Thursday, July 31, 2008

Firekeeper Saga by Jane Lindskold (Series Summary)

Firekeeper Saga by Jane Lindskold (Series Summary)


♦ Mini Review ♦
An expedition into the Iron Mountains goes in search of a lost colony founded by the sole remaining heir to New Haven. What they find is a feral child who has been raised by Royal wolves: wolves who are much larger and much smarter then their regular cousin kind, and possessing telepathic powers and minor magical talents. But the question remains, is she the daughter of Prince Barden?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Through Wolf's Eyes (Firekeeper Saga: Book 1)

Mulluane | 12:01 AM | 1 Comment so far

A Fantasy Series Book Review

By Jane Lindskold

Genre: Epic Fantasy, 16+
ISBN: 0812575482
Publisher: Tor Fantasy (June 17, 2002)
Mass Market Paperback: 608 pages
Prince Barden, chafing at being the third son of King Tedric of Hawk Haven, leads an expedition across the Iron Mountains to form a colony and make a new name for himself. He is never heard from again. Years later, the secession to the throne is being hotly contended, King Tedric has no surviving blood heirs so Earl Kestrel leads a party into the mountains to discover the whereabouts of Prince Barden. What he finds is a feral child, raised by Royal wolves at the dying behest of her mother. These wolves aren't like their lesser cousins. These are three times the size and three times the intelligence. Wolves straight out of myth, and the child, last of Prince Barden's expedition, knows herself only as Firekeeper, two legged wolf. With her Royal companions, Elation, a huge peregrine falcon who was briefly a captive of humans and Blind Seer, a pack mate named for his unusual blue eyes, Firekeeper must journey to the land of men to discover if she is truly the King's granddaughter and heir to the throne.

This story is delightful. Firekeeper stays true to her character throughout the entire book. As far as Firekeeper is concerned she is a wolf. You can dress her up, style her hair, teach her courtly manners but you can't change how she views herself. On top of that, Jane Lindskold has done her research. The insight Firekeeper brings to the story from her unique perspective of having learned survival from wolves is charming.

In true Epic Fantasy tradition, this is a very "busy" book. There are tons of characters, all with a part to play. I had no problem keeping all the subplots straight but be warned, this is not a light read. There is a lot of political intrigue, a touch of sorcery, a dash of treason, intense maneuvering within the ruling classes jockeying for position as the next monarch and then there is the underlying mystery. Is Firekeeper Lady Blysse? Sole remaining blood heir to King Tedric's throne?

There is one pitfall to the shear volume of subplots. At the end of the book the suspense of how they each are going to wrap up will drive you crazy, or at least it did me, I couldn't for the life of me put it down!

I didn't read anything really objectionable in this book. It is pretty complex though, there is alot to keep track of. I believe this is the reason that its rated for age 15 and up. Excellent read!

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Shelfari Rating 4+/5

Librarything Rating 3.94/5

Amazon Rating 4 out of 5 stars
(59 Customer Reviews)


What Should I Read Next?

Kindle: Through Wolf's Eyes
Ebook: Ereadable
Buy Book: B&N Amazon: US Canada UK

Friday, July 25, 2008

Wolf's Head, Wolf's Heart (Firekeeper Saga: Book 2)

A Fantasy Series Book Review

By Jane Lindskold

Genre: Epic Fantasy, 16+
ISBN: 0812575490
Publisher: Tor Fantasy (August 18, 2003)
Mass Market Paperback: 768 pages
Firekeeper is summoned to a meeting of the various Ones of the Royal animals. There she is told a tale of the world before the Great Plague, a world where powerful magic and those who were trained in its use, ruled the lands. The Great Plague changed all that, causing the most powerful to die or flee for their lives but the Royal kind are worried. Queen Gustin has stolen three supposed magical items and its up to Firekeeper to steal them back. Hopefully before their use is rediscovered and a return to the horror of the years before the Plague returns.

And so starts another adventure for Doc, Elsie, Derian, Blind Seer. Elation and Firekeeper. We get to discover a new land, New Kelvin, where magic is still revered, even though its mainly just myth. The budding romance between Doc and Elsie takes on a new dimension and Firekeeper, well she mainly stays her uncivilized self.

