Shalador's Lady

Reviewer: Katherine Ray

Author: Anne Bishop

Published: 2010

Reviewed: 2010-06-27

Publisher: Roc

Anne Bishop wrote a trilogy called "The Black Jewels Triolgy" along
with a number of same-universe books: "The Invisible Ring," "Tangled
Webs," "Dreams Made Flesh," "The Shadow Queen," and now "Shalador's
Lady." "The Invisible Ring" is a prequel, "Dreams Made Flesh" is four
short stories taking place before and during the trilogy, and the
other three take place after the trilogy.

Bishop is good at depicting the interactions of the good guys with the
other good guys. They're playful, they snipe at each other, get
worried, storm off, organize picnics, unite to save the world, and all
that good stuff. She's a miserable failure at depicting bad guys,
though. She tends to make them too evil, but this is a common failing
in authors and can be excused. You can just skip the chapters where
the bad guys are saying "Bwhahahah, look at how evil I am, hahaha,
look at my clever plan" unless you like that sort of thing. I suppose
it's a sort of Hitchcockian maneuver in the form of "if you want to
build suspense, don't just have the bomb go off, show the audience the
bomb." It's just that the execution of that ploy in these books isn't
that good.

Bishop does do some things quite well. She has set up a rather nice
magic system, and the trilogy is an exercise in answering the
question: how do you manage friendships and family when you are
ridiculously powerful? "Shalador's Lady" has some good parts about
how they are rebuilding a town that has been poor for centuries, and
the good guy-good guy interactions are as fun to read as in the
trilogy. But there's a major problem with "Shalador's Lady" (and
"Tangled Webs" and "The Shadow Queen" for that matter), and this
problem has to do with the ending of the trilogy. If you're going to
read this series, you really shouldn't read "Shalador's Lady" first,
you should read "Daughter of the Blood" (trilogy book 1). After you
have 1) read the trilogy, 2) decided you're never going to read the
trilogy, or 3) decided you don't care if you know the resolution of
the trilogy, then you should read the rest of the review.

****************************** SPOILER ******************************

At the end of the trilogy they kill off all the bad guys.
Definitionally. If you were bad, you died. So the three books
written after the trilogy have the problem of having no convincing
dilemma. In order to make there be a dilemma, Bishop has her
characters behave stupidly and make mountains out of molehills. She
also takes people that she knows aren't bad the way they were in the
trilogy and smears them with the characterization "Bwhahaha, I'm
evil... I mean greedy, I mean lazy, I mean stupid... umm...." The
most terrible thing a person who has trouble writing subtle
antagonists could do to herself is make subtle antagonists the only
believable ones left in the world because all the unsubtle ones are