Queen of the Darkness

by Anne Bishop

Cover image

Series: Black Jewels #3
Publisher: Roc
Copyright: 2000
Printing: December 2003
ISBN: 0-451-52901-4
Format: Trade paperback
Pages: 400

Buy at Powell's Books

The publication information (except for the page count) is for the omnibus edition that includes the complete Black Jewels trilogy. The books do not stand alone; you don't want to read Queen of the Darkness without reading Heir of the Shadows first.

This is the plot payoff for the Black Jewels trilogy, the darkest moments and the final triumph in the emotional whiplash plot style that I enjoy, and while it's hard to get that final scene perfect, I found it satisfying. The petty bickering of the villains gets tiresome — only the good guys get much in the way of believable character development — but the final smackdown doesn't require strong feelings about the villains to work. Queen of the Darkness isn't quite at the level of Mercedes Lackey's Magic's Price in power, the book that I think is the most like it, but it's close, and for popcorn fiction that's high praise.

There's always been something about each of the books in this series that's prevented me from enjoying it as much as I wanted to. In this one, it's unfortunate romantic flailing based on zero communication and the expected mutual misunderstandings. Authors frequently drop these scenes into books for romantic angst and they never fail to bug me, particularly when the friends help out, not by facilitating communication, but by trying to shove the couple together where chemistry will supposedly make all the lack of communication irrelevant. How about encouraging the two people to just talk to each other instead? What kind of a basis does that set up for a relationship?

Thankfully, though, while the angst drags on a bit, the flailing is mercifully short and resolves with a bit more communication than average, leaving only a bit of suspicion between the good guys to get in the way of Jaenelle kicking ass. We see a lot more of the Kindred (telepathic animals), who I think are quite well-handled, and the ending is fittingly bittersweet (although I'm still curious what's happens next and was glad to see that Bishop wrote a followup book, Dreams Made Flesh).

This isn't great literature, and as I've mentioned in reviews of earlier books you have to like this particular plot style and emotional manipulation, but I thoroughly enjoyed this series and read the last book straight through in a single night. Recommended if you're looking for an emotional story and can overlook the lack of subtlety, particularly for people who liked Lackey's Valdemar series and don't mind some occasionally strange female-domination BDSM undercurrents.

Followed by Dreams Made Flesh.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Reviewed: 2005-04-05

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