There is the addition of a few new characters plus the inclusion of some old. Melina Shield teams up with Walm Endbrook, an agent of Queen Gustin and ventures into New Kelvin to get assistance in discovering the power of the three magical objects. But as always, Melina has an agenda of her own. Bold, a royal crow, a maidservant for Firekeeper, Wendee Jay and Edlin Kestrel join the party as Firekeeper goes to New Kelvin after the objects. Grateful Peace, an important member of New Kelvin society also plays a big role towards the end.

The good news: Firekeeper is as unusual a character as I've ever enjoyed reading about. The characters and subplots are less numerous, making this book a bit easier to keep track of. Unlike the first installment, the focus here is less on political intrigue and more on the characters, plus the worldbuilding in the case of New Kelvin is suberb.

The bad news: I'm not usually a plot driven type person. Give me likable, strong characters and I can forgive alot. This story however has holes in it I could throw a dragon through. I don't regret reading it and I will continue on to the third book but I have to admit to being a little disappointed. The premise is still great, Jane Lindskold has a wonderful way with words and it is a second book. Those are famous for being weak. But again, thats my opinion and I think its a good enough read to suggest you check it out for yourself. On to the next one!

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Shelfari Rating 4+/5

Librarything Rating 4.09/5

Amazon Rating 4 out of 5 stars
(20 Customer Reviews)


What Should I Read Next?

Kindle: No
Ebook: Ereadable
Buy Book: B&N Amazon: US Canada UK

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Dragon of Despair (Firekeeper Saga: Book 3) by Jane Lindskold

A Fantasy Series Book Review

By Jane Lindskold


The Dragon of Despair (Firekeeper Saga: Book 3) by Jane Lindskold
Genre: Epic Fantasy, 16+
ISBN: 0765341581
Publisher: Tor Books (April 6, 2004)
Mass Market Paperback: 768 pages

Rumors have reached Hawk Haven. Melina Shield has married the nominal ruler of New Kelvin, The Healed One. Unsure of what this portends, King Tedric decides to send an experienced group of adventurers into New Kelvin to discover what, if any, power this gives Melina and how much of a potential threat she might become to her former daughter's rule. But thats not the only trouble that is brewing. West, in the Iron Mountains, a new colony is being formed on the ashes of Firekeeper's former home, and the Royal beasts are less then pleased with this development.

The same group as in the last book venture once more into New Kelvin in search of answers. Grateful Peace joins the group, disguised as a native guide and Citrine, Melina Shield's emotionally damaged daughter tags along as Grateful's *son*. It is hoped by Citrine's doctors that a visit with dear old mom might shake her out of her weird behavior. Plus as a reward for the group making this trip King Tedric promises to remove the colonists from the Iron Mountains and set a fort in place to prevent any more such expeditions.

The flow is back in this novel. I did not have the trouble muddling through it like I did the second book. Actually I think it read closer to the first in pace, depth, intrigue and suspense. The political aspects were back at the forefront as we learned all about Toriovico, The Healed One and more details about New Kelvin, its government and its formation. There are some definite surprises in store here, the challenges of this trip are upped a few notches and I was pleased to find myself steadily turning pages to see what happened next.

Fair warning though. Don't expect much in the way of character development, there isn't any except maybe in the case of poor Citrine. Firekeeper remains uniquely herself, more wolf then human, (which is to me one of the best parts)the romance line goes nowhere, sorry romantics, and nobody else much changes either. But I'm actually going to defend this choice a little. For one thing, not much time has passed. Its only been a year since the story started. I don't expect major character development to occur rapidly when 3 volumes only cover a year's time. My second defense is its ok, in my opinion, especially in a long series, to change focus from book to book. Its less boring that way. The focus in this story is very clearly world building, back story, adventure and drama. I feel that if you go into the book realizing this, you won't be disappointed. There is GREAT world building, back story and drama making it well worth the read.

The overall content of this book isn't extreme. There are no sex scenes, some violence and mayhem but nothing over the top. There is however a wealth of vocabulary. Jane Lindskold obviously loves words, and knows how to use them. I want to also add that these are some of the best edited books I've ever seen. I'm used to seeing numerous grammar, spelling and syntax mistakes and thats not the case here. Either Jane Lindskold or her editor, or both, are extremely talented. The vocabulary level in this case is what makes me label it mature young adult, not the content.

