After the excruciating ending of Daughter Of Blood Jaenelle needs to piece back her crystal chalice and this takes time...a long time. While she tries so hard there are three men fighting for her, Saetan who unmercifully demands the Guardianship of Jaenelle before the Dark Council. She is after all the daughter of his soul. Lucivar who holds evidence of Jaenelle's torment and howls his pain to the winds and then there's Daemon. What he did for Jaenelle demanded a price and he's barely holding on to sanity when he descends into the Twisted Kingdom.
Things do not look good for the main players as enemies recover from their failure and start scheming again.
All consuming...if I could only use one word to describe Heir To The Shadows it would be this word. It is not unusual for a second entry in a continuous trilogy to be perceived as "just" a connecting read between book one and three. It doesn't have a real beginning nor a true ending and this sometimes leaves the reader unsatisfied or the story has less of an impact. Well not with the Black Jewel trilogy and not with the kind of writing skill Anne Bishop once again portrays in Heir To The Shadows! She threw me back into the Shadow Realm of Kaeleer, Hell and Terreille where old and new characters awaited my return to join them in an extraordinary journey.
From the rich foundation created in DoB the story deepens in Heir To The Shadows and it is told in 5 parts. It holds heart shattering tender moments, malevolent cruel events but also the healing of a young woman blooming into a Queen unlike the Shadow Realms has ever seen before! The raw emotions protruding from this tale creates a mesmerizing vibe between the reader and the story. I was unable to put the book aside for more than a moment or so.
Jaenelle is a combination of immense strength and power as Witch but hidden beneath it there is also a fragile young woman not many get to witness. The duality of the young woman that needs guidance and Witch that holds ancient wisdom way beyond her years possesses many facets that results in a vivacious leading female character. Jaenelle is headstrong enough to go her own way and she meets many people that - in the end - will come to mean so much to her.
Saetan is her father by choice, by heart, and in many ways it feels like a father/daughter relationship, but an intricate one. As everything is intricate and multi-layered in Bishop's world. Saetan is more than aware of her power but these years are the years that will shape Jaenelle in what she is meant to be. He allows her to be and watches over her wellbeing but still holds that aura of danger about him. He still is the High Lord Of Hell after all.
Lucivar has a larger secondary role than in DoB and speaks of his dream to one day serve a great Black Jeweled Queen. His years as a slave in Pruule's salt mines have wreaked havoc on his wings and spirit and when evidence is presented his dream is shattered into pieces. However, as the story progresses his true nature arises of an Eyrien Prince and he is cocksure of himself but also has a teasing playful side. Never underestimate him though, he kills as easy as he will smile.
And then there's Daemon, he isn't all that much in the picture but because he dwells in the twisted Kingdom he doesn't stray far from one's thoughts. The implication of it all - of Daemon's situation - can have a devastating effect on Jaenelle as she eventually has to form her court. Everything has a price and Daemon's storyline is the embodiment of this phrase.
Jaenelle, Saetan, Lucivar and Daemon remain the primary focus of Heir To The Shadow but there is a diversity in secondary characters that each plays a vital part in this novel. If only to think of the Dark Council with its scheming members or Hekatah and Dorothea, also two Queens who desire more power. It is essential to Jaenelle's healing in the early stages of this book that she meets her friends again and Morghanna, Karla, Gabrielle, Chaoti, the Kindred and many others come to join Saetan and Jaenelle in their first summer.
There is not really a main or secondary plotline because it is all important. Minor details become significant in the end when all separate threads come together and drive towards a conclusion that is both an ending as it is a beginning. Jaenelle will baffle you at one time and surprise you the next but never is the warning of her power far gone from her. Though she only wants to be responsible for her own life, it is that same life that leads her down another path and when the child becomes a woman the reckoning will be at hand for those who wrongfully cross her path!
With 400 pages there isn't one page that didn't contain the wealth of the author's imagination. Each page claimed a bit more of me until I was completely absorbed by the thoughts, feelings and actions from each character. I laughed with the shopping spree of Jaenelle or when her power went berserk again with the simplest form of the Craft. I cried when the sacrifices had to be made or when the kindred had to suffer the cruel intensions of power hungry Queens. To see a young queen mature with her friends was an incredible trip and while I can honestly say that this is not a light-hearted story, for those who are willing to go the distance in all the light and dark emotions this is the novel and the Shadow Realm is the place to be!
I did not read Heir To The Shadows, I felt it, lived it and experienced it. An unforgettable entry in the Black Jewel trilogy!