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Shalador's Lady by Anne Bishop

Shalador's Lady

by Anne Bishop

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6842322,023 (4.23)44
The Black Widows see visions that will change the land--and Lady Cassidy--forever even as she makes it her duty to restore the land and people of Shalador and prove her ability to rule.
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» See also 44 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
Honey Pear Trees

I loved this as usual. Anything Anne Bishop writes is pure gold. I love that Cassie was given a second chance to be a queen after her other court was stolen from her. It was hard to put up with the stupidity of Prince Greyhaven even after Cassie was able to unlock the spells that hid his family’s treasure. His oblivion towards Kermella was almost intolerable. I loved the honey pears and how they were found and am really looking forward to reading the next story. ( )
  bm2ng | Apr 9, 2019 |
Lady Cassidy is trying to be a good Queen for Dena Nahele except Theran Greyhaven is undermining her at every step. He isn't shy about his disappointment that she isn't prettier and more powerful. Fortunately the rest of her dozen sworn Warlords and Warlord Princes are much happier with her. So are the landen and the other people she rules over in Greyhaven.

She takes a trip to the Shalador Reserve in Eyota to meet more of the Shaladoran Queens and discovers a land parched and almost barren. She knows how to transfer her power to enrich the land but she has never dealt with a land so empty. She almost drains all of her power and shatters her jewels before her Court realizes what's happening and takes her away.

After she recovers, she returns to Greyhaven to find the she has a visitor. Lady Kermilla, the Queen who took her Court away from her and ruined her confidence, has come for a visit (and to demand that Cassidy give her money to run her Court). Cassidy tells her to leave but Theran takes one look at her and realizes that Kermilla is the Queen he has been waiting for to cure Dena Nehele. Cassidy is ready to give up and leave until her loyal Court convinces her to return to Eyota and take her Court - minus Theran, there.

The story splits viewpoints. We see Cassidy and her Court in Eyota, Theran dealing with Kermilla and Dena Nehele, and Kermilla who is self-absorbed, selfish, hedonistic, and has a major sense of entitlement. It was painful watching Theran making excuses for her and dealing with her very expensive tastes. The contrast with Cassidy and her behavior couldn't have been clearer.

This story also saw Gray finally maturing after the trauma he suffered at age fifteen. He picks wonderful role models and teachers in Saetan, Daemon, and Lucivar. I loved the scelties who came to Cassidy's Court to help and teach and herd their human sheep.

This was a very entertaining entry into the Black Jewels series. ( )
  kmartin802 | Jan 12, 2019 |
Originally posted on Tales to Tide You Over

I jumped into the Black Jewels series way late in the game (on the final book apparently), but thanks to an intriguing opening with enough information to risk being a data dump if it were less evocative, I was well grounded in the story world and the circumstances leading up to Shalador’s Lady. This is the story of a people who had been oppressed or stuck under vicious rulers for far too long, and that history resonates throughout the story.

The main characters’ culture is heavily sex obsessed, but not in an erotic way with the mature content mostly implied. While clearly intended for an adult/near adult audience between the sexual nature of their magic and some vicious things that happen, it is in no way a dark novel overall. The violence is well blended into the cultural form, and the sexual elements include all aspects from virgin crushes to pregnancy and risks. Their magic is tied to earthy natures, and less logic than pheromones (though not addressed in those terms), so it can lead them astray in loyalty or provoke them to serious violence.

The novel also contains tender and humorous moments that kept it from slipping into horror, but at the same time, they did not diminish the serious events. My biggest quibble is with how Kermilla could have been trained in Cassie’s first court and learned nothing of the balance, but it’s not a real quibble. I understand all too well how that can happened based on my experiences with humans, but wish I couldn’t. The girl is broken at the core.

It’s the cultures and world building that really won me over, or rather not just the cultures but the intersections between them. In this story, Shalador’s Lady is a lowborn queen (a designation of power rather than hereditary leadership) brought into a very traditional land to redeem them from the damage of twisted queens (power-mad and unaware of the nurturing aspects a balanced queen would have). Cassie is so different from those twisted queens that not all accept her in such an important role, looking for the trappings and failing to recognize her true connection with the land and its people. It’s a lovely bit of cultural expectation on top of pheromones that rings true even when, to the objective eye, Cassie’s value, and the lack in her opponent queen, is obvious. Cassie, though, is no more objective than any of them, seeing the same weaknesses in herself that undermine the loyalty of those around her, and not seeing her strengths because of her concerns with loyalty based on her troubled past.

Add to this issue the court being composed of those who have been denied their true place and lived in refugee camps in the mountains as they alternately hid and attacked the twisted queens. No one is quite sure how things are supposed to be run, but they all have firm ideas about it, and not just those in this land either. The influence of those who command all queens and their courts is felt, though often enough as requested advice or assistance rather than imposed from outside.

