Author: Anne Bishop
Category: Dark Fantasy
You know a book will be interesting to say the least when it opens to a guy’s balls getting eaten by rats. And, in fact, there is a lot of talk about that general anatomy in this story. They get ringed, they get “shaved,” they get kicked, and just generally conversed about.
It is interesting that a world that seems to be controlled more by women than men is extremely openly sexual. Many of the men of the Blood (those that have magic) are essentially sex slaves while you don’t see any female sex slaves. It’s almost like some form of extreme feminism except the author makes it clear that it is not something that is morally okay for anyone to be slaves.
The magic system was just a generic magic system. There is a hierarchy of colors that is the general basis but I never got a feel for different types of magic, nothing was explained in any sort of depth. I guess I have gotten spoiled by recent authors building their world around a cool magic system and that may be why this bugged me some. Apart from that though, I had so many questions about things that were introduced but never discussed.
For example, a few characters talk about their birthright stones. How does one come by these? Jaenelle’s family doesn’t know anything about hers so its not like it is something that you have at the time of birth. What is the Offering? Why can’t men go into the ring where the Offering is being done? What are the conditions for breaking the inner web?
As to the story, to be honest, it was unclear what was happening for the first half of the book. It was mostly spent setting up the world but there were so many different places, different realms, and a vast number of characters all haphazardly introduced that it was difficult to keep it all straight. The only reason much of it stuck for me through repetition so I finally started to get the hang of it.
The story did finally get interesting when Daemon Sadi gets to Chaillot and meets Jaenelle. The focus on groins lightens although we do go deeper into child molestation beyond that point. That said, the character Kartane pissed me off so freakin’ much. Here is a child rapist, has been for a long time, that gets all gag reflex-y at the thought of a guy getting “shaved” (castrated). Like, it’s not enough that you are the scum of the earth, you have to be a hypocrite about it to?!
Oh and Saetan = honorable teddy bear. What. The. Actual. Fuck. I actually had to make an effort to think of him as a totally original character and not, you know, SATAN! He spends the entire book pining about all the metaphorical ponies he can buy for Jaenelle and exactly zero time being evil in any way. He is not charismatic, he is not wily, or any other attributes you would normally attribute to the Lord of Hell.
The final scene certainly toed the line between pedophilia and a more socially acceptable form of love (he is 1700 years old, she is 12 – they don’t actually get physical but it is kind of a near thing) but I was shipping eventual Daemon/Jaenelle so hard by that point that I did not really mind too much. Daemon’s insta-love for Jaenelle is reminiscent of <i>Twilight</i>’s “imprinting” but, as unconventional as it was, it was really well-written and flowed so naturally that it actually was what drove the book.
The biggest thing against this book is the haphazard worldbuilding. Books driven by romance are hard for me to truly love. And by the end, there is so much that I feel like I don’t understand. Like at one point, Daemon gets super mad at another character, Surreal, for mentioning that he is hot and she’d kinda like to have sex with him. He throws a big baby fit and leaves her tied up to a bed and she proceeds to avoid him for 300 years. Maybe he had more motives for this but I did not catch it after re-reading the scene about 5 times trying to figure it out. I understand that the rest of the series gets a lot better so I am willing to give it a chance, at least.
If I can use only one word for this book, it would be confusing. The magic system, with the different colors and levels of power, is interesting, but I would like to understand it better then is explained in this book. There are some adventures that seem to happen and we are told about it later, such as when Jaenelle went off to learn dream weaving and we got to hear it in an explanation. COME ON! I wanna see the awesome adventure , not here someone mention it off hand. The only reason I will be continuing to read this sex driven series is because I have been told that it gets better. Once we read the rest of the series will decide whether this book was worth it to struggle through.