Series: The Black Jewels #3
Published: 1 January, 2000 by Roc
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Queen of the Darkness is the concluding volume of the Black Jewels Trilogy by Anne Bishop. In the previous books, we see a matriarchal society that has become twisted and dysfunctional, where the leaders abuse their power, harm those in their care, and poison the very fabric of society. It’s a very clear parallel and warning about patriarchal society, and by flipping the genders from our own world, it’s a lot easier to point out how things have gone wrong and how abusive power dynamics hurt everyone.
In Queen of the Darkness, the forces that have shaped the world have finally built up to the point of a confrontation. The characters from the first book that have been scattered throughout the world all begin to have their paths converge again. Jaenelle is attended by her adoptive father Saetan, her adoptive brother Lucifer, and her lover Daemon, as well as the friends and family whom she has found along the way who managed not to become corrupted. I was very excited that Daemon is finally back in the main storyline rather than being off on the side quest of madness and guilt, because I enjoy his character so much and he really gets to shine in this book.
Queen of the Darkness was a great ending to the trilogy. We see Jaenelle come to the realization that she has to use her powers to cauterize and heal the world and its magical bloodlines from a darkness and terror that has been building for generations. And she’s very clearly preparing to sacrifice herself in the process, which is something she’s struggled with in the previous books. But we also see her friends, family, and lover work together to try to create a future where Jaenelle can survive and someday be made whole again. And the whole book is a slow build toward that ending and it makes you want to scream and grieve and still hope and trust in the characters you’ve grown to love. And that’s what a good book does.
I’m so glad that I decided to give The Black Jewels another chance. When I read the first book over a decade ago, it wasn’t the right time in my life for it. This time it was, and I devoured the trilogy. It’s stuck with me and I’ve spent so much time thinking about it. It’s dark and thoughtful and whimsical and violent and hopeful. Jaenelle is a beam of sunshine in a world marked so deeply by systemic violence and cruelty that in the beginning of the series you wonder if it’s even redeemable.