Shalador’s Lady, the latest in Anne Bishop’s Black Jewels series and sequel to last year’s The Shadow Queen, continues the story of Lady Cassidy’s rejuvenation of the land Dena Nehele. The Black Jewels series has a huge cast of strong characters living in a, sometimes tyrannical, matriarchal society. Set in the aftermath of the cleansing of the corrupt Queens in Terreille, the surviving Warlord Princes asked for the help of a Kaeleer Queen to remind the people of the old ways. Disappointed in the plain, light jeweled Queen Cassidy, Prince Theran, who tries to see what others see, feels a connection to the selfish but vivacious Lady Kermilla who visits Cassidy in Dena Nehele. Deciding that Kermilla would make a better Queen, Theran begins to undermine Cassidy, despite the fact that she found the treasure of Grayhaven and has started to heal the land. Blind to Kermilla’s true nature and his friends revulsion of her, Theran’s actions cause Cassidy to move her court to the Shalador reserves. The land begins to fracture as the people choose sides.
I cannot say enough good things about the Black Jewels series. Anne Bishop’s writing just grabs you and immerses you into a brilliant universe with a vivid cast of characters. Daemon Sadi has become one of my all time favorite characters. In anticipation of the release of Shalador’s Lady, I re-read The Shadow Queen and ended up re-reading the original trilogy as well. Then after reading the new release, I went back and read The Invisible Ring again, which depicts the ancestors of the characters in the two newest books. It seems that every time I read one of the books in the series, I end up getting sucked into the universe and re-read all of them.
I think Shalador’s Lady is a good addition to the series, though it is not my favorite. Unlike the emotional delving in The Shadow Queen, this one focuses more on the action side of things in Terreille. The SaDiablo family sections are not as big either, which I missed since they are my favorites. I did like the return of Surreal and Ranon, who always add a lively air to things. And of course I loved seeing Gray become the man he was meant to be.
I highly recommend any and all of Anne Bishop’s novels, including the Black Jewels series, the Ephemera series, and the Tir Alainn trilogy.