Series: The Black Jewels #2
Published: 1 April, 1999 by Roc
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Note: this post will contain some minor plot spoilers for Daughter of the Blood, because it’s hard to talk about book two in this particular series without giving away the ending of the previous book.
Throughout Daughter of the Blood, we followed the story of Jaenelle, a child who was born with inconceivable magical power. Jaenelle came from an abusive home, and nobody around her recognized her power for what it was because she didn’t fit into the same mold as other powerful people around her. But Jaenelle was able to briefly escape as she traveled between worlds using her magic and befriending all sorts of beings during the course of her adventures. But Jaenelle lives in a cruel world, and the book ends with a brutal rape that Jaenelle barely survives. When Heir to the Shadows begins, she is still in a coma, and we see the characters from the first book respond to the tragedy.
Saetan is playing the role of a doting father, and takes Jaenelle to safety for her to recover. Daemon doesn’t escape Jaenelle’s rescue unscathed, and so he thinks she’s dead. He blames himself for failing to protect her, and his guilt drives him mad. He’s left to wander the Twisted Kingdom of madness, with no grasp on reality or awareness of the world around him. And this was interesting, because Daemon was my favorite character for the first book, but in Heir to the Shadows, he’s notably absent.
When Jaenelle awakens, she doesn’t remember what happened to her. She knows that she is safe and that she is happy, but she’s totally repressed all of her recent memories, to the point that she doesn’t even remember Daemon. But her will and her powers remain unbroken. Much of Heir to the Shadows feels like a montage of Jaenelle growing up, bringing her friends to form her new court, and very slowly having her worldview changed as she begins to realize how corrupt the world around her has become. Now that she’s been removed from her abusive family, she has a chance to thrive. And Saetan is walking the line between trying to protect Jaenelle and give her a real childhood, and trying to help her become the Queen that she’s meant to be as she grows into her powers.
Meanwhile, Saetan’s other son Lucivar escapes the salt mines where he has been enslaved, and he is drawn back to Jaenelle. And because Lucivar has seen and endured a lot over the years, he is the most well-positioned to help Janelle work through her trauma as she regains her memories and tries to rescue Daemon before he progresses so far into the Twisted Kingdom that there’s no hope of return.
Heir to the Shadows at times feels like a filler book; its story isn’t as linear as Daughter of the Blood, and much of the book is spent waiting for Jaenelle to get her memories back and grow into adulthood. But at the same time, it has a lot of deep thematic content. Most of the main characters in the book have a lot of baggage and trauma, and this is a book about processing that trauma and beginning to heal. And healing isn’t an easy or quick process, and I appreciate that the author doesn’t trivialize it. The trauma and healing that Jaenelle, Daemon, and Lucivar have to go through mirrors the healing that has yet to take place on a larger scale in the world of the Black Jewels, and I’m looking forward to seeing adult Jaenelle try to fix a broken society and restore a healthier order.