I’ll say right now that my favorite series changes from year to year (sometimes from month to month) as I discover new books and new authors. Right now, I’d say my favorite is “The Black Jewels” series by Anne Bishop.

They’re dark fantasy novels to be sure and the first one is especially brutal. I’ve described other books that way – most notably George Martin’s Game of Thrones. Bishop’s novels are brutal in a very different way, using more psychological games and less outright torture to manipulate her characters’ suffering. In Bishop’s case, the brutality was (in some cases) horrifying, but the way she told the story made me want to keep going. There was a balance between humor and horror and hope that made me think that things would get better for the characters and the world.

Sure enough, it did! Bishop, instead of starting light and fluffy and going darker and more “intense”, started dark and has become lighter and more fun as the series goes along. Some readers have complained that they miss the dark  and gritty subject matter, but I find the change refreshing. I’m really tired of authors creating a bright and beautiful world and then razing it to the ground for drama’s sake. It’s nice to see an author start in a broken world and actually fix it and make it better. I know that I, for one, will keep reading for as long as she continues to explore this world.

In all honesty, as good as the first book was, as the darkest and most savage of them all, I’m not sure I’ll re-read it any time soon.  I’ve gone through the following two books multiple times and the last four independent books (not part of the original trilogy, but same world and characters), I’ve all but memorized. The latest book just came out this year, so I haven’t gotten my hands on it yet, but I will soon. I’m impatient like that. I may be able to wait til it comes out in paperback to buy it, but I can’t wait that long to actually read it! Guess I’ll have to hunt down a hardcover version – but that’s what libraries are for!

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