Home > fantasy, Genre > Book Review: Daughter of the Blood by Anne Bishop (series, #1)

Book Review: Daughter of the Blood by Anne Bishop (series, #1)

Girl holding glowing thing.Summary:
In this fantasy matriarchal land, people are ranked by their power based on what color jewels they are mystically assigned to wear when they come of age.  The darker the jewel, the better.  The women all have some sort of witchcraft power, but none have had the power of The Witch in hundreds of years.  Corrupt women have messed with the structure of society turning it from harmony to darkly using the men and women to their own advantage.  Men in particular are used by controlling them via a ring of obedience (placed around their penis).  Into this messed-up society the much waited for Witch is born, but most do not recognize her.  Lucky for her, the demon dead Saetan and his two living sons, Daemon and Lucivar, do.

This is what I would call high fantasy.  The only thing missing really is knights in shining armor.  A friend gave me this trilogy for my birthday as it is one of her favorite series, and she thought I would like it.  I can see why she thought I would like it.  It’s dark, graphically violent and sexual, and the choice to depict a messed-up matriarchy instead of patriarchy is unique.  Unfortunately I just couldn’t get into it.

First there’s the whole jewels and traveling on webs and wind and speaking on a soundwave that only people with that jewel can hear thing.  None of these things are ever particularly explained.  They just are.  Ok, so that probably works for fantasy fans, but I’m a logical, scifi reading lady.  I want explanations for things.  Also, how society fell apart is kind of massively unclear to me.  I’m not sure how things went from good to bad or what the properly functioning society is supposed to look like.  It’s all very confusing, and frankly, I can’t remember the order of the ranks of the jewels.  I just remember that gray is second-strongest and black is strongest.  But then later in the book some people say they’ve worked their way up to stronger jewels than their birthright.  Um, what?  When did that happen?  How can that happen?  If you can do that then why does your birthright jewel matter at all?  None of this makes any sense. Agh.

Then there’s the ring of obedience.  So they put this on violent males who are now sex slaves, apparently.  They serve witches.  The ring makes it so they can’t get a hard-on without pain.  But they don’t take the ring off for sex, which means these women are using sex slaves but never actually having intercourse. Who would want that?!  How does that make sense?  Also, Daemon can apparently pleasure women and tie them up just with his mind.  He can do this but he can’t get a ring off his dick?  This feels like badly-organized erotica.  Which would be fine if it was erotica, but it’s fantasy, so wtf Bishop.

So then we have Jaenelle, The Witch.  She’s eleven or twelve, I can’t remember exactly which.  Her family thinks she’s crazy because she’s super-powerful and travels around meeting mystical creatures and told them about it, which was a bad move.  She got sent to an asylum then brought home, and she’s been all Miss Mysterious Dark Eyes That Are Actually Gorgeous and Sapphire ever since.  This is the main mystery of the book.  That and the manly threesome trying to protect her from the big bad queen witches who want her dead.  So Daemon is working in her house and basically falls in love with her.  He’s never felt sexual desire for a witch before, but now he does.  He feels horrible that he feels it for one so young and vows to wait until she’s grown up enough to be with him, but he still feels it.

Then we *spoiler alert* find out the asylum is just a cover-up for pedophiles, and of course Jaenelle gets raped, and a good witch saves her, and Daemon and Saetan work together to try to save her, and in her mind she tells Daemon that he just wants her body just like everyone else, and he basically makes out with her in her mind to show her he wants to be her lover not hurt her.  This makes her come back to her body and heal it. Then she escapes to Saetan and Daemon escapes off to a brothel.

Can we just HOLD THE PHONE for a minute.  I am not at all against a pedophilia storyline or plot device.  These things happen in real life, so it’s ok for them to be in a story.  I do have a problem with the “good guy” having sexual feelings for an eleven or twelve year old when he’s literally centuries old.  He himself admits this is bad, but instead of going away from her, he makes out with her in her mind (when she’s in half-horse form no less).  I just….what.  What the what.  What am I supposed to think about this?  How am I supposed to feel about a book written by a woman in which the matriarchy basically abuses everyone and yet the men still wind up with most of the power (the manly threesome) over this young girl who is supposed to become the awesome ruler one day, and one of the guys has pedophilic feelings for her. WTF.*end spoilers*

I suppose it’s possible that Daemon is an anti-hero, and we’ll find that out later in the series.  That Jaenelle will triumph and prevail over everyone and fix everything.  We can only hope.  I do suspect that part of my issue with the book is just point-blank never feeling comfortable in the fantasy world Bishop lays out.  I just don’t do high fantasy.  When will I learn this?

That said, it does seem well-written, and I think if a fantasy fan can handle very dark and graphic violence, sex, and themes, they will probably enjoy this trilogy.

2.5 out of 5 stars

Source: Gift

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  1. C.M. Cipriani
    August 17, 2011 at 5:07 am

    This is one of my favorite series! But only the first three books, after that it just kinda becomes like fantasy romance, not really as dark. I didn’t have a problem (probably like your friend) just accepting the world as it is without a lot of explaination. Though now that you break into it with reality, I can see some of the issues.

    I still like it though 🙂

    • August 17, 2011 at 7:57 am

      Haha, my friend insists that I’m just too logical-minded for fantasy. I think she might be right. This is like my fifth attempt to enjoy a fantasy series, and I have yet to have it work.

      Although, I do have no issues with paranormal romance or urban fantasy. I think the key is that I don’t like a whole entire other realm that’s a fantasy world. I like a bit of grounding in reality. Like how Sookie still has to pay her bills, lol.

  2. bookish bella
    August 17, 2011 at 8:09 am

    Someone recommended this to me for the matriarchy and fantasy, but I hated it with a fiery passion. One of my least favorite books that I’ve ever read. I did have issues with the lack of explanation of the world, but primarily I just hated all the characters and everything they did. The pedophilia bit was particularly creepy. Also, having women be in charge only to show how evil and jealous and destructive they are negates any girl power aspects of the matriarchy.

    • August 17, 2011 at 9:04 am

      Yes yes yes!! I was completely shocked that a woman wrote such a disturbing matriarchy. Another reviewer (on GoodReads, I believe) pointed out that Jaenelle is supposed to be the girl power female heroine, but she is raped and relies almost entirely on men to help her. How is that empowering?

  3. January 30, 2014 at 4:08 am

    I love high fantasy. I love dark stories. But I’ve been trying to get into Daughter of the Blood for the last three nights and I’m just not. It’s too confusing and (I hate saying this because I’m not really prudish) too unnecessarily sexual.

  4. January 30, 2014 at 4:11 am

    I will just say this – don’t give up on high fantasy until you’ve read The Name of the Wind.

    • January 30, 2014 at 11:32 am

      I think there’s a difference between sexual and and a hero of the story being a pedophile. That for me was what sent it over the edge, anyway.

      Honestly, I’ve tried high fantasy quite a few times. It’s just not for me.

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