All in all, a better book then book two. I do suggest you read book two however, even though each book in this series is for the most part self contained, you will have a better understanding of what is going on if you read them in order.

Series Summary
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Shelfari Rating 4+/5

Librarything Rating 4.11/5

Amazon Rating 4 out of 5 stars
(13 Customer Reviews)


What Should I Read Next?


Kindle: The Dragon of Despair

Ebook: No

Buy Book: B&N

Amazon: US Canada UK

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Wolf Captured (Firekeeper Saga: Book 4)

A Fantasy Series Book Review

By Jane Lindskold

Genre: Epic Fantasy, 16+
ISBN: 0765348233
Publisher: Tor Fantasy (September 29, 2005)
Mass Market Paperback: 768 pages
Firekeeper, Blind Seer and Derian are lured away from a celebration of Princess Sapphire's and Prince Shad's first born son. They are attacked and awaken some time later in the hold of a ship, Firekeeper and Blind Seer in cages, Derian chained. To make matters worse, no one is going to miss them as both are scheduled to take a trip west immediately following the festivities!

So begins my second favorite book in this series so far. The main focus is once again on Firekeeper, Blind Seer and Derian. Our trio is transported to a new land where Royal Beasts (called Wise Beasts there) not only intermingle with humans but play an integral part in that land's religion. The religion of Liglim is complicated but the short version is that the Wise Beasts (and the lesser also) are valued for their ability to interpret the will of the five deities, Fire, Water, Air, Earth and Magic and through a system of signals convey these signs to the different religious orders. When Liglim learns of Firekeeper and her ability to talk directly to the Royal Beasts in her land, they decide they must have her for their own.

The world building is excellent, the character building even more so. We learn over time alot more about Firekeeper, her true feelings for Blind Seer, her origins and more back story on the Old Colonists who brought sorcery into Firekeeper's world. Derian develops a love interest for the first time (finally) and plays a big part in the resolution of the problems that seem to pop up everywhere Firekeeper goes. There is plenty of action, drama and suspense to keep you turning pages far into the night.

This book restored my faith in the series and I'm looking forward with great delight to finding out just how much trouble Firekeeper can find in the next book! Mild profanity(very sporadic), mild love scenes (no sex) and moderate violence. Suitable for mature young adults with an above average vocabulary and patience with complicated world building. This book is back up to a rating of 5 stars!

Series Summary
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Shelfari Rating 4+/5

Librarything Rating 4.01/5

Amazon Rating 4 out of 5 stars
(12 Customer Reviews)


What Should I Read Next?

Kindle: Wolf Captured
Ebook: No
Buy Book: B&N Amazon: US Canada UK

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Wolf Hunting (Firekeeper Saga: Book 5)

A Fantasy Series Book Review

By Jane Lindskold

Genre: Epic Fantasy, 16+
ISBN: 0765351439
Publisher: Tor Fantasy (January 15, 2007)
Mass Market Paperback: 624 pages
For awhile Firekeeper has been free. Free to run Misheemnekuru with her new pack, Blind Seer as always by her side. But a message sent by the insane Wise Beast Truth has brought all that to an end. Once again Firekeeper must embark on a journey, a journey which will restore Truth's sanity, reveal what happened to the Old World rulers and might result in the destruction of everything, and every one she holds dear.

The story continues in marvelous fashion. Jane Lindskold has obviously listened to the critics of her previous novels and has narrowed the focus once more onto Derian and Firekeeper, and of course Blind Seer . In this story she introduces us to The Meddler. A sorcerer from the Old Country, The Meddler was imprisoned by his own, after centuries becoming little more then a very powerful ghost. Truth, in her wanderings through the currents of the future stumbles on his prison and discovers that in order to free herself, she must free him, and this requires the help of Firekeeper. While in the process of freeing Truth a mystery is uncovered, a quest is formed and Firekeeper, Blind Seer, Truth, Derian, the Wise horse Eshinarvash, the ravens Bitter and Lovable, Plik, the part human, part raccoon hybrid, and Harjeedian must once again go in search of answers. The answers they find will leave each one who survives profoundly changed by the experience.

