Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Re-Read: The Shadow Queen by Anne Bishop

Not long ago, Tabitha asked "What to do when your urge to read war with your desire to review?" My answer was to keep on reading and not to mess with her reading roll. Well for once, I listened to my own advice LOL. I was on a reading roll in February (small because of the Olympics, but still a roll) and decided to just read what I felt like reading, even if that meant not making it for the various reading challenges I signed up for. I did feel bad missing them, especially the Re-Read Challenge because I'm the host and should set the example, but what can I say? I was afraid I'd go from a reading roll to a reading slump ^_^;

Luckily though, after reading Shadalor's Lady by Anne Bishop last Saturday, I had the urge to re-read The Shadow Queen just to refresh my memory on how it all started... and I was able to finish it on Sunday :) So today, I'm taking a page from Leslie's book of logic :P I'm posting my re-read review and, since technically, today would be February 31... I'm not late right? :)

The Shadow Queen by Anne Bishop
published by New American Library (ROC) in March 2009
Dena Nehele is a land decimated by its past. Once it was ruled by corrupt Queens who were wiped out when the land was cleansed of tainted Blood. Now, only one hundred Warlord Princes stand—without a leader and without hope…

Theran Grayhaven is the last of his line, desperate to find the key that reveals a treasure great enough to restore Dena Nehele. But first he needs to find a Queen who knows Protocol, remembers the Blood’s code of honor, and lives by the Old Ways.

Languishing in the Shadow Realm, Lady Cassidy is a Queen without a court, a castoff. She is not beautiful. She thinks she is not strong. But when she is chosen to rule Dena Nehele, she must convince bitter men to serve once again.

Theran’s cousin Gray is a Warlord Prince who was damaged in mind and body by the vicious Queens who once ruled Dena Nehele. Yet something about Cassidy makes him want to serve—and makes him believe he can be made whole once again.

And only Cassidy can prove to Gray—and to herself—that wounds can heal and even the whisper of a promise can be fulfilled...

Genre: Fantasy
Series: Black Jewels series, Book #8 (Dena Nehele trilogy, Book #2)

The Story: The synopsis does a good job summarizing the book, but I'm going to add my two cents.

Dena Nehele lands and people have been decimated by generations of corrupt Queens, even more than other territories because hundred years ago, Dena Nehele had a queen and her consort powerful enough to stand up to Dorothea SaDiablo, Lia the Gray Lady and Jared Grayhaven. Thus, they had to pay a steeper price. Now, it's been two years since Witch has cleansed the three realms from the tainted Bloods and the Warlord Princes in Dena Nehele have finally quenched the landens uprising. All the people of Dena Nehele wants is to go back to their roots and live the Old Ways, following Protocol. Theran Grayhaven is the last direct descendant of Lia and Jared and thus, has been chosen as Dena Nehele leader. Theran decides to "call in a favor" with Daemon Sadi and asks for a Queen from Kaeleer to come rule Dena Nehele in order to show them the Old Ways.

Lady Cassidy has been abandoned by her First Court because she was neither pretty or powerful and did not possess an aristo lineage. However, she has been chosen by Witch herself to be the Queen of Dena Nehele. Thus, she embarks in this adventure, to try to show the Old Ways to people who has forgotten their roots. Unfortunately for Cassidy, the road will be long and hard as will have to convince skeptics to join her court... and the biggest of them all, Theran Grayhaven himself. Luckily for her, she'll find a surprisingly ally in Gray, Theran's cousin who was captured at 15 years old and tortured the two following years... at the age of 27, Gray is not whole... just the shadow of what he could have been...

My Opinion: Here is my review of The Shadow Queen the first time I read it and basically my opinion and grade have not changed much. Although it's hard to review this without spoilers of Shadalor's Lady!

After reading Shadalor's Lady, I think The Shadow Queen did a good job at setting up the story and introducing the major characters for the trilogy. The story is fairly simple, since it consisted of Cassidy arriving at Dena Nehele, setting Court and showing her colors. Still, it was interesting and fun to read :)

The main characters (Theran, Cassidy and Gray) were also in interesting lot. They're all multi-dimensional and well developed. I really like Cassidy - she has this inner strength. She's a solid woman, the kind that's not afraid of work and get it done, without all the sparks and flashes. In The Shadow Queen, Cassidy has a low-esteem issue, she's still reeling from the abandonment of her First Court and so, she's on shaky leg. Not very sure of herself, doubting... and it sure doesn't help that Theran is being such a jerk. I'd be very curious to see the Cassidy prior the abandonment. Gray was my favorite characters in The Shadow Queen. Tortured for two years by wicked Queens, he's still scarred and so protect himself by not letting him grow emotionally. However, meeting Cassidy makes him want to become a man and that's very sweet. As for Theran, well he was a jerk. There's no other words to describe him... which is quite an interesting choice, as he's a protagonist in The Shadow Queen. He's just hateful and so stubborn and frustrating, ugh. However, there's a redeeming factor in him: he does truly care for Gray. I don't want to say too much on Theran, because I think my opinion of him is being influenced by the events of Shadalor's Lady

I thought The Shadow Queen was a very good book the first time and it's still so the second time around. Especially when you read it a year later. Of course, the surprise element is not there anymore, but it doesn't really matter. What matters is I still laughed and chuckled as I was reading The Shadow Queen. It's quite incredible how Ms Bishop can combine such dark and crude elements with comedy and sweet moments and everything still flows very well and at no time is it awkward. That makes Ms Bishop's writing the best thing about this book :)

My Grade: B+. I still like The Shadow Queen as much as before, especially for those cute and aww scenes. It is definitively a fun read, despite the very serious and dark undertones. I love Cassidy and Gray and I think Ms Bishop sets up the new trilogy very well with this book. At the same time, we get to re-visit older characters such as Daemon, Jaenelle and Saetan which is always fun. As in my previous review, I didn't care much about Daemon and Saetan's subplots, but still, it shows the readers different faces of these characters. At least, this time, they didn't completely overshadow the main storyline :)

Oh by the way, take a look at Anne Bishop's website. Seems like it's gotten a face lift :P