Daughter of the Blood
I hesitated before finally deciding to review Daughter of the Blood. This book is the first of a trilogy, and without the other two, the story as presented in this volume is incomplete. Just reading a third of the trilogy could confuse an unsuspecting reader who picks it up on my recommendation, expecting a full-scale romance.
Having hedged my bets, I’ll stick out my neck to claim that the entire series will appeal to romance readers with a taste for the dark and dangerous. No, not dark and dangerous as in swashbuckling pirates. I mean dark as in abuse and corruption, and dangerous as in magic and prophecy tempered by purifying love.
We find ourselves in a fantasy world where the powers of darkness hold sway. Having once been the guardians of the realms, the Blood has grown perverted and corrupt. But a prophecy has been spoken that Witch, the living myth, will return and set things right. Three men wait urgently for her, but when they meet her she is not what they had hoped for. How can their savior be a seven-year-old girl, believed to be unstable and who is regularly committed to an institution? But, how can she not be, when her immature gifts exceed what the Prince of Darkness can accomplish? And how can they protect this fragile husk from being broken at the hands of those who value power above all things?
Jaenelle is Witch, dreams made flesh. She flits between being an unsure child who has witnessed too much, and the feral, older Witch whose powers can only be guessed at. Daemon Sadi, a bastard slave kept for the amusement of Blood women, knows he was born to be Witch’s lover. He has waited 700 years for her, and he will use the full extent of his powers and the cruelties he has learned to protect Jaenelle. He will even use himself up if that is what it takes. Another friend of Jaenelle’s is Saetan, the Prince of Darkness and the ruler of Hell. She confounds him, astounds him – he has waited just as long as Sadi for a true Queen he may serve.
In this world the basic image of the Blood is the triangle. In this case, however, a triangle has four sides; the three that form it, and the fourth side that is the inside. This means that many things come in sets of four or three plus one, as in the threesome that protects Jaenelle.
A tiny word of caution: I’ve rated the sensuality as subtle. This does not mean that the acts alluded to or sketchily described are of the staid variety. Daughter of the Blood is a dark fantasy, a world where sex is an integral part of magic, and only the lack of strong visual focus on the sexual acts prevents this read from being rated as burning, bring your own fire extinguisher.
The world of Daughter of the Blood is described only in passing. This allows the story to focus on the main characters and their interaction. At the same time, it is difficult to understand the rules governing this world and its powers, and from this it follows that the motivation and choices of multi-layered characters like Sadi and Saetan can be tricky to discern. Personally, I appreciated these parts of the book more when I reread it after having finished its sequel, Heir to the Shadows.
This is a strong, emotional read. At times I was on the brink of tears, then I was appalled or horrified, and just as suddenly I felt a ray of hope. Some readers will be shocked at the extent of suffering Jaenelle must bear; others will likely gag at the currents of love between a grown man and a child. But Jaenelle is Witch, not Lolita. If you can keep yourself from closing the book then and there, I can only recommend that you continue to the next installment. In a way, it is a disservice to a great read that it was published in three volumes.
What else can I say? I’ve read this book three times, I’ve read its sequel about 5 or 6 times by now and I am impatiently waiting for the third and final part. After all, the darker the surroundings the more clearly you can see the light.
|Review Date:||June 5, 1999|