The drama is in high gear in this installment, there are unforeseeable twists, turns and surprises. We see some definite character development, some thrills, chills, tense moments and some heartwarming ones too. This volume makes muddling through some of the previous ones well worth it. I am very much looking forward to the last book and the final answers to my lingering questions about the Old World and its dangerous sorcery.

Series Summary
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Shelfari Rating 4+/5

Librarything Rating 4.06/5

Amazon Rating 4 out of 5 stars
(10 Customer Reviews)


What Should I Read Next?

Kindle: No
Ebook: No
Buy Book: B&N Amazon: US Canada UK

Friday, July 11, 2008

Wolf's Blood (Firekeeper Saga: Book 6)

A Fantasy Series Book Review

By Jane Lindskold

Genre: Epic Fantasy, 16+
ISBN: 0765353741
Publisher: Tor Fantasy (January 2, 2008)
Mass Market Paperback: 736 pages
Meddler is up to his old tricks. Once again he uses his link to Firekeeper to invade her dreams. This time suggesting she go on a different sort of hunt; a hunt for the source of the Fire Plague that handicaps her friends and allies. Derian and the rest are trying to prepare the Nexus Islands for an invasion, an invasion they will be hard pressed repel with the numbers they have to work with. The best way to succeed would be if they could recruit allies from the New World, but thats not possible. Anyone coming through the gates could be killed or forever changed by contracting the Curse.

Once again the primary focus is on Firekeeper and Blind Seer with a close second on Derian and the inhabitants of the Nexus Islands. We also get a look at the 7 countries that make up the Old World. There is some complex worldbuilding that takes place in explaining each country's political, magic and religious structures. We learn alot more about the Divine Retribution, Fire Plague, Querinalo Curse that attacks anyone with magical abilities. There is love, war, politics, betrayal, romance and some surprises in store to savor and enjoy. And as always there is Firekeeper with her decidedly unhuman way of looking at things that makes you question who has it right, humans or wolves.

I have mixed feelings about this finale. The specific ending in one way is one of the best I've ever read. I loved it just for itself. However, the overall ending failed to satisfy, it left far too many unanswered questions and didn't (in my opinion) follow at all the tone set at the beginning. It was like the book started off going in one direction and then headed off in another without ever resolving the first.

That being said, possibly badly but I'm not sure how else to explain it, its a great book and a great series. Firekeeper has to be one of the most unique characters I've ever had the pleasure to get caught up in. For that reason alone I recommend this book because the ending truly brings home both exactly how complicated, and uncomplicated a person she really is. I was left wishing that we all could spend more time with wolves because I think that compared to us mere humans, they have the better grasp on the true meaning of life.

Minimal adult content but complex in vocabulary and worldbuilding. I suggest these would be best suited to advanced readers, age 15+.

Series Summary
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Shelfari Rating 4.5/5

Librarything Rating 3.82/5

Amazon rating 4+ of 5 stars
(10 Customer Reviews)


What Should I Read Next?

Kindle: No
Ebook: No
Buy Book: B&N Amazon: US Canada UK

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Princess Duology (Series Summary)

Author: Dawn Cook
Publisher: Ace
Book Reviews: Princess Decoy - Princess at Sea
Genre: Fantasy Series, 13+
Tess is a pampered princess, but not your typical princess. Tess has been raised from birth with the constant threat of assassination hanging over her, thanks to a prophecy made at her birth. As a result she is trained in unusual ways, knife throwing, how to use a whip, how to hide effectively and her tolerance to poison has been raised, painfully, a bit at a time. But finally, she is engaged to be married to Prince Garrett of Misdev - if he survives the assassins himself. Other suitors have not.

Tess is in for the shock of her young life however. After meeting her husband to be, her parents, King and Queen of Costenopolie pull her aside and try to tell her gently that they love her but she is not the real princess! She was bought off the streets, an unwanted baby whose mother had died and raised in the princess's place. The real princess was raised in a nunnery, safe from the assassins and is on her way home for the wedding. Oh but it gets worse. Prince Garrett is less then pleased. His real intent is to seize the country of Costenopolie for his own but now he has no bride in residence with which to secure his rule. In fear for her life, heartbroken and confused, Tess escapes, determined to find and save the real princess and the country she had once considered her own.