I also appreciated the non-human magic users both for being true to their natures as dogs and cats rather than humans cloaked in fur and for how the humans didn’t always see the meaning behind the jeweled collars they wore, dismissing them as limited because of their fur. They are full characters with important roles, but the dogs also offer many of the humorous moments where dog nature and human nature clash.

Bishop even brings in economics, crops, and the consequences of overtaxing, all blended into the story to show how things can go well or wrong depending on who is placed in charge. I love complex societies with rich histories. Shalador’s Lady has several, and many divisions between them based on history and prejudice so they feel real. I didn’t find any of it artificial or too carefully constructed. These were not characters who marched to the author’s drum but rather ones who lived in and around a solid framework but were able to make decisions, good or bad, that were well grounded in the world. The characters had room to succeed or fail, and to learn and grow, while the story arose from the world and stayed true to it.

As you might have guessed, I enjoyed this book immensely, and plan to seek out others in the series as well. ( )
  MarFisk | Jan 13, 2017 |
Plain, non-aristo Cassidy was given one year to restore Dena Nehele, a Territory that had been ruled by twisted Queens for centuries. Their reign of terror is finally at an end, but the scars remain, on the land and on the people. In [b:The Shadow Queen|3598830|The Shadow Queen (The Black Jewels, #7)|Anne Bishop|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1226637548s/3598830.jpg|3641533], she created a Court to help her rule and began the hard road to recovering Dena Nehele.

Just as her Court is settling down to work at demonstrating that they intend to restore honor and fair dealing to the Territory, Cassidy's old nemesis returns. Kermilla is pretty, aristocratic, and wields more powerful magic than Cassidy. Years before, she stole Cassidy's old Court and Territory from her. Now, she seems poised to do so again. And the visions of the Black Widows say that if Kermilla takes power, Dena Nehele will be plunged into war once more.

But of course she's not going to get power. Kermilla is pretty, but Cassidy is bffs with the HIGH LORD OF HELL, the Sadist, Luciver, and last but not least, the freaking LIVING MYTH of WITCH. Plus, her quiet honesty and kindness charm everyone around her, and every other page details how much all the other Warlords and Warlord Princes around her think she is just so wonderful. Kermilla, meanwhile, spends her days spending huge amounts of money, stealing from everyone, getting drunk, and making catty comments. Oh, and making sexy pout lips at men. That's seriously her biggest weapon--pouty lips. Even if I didn't know from the start that Kermilla would lose, because she is The Villain and Cassidy is The Heroine and this is an Anne Bishop novel, the fact that every single page talks about how no one likes Kermilla and everyone yearns to serve Cassidy might give me a clue. I have no idea why the Black Widows kept seeing these terrible visions, and I never had a single moment's fear for a single character.

The one thing I will say for the plot is that, in the Black Jewels trilogy, every single character was The Most Powerful Magic-user Ever, to the extent that Bishop had to start inventing more words for black just to come up with ways people could have darker jewels. Cassidy and Kermilla both have Light jewels, and so instead of the usual magic ex machinas we see two women struggling for power using political intriguing, legal documents and policy decisions. And Bishop deals a little with the effects of living in a constant warzone, where one's culture is outlawed. In a ham-handed sort of way, of course, but I'm still glad she's slowly showing recognition that her main characters aren't the only ones to have suffered great and terrible traumas. (Speaking of which, less rape in this book! In point of fact, very little talk of sexual violence at all, and no child rape! I think this is the least in a single book she's ever managed. Well done, Bishop!)

This is not a good book. The dialog is stilted and unnatural, the Sceltie (magical talking dogs, oh yes you heard me right) are deeply annoying, the characters are each and every one of them idiots, and unlike the Black Jewels trilogy, there's no undercurrent of darkness and passion. And yet, I tore through this book in a single afternoon, forgoing all other books I got out of the library. ( )
  wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |
Shalador's Lady continues with Lady Cassidy's story which is why I had to review both books together. It also ends it very nicely! Cassidy and her loyal Warriors move the court from Grayhaven to Shalador after Theron refuses to throw his guest out of the manor, and steadily the surrounding lands start to prosper. Soon the whole of Dena Nehele is looking up to Lady's Cassidy and wants to be under her rule while Theron's stupidity is slowly driving everyone away from him and out of his city.

Great books, I really enjoyed them both. Recommended! ( )
  kara-karina | Nov 20, 2015 |
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As tales of the new Queen's heart and courage spread through the Territory of Dena Nehele, the Black Widows felt something tremble through the land.
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