Friday, April 27, 2007

Heir to the Shadows by Anne Bishop

Title: Heir to the Shadows
Author: Anne Bishop
Published: April 1999
Grade: 10/10

Series: The Black Jewels Trilogy, Book 2

First Line:
The Dark Council reconvened.

Why I Chose this Book:
Easy. I'd been totally hooked by Daughter of the Blood and had no choice but to keep reading.

In Heir to the Shadows, Jaenelle's vampiric, adoptive father, Saetan, and her foster-family of demons shelter her. To restore her memory and emotional balance, they move to Kaeleer, where Jaenelle befriends the kindred--animals with magical and communicative powers--and gathers a circle of young Queens. She also heals Lucivar, Daemon's half-brother, who offers a brother's love and a warrior's fealty. As she recovers strength and memory, Jaenelle resolves to restore Daemon and cleanse Terreille.

My Comments:
Wow, so like the previous volume of the trilogy, this book just blew me away.

Bishop continues the tale of Jaenellle with her growth to adulthood. At the end of Daughter of the Blood, Daemon, Saetan and Cassandra have rescued Jaenelle from Briarwood, too late to prevent her rape but soon enough to save her life and for Daemon to save her sanity. Saetan and Cassandra have stolen her away to Kaeler while Daemon was left behind to fight off the villians and barely escaped himself.

Heir to the Shadows opens two years later and while Jaenelle has healed physically, she has remained in a coma. Saetan has, rather forcibly, had himself appointed her guardian and waits, with growing impatience, for her her to wake. She does at the book begins, but she remembers nothing of what happened to her. Daemon, meanwhile, had gone mad in the belief that not only was he responsible for her death, but that he was the one who raped her.

Like its predecessor, this book sounds like it should be grim, dark and horrible, and yet Bishop avoids this. It is the world and the situation that is dark, but not the charcters, despite their power and often, their tempers.

The books skips through the years to end as Jaenelle reaches her majority at 20, but Bishop handles the time jumps deftly and I never felt that the book jarred because of this.

This is Jaenelle's tale, and it focusses on her - her growing understand of what it means to be Witch, her growing use of her power and her frustration to master its basics. But mostly, it is about her relationships with the people around her.

With Saetan, the High Lord of Hell, whom she calls Papa and interacts with both as the child/young woman she is and occasionally as the powerful creation she is under her human mask. With Lucivar who finds a sister in her, and learns trust and loyalty again after centuries of captivity. With the friends she used to sneak off to meet as a child, who we meet in person in this book, human and Kindred both. Each one powerful and influential, these are the ones what will form her court and her power base as, in the last book, she surely forges the new beginning for the Realms she was called into existence to create.

One character who is almost conspicuous by absence is Daemon, who appears and disappears as we saw Tersa do in the first volume, fighting for and losing a hold on sanity. It fits the story, is perfectly appropriate in fact, but his presence is missed all the same. Yet he is the final note in this part of the tale, as he climbs back out of the Twisted Kingdom, whole again and reforged to be the consort Jaenelle will need at the conculsion of the book.

I have always tended to put off things I really want to watch or read, and I have never really been able to figure out why. I have come to realise that it is not a need to save something to keep that anticipation and newness for as long as possible, but something closer to fear. Yet, I've always known it wasn't fear of disappointment. It was while reading this book that I finally figured it out. The stuff I know is going to be good, the stuff I have been waiting for so eagerly; for those things I open wide my arms and throw myself off the cliff into the story. I hold nothing back and fall into the lives of the characters, aching for them, living the tale with them. And when I'm done, it takes me a while to surface again and find my way back to the real world. That's exhausting. It can even hurt. It's so very worth it, but it's not light, easy and distant. No wonder I tend to procrastinate.

This is that kind of book. Absolutely worth it and so much an amazing adventure.

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