So starts a great adventure. Tess is a lovable character who faces an impossible situation with a fortitude you just have to admire. Dawn Cook doesn't let up on her either, throwing trial after trial at her in an almost relentless fashion. This story twists and turns and then twists again. Its full of romance, heartache, political intrigue, betrayal, courage and adventure. The pace is fast, the characters believable, and the premise is interesting. Its a nice twist on the type of protagonist who is a nobody who becomes a somebody, in this case Tess starts out having it all, only to find out that she is a nobody, a gutter snipe bought off the street. Even the magic is unique, coming from a source that might surprise you.

There is some violence, but not all that much, nor overly graphic, there is some colorful language, mainly coached in local vernacular so it isn't offensive, and there are no sex scenes. I recommend these two books to any young adult audience and adults will enjoy them also. If you want more detail, please read the individual reviews of each book. Good light reading.


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Monday, July 7, 2008

The Decoy Princess (Princess Duology, Book 1)

A Fantasy Series Book Review

By Dawn Cook

Genre: Fantasy Series, 13+
ISBN: 0441013554
Publisher: Ace (November 29, 2005)
Paperback: 368 pages
Princess Contessa of Costenopolie (Tess for short) is finally engaged. A prophecy that came to light at the time of her birth has resulted in assassination attempts, both against her and later any suitors who thought to take advantage of the fact that she is fated to bring down the neighboring rulers. But not all is as it seems. Within minutes of finding out the marriage terms Prince Garrett has asked for, Tess knows he is not the handsome second son of a neighboring ruler, he is an evil, greedy, power hungry cad. But, her problems are just starting. She also discovers, as does the Prince, that she isn't even the real Princess. She is a decoy, bought off the streets as an infant; raised and trained to survive the assassins sent to kill the real Princess Contessa. Things go from bad to worse and the former princess must flee for her life, hunted by Captain Jeck, captain of Prince Garrett's guards. The survivor skills taught to her by Councilor Kavenlow will serve her well but she still has never been outside the city on her own, and its a scary situation. In the process of her escape, she meets Duncan, a handsome card shark, who fascinated by her, insists on coming along. But he has an agenda of his own.

This is a great story. Tess has to go from a pampered princess with a palace literally at her command, to a frightened young girl who must flee for her life. She makes the transition smoothly, Dawn Cook is very good at making her characters believable and keeping the pacing up to a decent speed. There is a hint of romance, but the main focus is on the surprises, twists and turns Tess must face, both internally and externally. The tension builds throughout as our former princess finds out that absolutely nothing is as it seems and just as soon as she comes to terms with one pitfall, she is faced with another that is worse.

For all that, its a light read, the main characters are kept to a minimum, its told in first person which keeps the main focus on Tess. Now some people don't like first person novels but Dawn Cook does it really well and it enhances the story in this case. There is some mild language, nothing you don't hear every day, the romance is just that, romance, no sex and the violence isn't terribly graphic, nor is there really that much of it, but there are a few battle scenes. As a result I recommend this to young adults and up. Its an interesting premise, has good world building, great pace and excellent characterization. A very good read.

Series Summary
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Shelfari Rating 4/5

Librarything Rating 3.95/5

Amazon Rating 4+ out of 5 stars
(30 Customer Reviews)


What Should I Read Next?

Kindle: No
Ebook: No
Buy Book: B&N Amazon: US Canada UK

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Princess At Sea (Princess Duology, Book 2)

A Fantasy Series Book Review

By Dawn Cook

Genre: Fantasy Series, Young Adult
ISBN: 0441014240
Publisher: Ace (July 25, 2006)
Paperback: 352 pages
Costenopolie is safe, the war averted, the real princess (now Queen) is married to Prince Alex of Misdev and Tess is now their ambassador. Accompanying them on their honeymoon cruise, Tess thinks her only problems are keeping the royal couple from killing each other, but oh is she wrong.

Pirates lurk nearby, intent on murder, mayhem, kidnapping and ransom. And Tess, even though she is in line for the throne, is not a part of their plans. Will she survive? Will the two men in her life, Duncan the card shark or Captain Jeck, soldier and rival player, be able to save her and the Royals?

