I needed no time to think about the book I wanted to talk about for this feature. In fact, as soon as I read the BBAW website this book popped straight into my head.
I’ve only ever seen it mentioned on one blog before – The Paperback Dolls. But other than that it’s strangely absent from the book blogosphere.
This is a trilogy, and I can’t really pick out one book from the three as I bought it as an omnibus and read all three as one. If you do buy them as separate books, I advise you to have the next one ready as I guarantee you’ll want it!
Seven hundred years ago, a Black Widow witch saw an ancient prophecy come to life in her web of dreams and visions. Now the Dark Realm readies itself for the arrival of its Queen, the Witch who will wield more power than even the High Lord of Hell himself. But the Queen is still young, still open to influence – and corruption. Whoever controls the Queen controls the Darkness. Three men – sworn enemies – know this. And they know the power that hides behind the blue eyes of an innocent young girl. And so begins a ruthless game of politics and intrigue, magic and betrayal, where the weapons are hate and love – and the prize could be terrible beyond imagining. (Goodreads)
The ‘Black Jewels Trilogy‘ is a fantasy, set in a matriarchal world. It is dark, cruel and violent. While there are men who choose to serve their queens, there are many who subjugated and tortured into submission. Forced to wear painful rings to ensure their obedience (I’ll leave you to work out where). But, as always power corrupts and society has become twisted and is declining.
Seven hundred years ago a black widow predicted the birth of a queen whose power would surpass all living queens, and restore the balance of this increasingly barbaric world.
This queen is Jaenelle. We meet her in the first book when she’s five, and she grows through each novel until she becomes a woman ready to face her destiny.
The lead, three main male characters in the story are Saetan and his sons Daemon and Lucivar. Saetan is the High Lord of Hell. But, in an interesting twist Saetan and his sons are in fact the good guys.
As Jaenelle grows into her powers, the other queens manoeuvre to find and control her. Cueing ruthless political games and cruelty. Daemon and Lucivar have known of Jaenelle’s coming for years. They have endured suffering and torture, sometimes willingly in order to ensure her safety and survival. When the stakes get higher Daemon makes an utterly heart-breaking sacrifice to save her.
Daemon is one of the characters that makes the books. Firstly he is sexy as hell, but it’s his emotions that make you want to read more. In fact, there were times in these books I could hardly bear it. The pages just couldn’t go fast enough and I found myself absolutely desperate to find out what would happen next. Please don’t be put off by the number of pages, this is the sort of book that will keep you up through all hours of the night, turning the pages like an addiction.
At the core is a stunning love story. It’s handled carefully as for a lot of it Jaenelle is not old enough to have a love interest. But it’s beautiful and selfless and real at the same time. Made up of the sort of devotion most people would kill for.
One of the big things you do have to get around, especially if you don’t normally read high fantasy, is how a person is classed. There are jewels and then abilities. These determine a person’s magical strength. A woman is always more powerful than a man, hence the matriarchal system. This hierarchy is explained in two pages at the beginning of the book and I often found myself referring to them when a new character was introduced to understand where they stood in the system. You do have to get your head into it, but as soon as you get into the swing of it, it’s fine.
A small word of warning, there is some quite shocking violence in these books. I didn’t feel that it was gratuitous, but at times it does take you back. So it’s perhaps not for the faint hearted.
This book is a tight web of deceit, magic and darkness. It is the ultimate combination of romance and high fantasy. It’s been about five years since I last read it and after writing this feature I find myself longing to pick it up again.
As black as molasses and utterly compelling. I highly recommend it. 10/10!