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Shalador's Lady
Black Jewels #8
by Anne Bishop
Roc, $24.95, 476 pp
Published: March 2010

I’ve been a fan of Bishop’s Blood books since the beginning.  The first three books were wonderful and original.  The 4th book was weak and disappointing. The next one was fine and then there was another rather weak story.  She appeared to have taken a break to write two books in another series and then came charging back with a mature, well-plotted story – “Shadow Queen” – in 2009.  And here we are in 2010 with another wonderful, well-crafted story that follows the story begun in “Shadow Queen.”

Center stage is Lady Cassidy, a witch who wears Rose jewels (4th level on a scale to 13) but who may have the potential to be a very capable ruler in spite of her low-scale power.  Her strongest weapons are her heart and mind.  She had been enlisted by Prince Greyhaven to bring order back to his realm and help restore his birthright which had been stolen by corrupt Queens; but only for a year’s contract.  In the previous story, she found a treasure left by his ancestors which breathed life back into a society that had been crushed and decimated by the corrupt rule of generations of bad Queens.  She thought this would solidify her relationship with Prince Greyhaven and insure she would be acceptable to him and all the Blood of his realm to continue as their Queen.

Along comes Queen Kermilla whose greediness and petty selfishness had cost Cassidy a previous court and broke her spirit.  There ensues a struggle between Cassidy and Kermilla and both the fate of the entire country, and Cassidy’s heart and soul are at stake.  There are some very interesting behind-the-scenes machinations by other characters that advance the story and both intrigued and amused me.

I loved this story.  The characters were just as strong and interesting as in the first three books.  All of the main characters were strong and well defined.  Characters from the first 6 books all had parts to play without overwhelming our new, central characters.  The plot was strong and kept me in my chair until way past my bedtime. – Catherine Book

For more titles by Anne Bishop click here

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