about into something that I could begin to understand.  This is a heartfelt memoir first and foremost, and it is through Juan Chang’s story of her grandmother, mother and herself that the reader learns about the recent history of China.  Lots of books are good, but fade with time for me.  Wild Swans is the opposite – I can’t forget it.

3.  The Black Jewels Trilogy by Anne Bishop

If you were to look back at my older posts here you would see that this choice is inevitable.  I’ve already reviewed the trilogy, so I’m not going to really elaborate on why I love it.  I just do, despite the flaws.  I love that hope is a serious theme in the series along with animal and human abuse.  Satean, Daemon and Lucivar are three amazing characters, and the humour in the series, despite the serious tone is heartwarming.

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

Hi
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.   

Review: Queen of the Darkness by Anne Bishop

Following on from my review of ‘Heir to the Shadows’ I will go ahead and review ‘Queen of the Darkness’ as if the reader has read the first two novels in the series. 
Character growth is probably my favourite thing about ‘Queen of the Darkness’.  This is the book where all the characters come together and start to form a real family.  It is a joy to read about how the three main narrators – Saetan, Daemon and Lucivar – have changed from the first instalment ‘Daughter of the Blood’.  Lucivar especially has grown into a man in a way that he wasn’t before (spoiler) he is now married, has a son and has his own ruling responsibilities as well (end spoiler).  Jaenelle and Daemon also reunite (I don’t think that really needs to be forewarned as a spoiler) and it is really fun to read about their awkward yet cute early beginnings in their relationship.  The most touching and laugh-out-loud relationship in this book for me is Saetan and Daemon – they both begin to understand what being each others mirror truly means.  They are both supportive and wary of each other. 
It isn’t surprising that with all this character growth and family bonding that ‘Queen of the Darkness’ also contains a lot more risk factor.  The characters have a lot more to lose when the baddies start making some moves as they now not only have Jaenelle to protect they also have their new family.  I think that the level of sacrifice is high but it also makes the story swerve away from the cheesiness that sometimes it goes into.  Everything has a price after all, and that price is pretty extreme.  Daemon and Saetan are probably the ones who make the most personal sacrifices, but also do a whole lot of other characters, many of which are characters that have played a relevant role in the earlier books. 
 The baddies – Hekatah and Dorothea – are still pretty bad.  We don’t see the same shocking displays of evil that characterised ‘Daughter of the Blood’ but there are still hints of who they really are.  I’m pretty hard to please when it comes to villains though – the only series that really satisfies me in these terms is ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’.  Overall though, I think ‘Queen of the Darkness’ has its share of dark and disturbing moments – what certain characters have to do to play the nasty game highlights the standard of evil in the series, and as always some of the things included are pretty graphic. 
The climax of the trilogy  for me was okay.  I wasn’t overly sold on it despite the fact that ‘Queen of the Darkness’ is a strong book.  I think that the way the conflict was resolved was a little out of nowhere – obviously the reader wasn’t supposed to know what is about to happen, but even the way the main characters (the ones who set it up) come up with it is a bit off in my opinion.  I still think that it was a decent, and logical solution, I just also thought that it smacked of a cop-out.  Just a little bit.  Also, it basically advertises ‘The Invisible Ring’ as an explanation of what the characters here do.  I know ‘The Invisible Ring’ came out after the trilogy, but still it feels a bit like a way of getting out of really fleshing out why Jaenelle does what she does – she just simply gets inspired by characters that haven’t made an appearance in the story thus far. 
 After the climax the story is still good.  We see the rebuilding of many things, and also see that the emotional toil of what went down is something that the characters will live with for the foreseeable future.  There are some heartbreaking moments, but also a couple of happy ones that many readers have been waiting for.  
‘Queen of the Darkness’ is a heartbreaking read in some respects but it is also heartwarming in others.  The entire trilogy, which can be bought in an omnibus version, is something that to me is special.  I bought the book on a whim, and I believe that I would have never have read it at all only I was doing the fifty book challenge that year.  I was very unsure of it, because it is the type of series that is both very unique but also very hard to get an impression of based on reviews or summaries.  I know that I found the book an easy read but also one with a very rich world and fascinating characters that I couldn’t help but root for.   I think that the best way to recommend the trilogy, or the rest of the series for that matter, is to say that the books are cult.  They do have bits that are a bit out there, but the characters and the world are always believable at their core, and the people who like these books tend to really like them perhaps because of this. 

Review: Heir to the Shadows by Anne Bishop

Hi
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.