Dawn Cook's writing continues to improve and this book is a winner. Tess is incredibly strong, dedicated, and determined to accomplish her goals with as little violence as possible. She is also insecure, lonely, afraid of her growing powers and mistrusting of almost everybody around her. This makes for a very complicated and believable character. When it counts, she will do what's needed, but she is always aware of possible complications and consequences of her actions. The ending has a few big surprises in store; the pace is fairly fast, though I thought Tess's fight against insanity a bit overdone. If you want a book with lots of drama, adventure, rescue, escape, trials and tribulations with a bit of romance thrown in, you'll enjoy this book. Aside from a bit of colorful language, I recommend this for any young adult and for mature readers.

Series Summary
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Ratings, Reviews, Similar Reads, Buy Books

Shelfari Rating 4+/5

Librarything Rating 3.95/5

Amazon Rating 4+ out of 5 stars
(19 Customer Reviews)


What Should I Read Next?

Kindle: No
Ebook: No
Buy Book: B&N Amazon: US Canada UK

Friday, July 4, 2008

Daughter of the Blood (Black Jewels Trilogy: Book 1)

Mulluane | 12:01 AM | 2 Comments so far

By Anne Bishop



Seven hundred years ago, a Black Widow witch saw an ancient prophecy come to life in her web of dreams and visions. Now the Dark Kingdom readies itself for the arrival of its Queen, a Witch who will wield more power than even the High Lord of Hell himself. But she is still young, still open to influence-and corruption.

Whoever controls the Queen controls the darkness. Three men-sworn enemies-know this. And they know the power that hides behind the blue eyes of an innocent young girl. And so begins a ruthless game of politics and intrigue, magic and betrayal, where the weapons are hate and love-and the prize could be terrible beyond imagining.

*Blurb source* Penguin
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Daughter of the Blood (Black Jewels Trilogy: Book 1) by Anne Bishop

| Genre: Dark Fantasy
| Content: Witches, 18+
| ISBN-10: 0451456718
| ISBN-13: 9780451456717
| Publisher: Roc (March 1, 1998)
| Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
| (1998 Sapphire Award Finalist)
| Cover Artist: Larry Rostant
| Source: Personal copy
| Read an Excerpt
| Rating: 5 Stars
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Daughter of the Blood (The Black Jewels, #1)



♥ Mini Review ♥
Whenever I am asked what my 10 most favorite series are, this series always tops the list. This is because it is, without any doubt, the series I reread the most. The reason for this varies according to my mood. If I am feeling dark, it caters to that state of mind. If I need a good laugh, I go read one of the priceless scenes involving Saetan and Janelle. If I am feeling let down or betrayed, I turn to the pages featuring the devotion of Janelle's loyal friends and true family. When I long for the days when honor and protocol mattered, this series renews my faith. And the list goes on. I have never read a series quite like it. There is something here that speaks to every mood, every frame of mind, imaginable.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Heir of the Shadows (Black Jewels Trilogy: Book 2)

By Anne Bishop



In this violently passionate, "darkly fascinating world,"** the Blood rule: a race of witches and warlocks whose power is channeled through magical jewels. Ambitions unfurl in this second novel of The Black Jewels Trilogy, as the realm's dreams of a liberator have finally been made flesh...

Jaenelle, singled out by prophecy as the living embodiment of magic, is haunted by the cruel battles the Blood have fought over her-for not all of them await her as their Savior. Nothing, however, can deflect her from her destiny-and the day of reckoning looms near. When her memories return. When her magic matures. When she is forced to accept her fate. On that day, the dark Realms will know what it means to be ruled by Witch.

*Blurb source* Penguin
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Heir of the Shadows (Black Jewels Trilogy: Book 2) by Anne Bishop

| Genre: Dark Fantasy
| Content: Witches, 18+
| ISBN-10: 0451461517
| ISBN-13: 9780451461513
| Publisher: Roc Trade (August 7, 2007)
| Mass Market Paperback: 432 pages
| Cover Artist: Larry Rostant
| Source: Personal copy
| Read an Excerpt
| Rating: 5 Stars
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Heir to the Shadows (The Black Jewels, #2)



♥ Mini Review ♥
Jaenelle Angelline, Witch, living myth, dreams made flesh, but for all that a very damaged, emotionally unstable, young girl. Can her adopted Father, the High Lord of Hell with the help of his sons, heal the scars left by the sadistic abuse their future Queen has suffered?

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