Written in Red

While I enjoy any book by Anne Bishop, I haven’t been quite this excited about a series since her Black Jewels Universe stories came to an end (sob).

 While I enjoy any book by Anne Bishop, I haven’t been quite this excited about a series since her Black Jewels Universe stories came to an end (sob).

She has this amazing ability to create a world with characters that are unusual but so very appealing.  If I was explaining to someone what this series was like, I would say the Others are a bit like the Kindred in the Black Jewels but also, so much more.  Neither human nor animal, they are something… Other.  The Terra Indigene (Earth Natives) – Deadly, feral, guardians of the world of Namid. Humans live by their sufferance and largesse, and woe betide them if they trespass on land that does not belong to them.

Simon Wolfgarde is the leader of the Lakeside City Courtyard – a place of the Others to live, work, rest and play.  Human laws do not apply.  Trespass and you may be eaten, and they aren’t kidding.  Meg Corbyn is an enigma to the Others, obviously human, she doesn’t smell like them, but doesn’t smell like ‘prey’ either.  Appearing from nowhere half frozen, and running from something, she applies for the job as Human Liaison between the Courtyard and the human world.  And so begins a very confusing and enlightening time for the residents of Lakeside.

This book is just so full of charm, from Meg herself to the Others and their interactions with her, and with each other about her.  Often hilarious as they try to figure out what to do with this strange short human who is willing to interact with their kind and as she creeps into their hearts, they all crept into mine.

I suppose the closest thing to call the others is shapeshifters, vampires, elementals etc. but those labels do not do them justice.  The creation of the world and the Others place in it is brilliant and without having to use lengthy explanations, Bishop manages to give you a broad view of the way it works.  Humans are not the dominant species even though their nature is such that they don’t believe half of what they hear about the Others and that is always their first mistake.  And there are some horrible humans.  There are also some amazing ones but you come to think of them as part or extension of the courtyard.

There are so many characters to love here, Meg first and foremost.  She is just so loveable and her innocence could have been annoying but it’s not at all.  You just want to look after her.  Simon is a close second and his confusion over dealing with a human female that does not smell like prey is just priceless.  There are quite a few laugh out loud moments where that is concerned.  Tess and her ever changing hair is both scary and awesome.  Sam is just so adorable as a wolf puppy, your heart just goes out to him for everything he’s suffered.

The rest of the cast are numerous and each and every one has a personality that shines – not always in a good way, but in their experience of humans and their distrust, Meg is something entirely new.  Anne Bishop keeps it simple though and you can identify new characters quickly by their surname as to what type of Other they are.  Wolfgarde for wolves, Crowgarde for Crows etc.

The story is fascinating and even the simple details make for enjoyable reading.  Pace wise, it never moves slowly without good cause and makes perfect sense for the plot happening at the time.  When it speeds up though, it really gets going.

Whether the Others will match my fangirl love of the Black Jewels books it remains to be seen, but after one novel, it’s off to a fantastic start!

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Anne Bishop
  • Series: The Others (1)
  • Format: Kindle
  • Publisher: Roc
  • Genre: Urban Fantasy
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

Books I can’t wait for in 2011

There are so many books in already established series’ I am looking forwards to reading this year, not to mention new ones I have yet to discover.  Here is a selection that I really can’t wait to get my paws on :

Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance

January

A Hard Day’s Knight (Nightside) by Simon R. Green (Ace Books)
Kitty goes to War (Kitty Norville) by Carrie Vaughn (Gollancz)

March

River Marked (Mercy Thompson) by Patricia Briggs (Orbit)
Invincible (Chronicles of Nick 2) by Sherrilyn Kenyon (ATOM)
Lover Unleashed (Black Dagger Brotherhood) by J. R. Ward (Piatkus Books)

April

Ghost Story (Dresden Files 13) by Jim Butcher (Orbit)
Side Jobs: Stories from the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher (Orbit)
Born of Shadows (League 4) by Sherrilyn Kenyon (Piatkus Books)

June

Hunt the Moon (Cassie Palmer) by Karen Chance (Signet Books)
Deadline (Newsflesh Trilogy) by Mira Grant (Orbit)

July

Kitty’s Big Trouble (Kitty Norville) by Carrie Vaughn (Gollancz)

August

Pale Demon by (The Hollows) Kim Harrison (Harper Voyager)
Retribution (Dark-Hunter) by Sherrilyn Kenyon (Piatkus Books)
Downpour (Greywalker) by Kat Richardson (Piatkus Books)

October

Envy (Fallen Angels) by J. R. Ward (Piatkus Books)

Fantasy

March

Land of Painted Caves (Earth’s Children Book 6) by Jean M. Auel (Hodder & Stoughton)
Twilight’s Dawn (Black Jewels) by Anne Bishop (Roc)

April

Shadow Chaser (Chronicles of Siala) by Alexey Pehov (Simon & Schuster)

Chick Lit

February

To the Moon and Back by Jill Mansell (Headline)

