Monday, July 28, 2008

“The Invisible Ring” by Anne Bishop

In a world where magic is power and social status is everything, the color of the jewel you wear determines the course of your life…

Jared is a Red-Jeweled Warlord bound as a pleasure slave by the Ring of Obedience. After suffering nine years of torment as a slave, he murdered his owner and escaped—only to be caught and sold into slavery once again. The notorious queen who has purchased him, known as the Gray Lady, may not be what she seems. Soon, Jared faces a difficult choice: his freedom, or his honor…
The Invisible Ring is a welcome addition to Anne Bishop’s Black Jewels universe. The story occurs an indeterminate time prior to the events of the Black Jewels Trilogy. Dorothea, a Black Widow and High Priestess of Hyall is seeking to solidify her control of Terreille and all of the surrounding territories. The Grey Lady is a rival grey-jeweled Queen and one of the few that stands against her.

Dorothea sets Lord Krelis, her Master of Guards the task to capture or kill the Grey Lady. The plan is to ambush the Grey Lady during her annual trip to Raej to purchase slaves. Jared, a red-jeweled Warlord and Queen-killer is bought along with a motley crew of other slaves, one of which unknown to the Grey Lady is a spy for Dorothea. Circumstances conspire and the traveling group constantly evade Krelis’ clutches even though they are unaware they are being targeted. For Jared and the Grey Lady it is both a harrowing physical journey and a life-defining passage of personal discovery.

You don’t have to have read any other Black Jewels stories to appreciate this fine standalone effort. Daemon a main character from the Trilogy puts in a minor cameo appearance. At heart this is a great love story and a grand quest. The magical system, culture and gender roles rank among the most original and imaginative in fantasy. This is very much a “can’t put it down” reading experience leading to a desire for more…more…more… Fortunately another Black Jewels tale is planned for next year called The Shadow Queen.

Read the Prologue and first few Chapters here.

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