Science fiction and fantasy                                            

Dreams Made Flesh

by Anne Bishop


After the events of Queen of the Darkness it seemed as though there would be no reason to return to the Black Jewels universe. But some characters are too compelling to let lie. Dreams Made Flesh is a series of stories built largely around the central characters of the first three books: Saetan, Daemon, Lucivar and Jaenelle. It also brings some of the minor characters to the fore and fleshes out their histories.

Dreams Made Flesh is a series of four stories, rather than a novel. Weaver of Dreams is a short story that takes place in the early past of the Black Jewels universe. It's about a small golden spider, an ordinary spider who finds an unusual prey in her web. This sets the scene for the rest of the book as well as dramatising the back story in a poignant and unusual way.

The Prince of Ebon Rih tells us about Marian, a hearth witch who is neither powerful nor aristocratic. She is betrayed by her own father and is brought by Jaenelle to Ebon Rih. This relatively straightforward romance is no less powerful because we already know how it turns out.

Whilst The Prince of Ebon Rih is sensual and passionate, Zuulaman is more sombre. It deals with an episode in Saetan's past, when he was still married to Hekatah. The territory of Zuulaman wants to impose punitive taxes on the nearby territory of Dhemlan, which is under Saetan's protection. Hekatah, pregnant with their third child, is anxious to secure more funding for the rest of her debt-ridden family. We find out what lengths she is prepared to go to in order to achieve her aims.

Kaeleer's Heart is the only story set after Queen of the Darkness. Jaenelle is slowly healing, but the loss of her magic is proving to be a difficult adjustment for some to make. There are those who are jealous of her relationship with Daemon, who would rather they were not together. This is another love story, but it's not without its moments of brutality as well. The world of the Blood is as red in snake-tooth and claw as it ever was.

Dreams Made Flesh doesn't often deal directly with the story arc of the original trilogy, so there isn't the same uncertainty or sense of foreboding in this book. There are no entirely unexpected twists, but these stories are bursting with feeling. Anne Bishop builds up the intensity and plays on the emotions of her readers like a virtuoso. The theme of the struggle for status and the occasional statement that "males serve" remind us of the undercurrent of feminist and political thought that runs through Dreams Made Flesh. The hierarchy of society may be based on a caste and jewels system that people are born to, but for all that our heroes are surprisingly egalitarian and see their position as a duty of care rather than a privilege. However, the serious messages behind these stories don't diminish the fact that this is escapist entertainment, cathartic and thoroughly enjoyable.

Book Details

Year: 2005

Categories: Books


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4 star rating

Review © Ros Jackson
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