Return to New York Times bestselling author Anne Bishop’s world of the Black Jewels—where a Queen has emerged from the shadows to bring hope to an impoverished people…
For years the Shalador people suffered the cruelties of the corrupt Queens who ruled them, punishing those who dared show defiance, and forcing many more into hiding. And even though the refugees have found sanctuary in Dena Nehele, they have never been able to call it home.
Now that Dena Nehele has been cleansed of tainted Blood, the Rose-Jeweled Queen, Lady Cassidy, knows that restoring the land will require all her heart and courage as she summons the untested power within her, a power capable of consuming her if she cannot control it.
And even if Lady Cassidy survives her trial by fire, other dangers await. For the Black Widows see visions within their tangled webs that something is coming that will change the land—and Lady Cassidy—forever…
“Some people need a hard lesson in order to learn and grow—and some people are the hard lesson.”
Overall, I liked the Dena Nehele arc. I enjoyed seeing the aftermath of what happened after Jaenelle cleansed the blood. However, I was left.. disappointed in the end. The entire book, and frankly the last book, Bishop was building up to something. I was expecting something to happen at the end. However, it ended so.. blandly. All that build up went nowhere. Well, that isn’t true. It went into paperwork.
I think The Shadow Queen and Shalador’s Lady could have been combined into one book had Bishop been a bit more selective. There was a lot of wasted time, things that didn’t have to be shown, plot lines that were started up but weren’t really explored. Between the two books, so much of the story was spent on Cassidy’s looks and her previous court and on the selfish, horrible woman that is trying to take Cassidy’s territory again. I refuse to believe the rest of the Queens in Kaeleer couldn’t have taken care of Kermilla in their own way. That she wasn’t punished for her actions in Kaeleer, not even connected to Cassidy or Dena Nehele at all, is ridiculous. There are so many “second chances” it is more like “hundredth chance”.
One thing I really liked was with these two books, and this one in particular, we see what the difference between Dark Jeweled users and Light Jeweled users. It really shows how differently they solve their problems and how differently they rule. It also shows how much work the Dark Jeweled users have to take on because the Light Jeweled users rely on them so much. I also really liked how we saw how a good man could be twisted by a bad queen. That drive by the men to follow the one they are meant to follow is overwhelming and makes them blind to the truths. I felt sorry for Grayhaven, but mostly I feel sorry for everyone in history that has had something similar happen to them.
In The Shadow Queen I said that I thought the original crew was around too much and had too much of their story, and I hoped it would fall back in this book. Unfortunately, the author added even more plot points on top of it. And then Bishop abandoned those threads midway through without really finishing any of them. I suspect that the novella collection, Twilight’s Dawn, is going to finish up all these threads. However, I am just left feeling really annoyed that this happened at all. I would have liked those plots even if they only were in Twilight’s Dawn. Instead, I felt left wanting for more of what she introduced here. Also, this will mean I can’t just recommend to skip this arc if you want only more of the original crew because the beginning is in these books. Overall, leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
Overall, a solid end to the Dena Nehele arc, even though I was disappointed in the hows of how it ended. This arc showed something that was easily in need of being shown (though only because Bishop decided to continue the story after the third book).
To read more reviews for this series, check out the The Black Jewels series page!