March

Summer of Love by Katie Fforde (Century)
Kiss and Tell by Fiona Walker (Sphere)

May

Any Man of Mine by Rachel Gibson (Corgi)

Crime

January

You Belong to Me by Karen Rose (Headline)

May

Virals by Kathy Reichs (Arrow (Young))

Shalador’s Lady

In Dena Nehele, Theran Grayhaven continues to struggle as First Escort to Cassidy, the Rose Jewelled Queen.  Only able to see her shortcomings he clashes with the rest of the court, unable to see what they see or experience the bond that called them to serve in the first place.  When an unexpected and unwelcome visitor turns up at Grayhaven, Theran is startled to find he has that bond with her and believes he has found the Queen meant to rule, instead of Cassidy.  Cassidy is not happy and the rest of her first circle are outraged when they realise the history Cassidy and the feckless Kermilla have and instinctively move to protect their Queen.  Theran wanted a Queen from Kaeleer who could teach them protocol and the old ways of the Blood, before Dorotea’s taint crushed so much of Terreille.  He can’t accept that what he wants and what the territory needs are two different things.  If he can’t accept Cassidy and her ruling, everything he wanted for Dena Nehele would be lost, including the land itself.

I have nothing but love for any book or story set in the Black Jewels Universe.  Right from Daughter of the Blood, the first book in the series I was hooked on the characters and the the rich dark world that the three realms made up.  Yet another series I need to re-read and review as I go.  I can’t recommend them highly enough, seriously!  This review might be a little confusing if you’ve not read any of the books as the titles and terms are unique to Anne Bishop’s work.  Another reason to read them!

Shalador’s Lady follows straight on from The Shadow Queen and while sad, it wasn’t surprising that Theran couldn’t get his act together enough to realise that while Cassidy might not be the Queen he wanted, she was the Queen that Dena Nehele needed.  It was a pleasure to witness Cassidy’s continued growth into a strong Queen and prove her ability to rule, despite the light jewels she wears.  She is a great character and one who fits right in to the group of exceptional people I have come to love so much in these books.

Theran was just plain irritating but his disappointment with Cassidy and his lack of the bond that the other males had meant I could understand where he was coming from.  I still wanted to smack him a lot.

Gray on the other hand was a joy, seeing his continued emergence from the damaged and scared boy trapped in an adult’s body into the Warlord Prince he should have been.  Wow.  The other Males of Cassidy’s First Circle were also great, stepping up to the line when needed and understanding that without Cassidy and bringing back the old ways of the Blood, there would be no more Dena Nehele.

Finally comes those characters that I could read about forever.  Daemon, Jaenelle, Saetan and Lucivar  to name the top four.  Other beloved character make appearances and it was truly great to see them.  I have heard complaints that when it comes to stories in the Black Jewels Universe that aren’t directly about them, they still make appearances.  I honestly don’t see how they can’t considering who they are and their place in the world.  In my opinion there can’t be enough about them!

The story I can’t actually touch on much as it would spoil it, but it was good and the plot unexpected at times.   The pace flowed with Bishop’s usual grace and as always, I find her characterisations nothing short of amazing.

In all, a fantastic book and a credit to the series and Anne Bishop.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Book Information
  • Author: Anne Bishop
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

The Shadow Queen

If you haven’t read the Black Jewels Trilogy then stop reading this review, go and buy, borrow or request them from the library this instant!  You won’t be disappointed and they are without a doubt among my top 5 must read books.

The Shadow Queen is a novel set in the Black Jewels world and introduces new characters set in Dena Nehele in the realm of Terreille.  Dena Nehele was the location where The Invisible Ring was set but this story is in the present.  After the Witchstorm was unleashed and all the blood who carried the taint and corruption of Dorotea were wiped out, many places in Terreille were left vulnerable and open to attack from the ordinary Landens.  The bloodline of Lia and Jared has weakened and only one male heir is left, and he is desparate to restore Dena Nehele to it’s former glory and return to the old ways of the Blood.  To do so he needs a queen and as a legend was handed down through his family line, there might be a man who owed the family a favour and could help.  He didn’t bank on that man being Daemon Sadi nor have to petition the former Queen of Ebon Askavi Jaenelle Angelline, who is also Witch and Daemon’s wife.

I loved this book.  I loved having new characters brought into it who had connections to those from The Invisible Ring but above all I loved seeing Daemon, Jaenelle, Lucivar and Saetan again.  Anne Bishop created something so magical when she wrote the Black Jewels Trilogy and I go back and read them time and time again and still fall in love with them anew.  Her writing is beautiful, fluid and so easy to read, her characters attractive and lovable. Her plots tend to follow along similar lines but there is an overall reason and really, the plot is secondary to the characters.  I think I would read absolutely anything written by her to do with the Black Jewels world and I hope she continues to write about it and let us play there in our imaginations.  I couldn’t put the book down and finished it in pretty much one sitting, and now I want to go and find the original trilogy and start all over again, including the additional, later books.

Just phenomenal.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Book Information
  • Author: Anne Bishop
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)