The Queen’s Bargain by Anne Bishop
Book #10 in the Black Jewels Series
Published by Ace (10th March 2020)
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My rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Revisiting the worlds of the Black Jewels, we meet Dillon, a young Warlord Prince who just wants to have the opportunity to serve in a reputable court under a fair Queen. His reputation is shredded however when he mistakes the motives of a young witch who just wanted him for a bit of fun. Jumping from place to place, he needs to find a young woman to handfast and he has set his sights on a young Eryien Witch in the town of Ebon Rih. He believes that she only has slight connections to the aristo society that has ruined him, but soon finds out that she is so much more when he ends up in Lucivar Yaslana’s sight – The Warlord Prince of Ebon Rih.
At the same time, Surreal’s marriage to Daemon Sadi – The Warlord Prince of Dhemlan – is falling to pieces, Daemon can sense that something is wrong but doesn’t realise that his own need to keep his real nature under control is causing him greater harm than what shows on the surface. If Daemon’s mind breaks again, the realm of Kaeleer is in grave danger. The only being that can save them is someone who no longer exists in any of the realms, she is the only Queen powerful enough to be able to help Daemon, and control his nature, the Queen known as Witch.
When I first discovered that this book was being released, I felt like all of my wishes had been answered at once. I first read the Black Jewels series around twelve years ago, I was introduced to them by a work colleague who touted it as her all time favourite series. At first, I didn’t get it, it was an incredibly confusing and extremely brutal world with cruel characters, and I had no idea how to keep it all straight. Once I finished the first book, I had a small need to know what happened next, by the time I was halfway through the second book, I was undoubtedly hooked, and I now proudly say that this series is my all time favourite. I recommend it to any book reader that I meet, it is my ultimate. After the events of Twilight’s Dawn, I believed the series to be complete and finished, Bishop had stated in the FAQ part of her website that she may revisit the world at some stage, but she couldn’t say for certain as at the time, the character’s stories were complete. So not only did we get another Black Jewels universe book, but it had to do with all of the amazing characters that I came to know and love.
This book took me a little while to get through, and I think in part it was because I didn’t want it to be over. I’ll admit, when I closed that back cover yesterday, I did go into a little bit of a depressive funk, I’m not sure if it was because, for now, the Black Jewels universe is done, or because life is crazy hectic at the moment with everything going on. But I shed some tears. I also had some happy bittersweet tears at a piece of dialogue in the last quarter of the book. In short, this book just made me feel ALL OF THE FEELINGS AND I JUST WAS NOT READY! But I was ready, because I’ve been waiting TEN ODD YEARS FOR THIS! It’s just a whirlwind of emotions, what can I say.
There were two story lines happening here. One deals with Dillon and his descent into Arseholery as he is turned nasty by the aristo bitches that torment him and won’t let him start fresh anywhere. So he’s not ENTIRELY to blame, but he still made some shitty choices. The other story line deals with tension between Surreal and Daemon. I found Surreal in this book to be a lot different to the Surreal I was used to, and it wasn’t in a good way, the only reason that this didn’t make my rating lower is because, to be honest, Surreal was never a favourite character of mine. She was a good character, but she didn’t really do much for me. I was surprised with how unlike herself she seemed in this instalment though. She was making assumptions about Daemon which I felt was very uncharacteristic for her and it did annoy me a little because she KNOWS this man, yet she was acting as though she didn’t know him as well as she did (if that makes sense?). I don’t understand why she wasn’t just being straight with him. Everyone else was the same characters that I’ve always loved, though I’ll admit, I did miss Saetan in this one, I absolutely adored him. The new generations of scelties are hilarious, and I just wanted to cuddle Morghaan. I love that we got to know Jillian a bit more, though to be honest, I feel like I need to re-read the series (again) because I couldn’t remember meeting her before.
Lucivar and Daemon’s overpowered selves always make me giddy with glee when they show their true colours to those who have no idea what they’re dealing with. It’s something that I love about this series, and this instalment didn’t disappoint. I wanted to throttle certain characters on a few separate occasions, but what’s a good book without that, hey?
One thing that I liked was that the story was completed, but there were certain things that were left open enough that Bishop can revisit the world again, which makes me excited because I just love the Black Jewel Universe so much. We saw that the cruelness that befell Terrielle still lives in some aristos and in turn leaves room for some new stories to come out of it. I miss some of the old characters but I still absolutely adored reading about the ones still around.
There’s not much that I can say about this book that won’t ruin things for people who have read the series before, or haven’t FINISHED reading the series. So I’ll leave it there.
All in all, the story was fulfilling, I loved reading about these characters again and I loved revisiting the world. It makes me want to re-read the series from the beginning.