Author: Anne Bishop
# of Pages: 412
Amazon Review available here.
Favorite line: "Do you think me such a fool that I don't recognize what she is, what she'll become? She's magic, Cassandra. A single flower blooming in an endless desert."
Anne Bishop's debut novel, Daughter of the Blood, is like black coffee--strong, dark, and hard on delicate stomachs. Within the Blood (a race of magic-users), women rule and men serve, but tradition has been corrupted so that women enslave men, who seek to destroy their oppressors. Female children are violated before they can reach maturity; men are tortured and forced to satisfy witches' sexual appetites.
Bishop's child heroine, Jaenelle, is destined to rule the Blood, if she can reach adulthood. Her power is hidden; her family believes her mad. Saetan, High Lord of Hell and most powerful of the Blood males, becomes Jaenelle's surrogate father and teacher. He cannot protect her outside Hell, where he rules. She refuses to leave Terreille, risking herself to protect or heal other victims of violence. Can Daemon, Saetan's estranged son, keep her safe from the machinations of the evil High Priestess? Or will he lose his battle to control his destructive urges and endanger her?This book is probably my first foray into "dark fantasy." It is very, very dark. And somewhat disturbing. It is also very hard to follow at the start- for the first hundred pages or so, I had no idea what I was reading about. I didn't know what was going on, there was so many characters (all of which seemed to be related), and everyone seemed to have some sort of masochistic or sadistic leanings. I was pretty much ready to set it aside and not read any more.
But I perservered and after the first quarter of the book or so, things started to click. In my opinion, it should not take 100 pages of a 400-page book for a reader to finally get a sense of where she is in a novel. But fantasy writers have huge worlds to build, and usually take three books to tell a story, so I suppose in that case, it isn't that much of the overall story that you spend in confusion.
I really enjoyed the story, once I understood what was going on. It is really different than the fantasy I have read till now. I'm sure the overall themes of fantasy novels will eventually come out, but presentation is everything, and Bishop has me believing that her story is different. The main female characters (at least, the good ones) are interesting and three-dimensional. The men seem a bit more stilted to me, but I have a feeling that they will evolve over time, given more time on air. The story itself- well, I'm not sure what is going to happen, but I have a feeling it will be big :-) And the setting is where the magic really comes into play. Oh, how I wish there was a MAP provided in this book! It would be much easier to figure out what was going on and where everyone was going. Not just of the various cities, but also of the other dimensions or "threads" or whatever it is that these people travel through. Bishop throws you right into a completely alien setting, but it is so richly-detailed and fascinating that you want to catch every little nuance she provides. If the plot develops nearly as much as the setting does, then I have a feeling this trilogy is definitely worthy of the acclaim it has received.