Initially, I thought...uh oh, what have I gotten myself into. First there were rats eating some guy’s balls, and a couple of pages later, we’re talking about “Rings of Obedience” wrapped around some poor guy’s member as some form of control/punishment. I’m thinking I’ve taken a wrong turn down the fictional alleyway and ran smack into some bdsm story. Any more of this and I’m just about to give up. But wait, before you know it Anne Bishop is weaving an intriguing world full of corruption, lust and power.
The story takes place in a matriarchal society where certain members are born with power (referred to as The Blood) which is represented by a jewel. This society is also a caste system delineated by power as represented by the colour of the jewel worn. The darker the jewel, the more power a person has; with the Black Jewel being the most powerful of them all. It is the black, the darkness, that is worshiped and not the light as is illustrated in many other stories. However, the darkness is not necessarily evil as exemplified by the character Lucivar in the following passage when talking to another about why they are treated with such cruelty.
"Because they have no honor. Because they don't remember what it means to be Blood. The High Priestess of Hayll's influence is a plague that has been spreading across the Realm for centuries, slowly consuming every Territory it touches." "Maybe the landens are right, then. Maybe the Blood are evil." Lucivar continued stroking the man's forehead and temples. "No. We are what we are. Nothing more, nothing less. There is good and evil among every kind of people. It's the evil among us who rule now."
Now, it’s very hard to give a more detailed review without spoilers. So please be aware, from this point on **SPOILER ALERT**. Although, I will still keep it fairly loose.
In the mix are obvious religious doctrines where one of the realms is called Hell, where the living dead reside. Those who are of the Blood do not actually die. The head of this realm is Saetan and not a coincidence that it is similar to Satan and his sons Daemon and Lucivar also analogous to Demon and Lucifer.
As a result of the corruption and hunger for power of Hayll’s High Priestess, these sons were separated from their father and sent to serve the women of the Blood as whores. Sex is used as a weapon by the women to dominate the men, and Daemon although subjugated by the corrupt women of the ruling class, is still able use their sexual desires against them by being the ultimate seducer and whore, flaming their lust for him. He is powerful in his own right, as he has the power of the Black Jewel but of course he is kept on a leash by the Ring of Obedience and through leverage of his brother’s life. His subjugation fuels his rage making him more cruel and sadistic. Known in the story as The Sadist, he is the ultimate anti-hero who is redeemed in the end.
A seer prophesised, “Now the Queen is coming. It may take decades, even centuries, but she is coming...The living myth...Dreams made flesh.” When she arrives, she is but a child although the most awe provoked amount of power in the history of the Blood. This child Jaenelle is a dichotomy of knowledge and innocence; power and purity. Immediately, when she appears in the story, you know that she is the destined Queen in the prophesy. However, she is shrouded in secret; the source of her hatred and sadness is a mystery to be solved.
Ultimately, it is the cruelty and grief that the characters have endured that makes them who they are, and in some instances, is what saves them as well. Jaenelle was forced to withdraw into herself, and there she found the source of her power. The abuser (which I will not name) is to be pitied, as well as hated, because despite his evil you can empathise with the horror that he also had to endure. Daemon was able to save Jaenelle’s life in the end, because he is the ultimate seducer, honed by his years of servitude, and there’s the irony.
This is a well crafted story, strongly woven with a mind boggling cast of characters and interrelationships. The Daughter of the Blood is the first of a trilogy of books. Although, Anne Bishop has written a prequel to this book, The Invisible Ring. I will however, move on to the second book, Heir to Shadows, as the first one leaves all the characters on a bit of a cliff hanger.