Fans of Bishop's Black Jewels trilogy have been eagerly anticipating this story collection, which features four new tales of the witch Jaenelle, and the history of the mystical Blood realm. The short opening story, "Weaver of Dreams," reveals the origin of the powerful jewels, while "The Prince of Ebon Rih" tells of the forbidden passion shared by Lucivar, the winged Eyrien warlord, and his housekeeper, a simple hearth witch.

A clash between Saetan, High Lord of Hell, and a priestess may change the nature of the Blood realm forever, in "Zuulaman." And in "Kaleer's Heart," Jaenelle's sacrifice of her Black Jewels to save her realm may have destroyed her hope of happiness with the near-immortal Daemon.

Bishop's innovative and intense fantasy land isn't for everyone. In the Blood realm, magical strength is in a person's Jewels, and darkness is honored as the source of power. These tales are graphic and can be grisly; violence and sex are powerful and frequent tools here.

In lesser hands this setting could be merely an excuse for graphic violence and sexual power games, but Bishop's talent brings the world to life and creates characters who will intrigue, outrage and captivate the reader. While this volume is best suited for those already familiar with the series, fans of Jaqueline Carey's Kushiel novels and Christine Feehan's dark heroes should definitely check out the Black Jewels books. (Jan., 448 pp., $16.00)
Reviewed by: 
Jen Talley Exum