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The Toybox

people for the conservation of limited amounts of indignation

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books: shalador's lady redux
children of dune - leto 1
This is random, but I was re-reading Shalador's Lady by Anne Bishop--and tried to decide if there was a colonial aspect to Cassidy going to Dena Nehele, and I have thought on this but most of them are mixed on the race issue, since from my first reading I assumed that the long lived races, or at least most of them, weren't white*, whereas the short lived races very much are, and nothing I've read since has contradicted that--okay, I went off topic, but people who read this, or hey, want to go read the series real fast? You can do that. I can wait for an answer.

What the hell happened to Falonar?

Anne Bishop is not exactly subtle with her anvils, nor does she have characters change type. Cassandra, Luthvian, Theran, even Jaenelle's birth family, the few other vaguely hostile characters weren't bad. I mean, you knew who the bad people were. They were the ones castrating people and raping people. Or they were like Roxy, Kernilla et al who probably would end up like that eventually but weren't there yet.

...I need to get off this italics kick soon. But that's one of the things that get across fairly fast. You don't have to worry about liking the wrong character. You really could not like the bad characters. Even with a lot of effort.

Falonar as introduced in The Queen of the Darkness was not a bad guy and became Surreal's lover. By Dreams Made Flesh, the third story in there (I think?), they'd broken up because he was interested in Nurian the healer, and there were bruised feelings.

I re-read to see if I missed something, but people, I've almost memorized these books, okay? I did not see the transition there. Did something happen in Tangled Web that by some insane chance I missed?

Okay, now just regular squee.

One thing Anne Bishop does really well is make sure there's always something interesting happening, and it's not always Territory changing things, but especially in the Cassidy novels, the normal day to day routines of a court and its queen. In my earlier review, I talked about how much I loved that all these people are not superpowered, and why that works here, works brilliantly, and why I think Dena Nehele/Shalador Nehele needed a less powerful queen.

After re-reading, I'm even more convinced that a powerful queen or a lot of dark jeweled anybodies would have been disastrous for the people living there. Even now, Jaenelle and most of her (former) First Circle are superpowered in Territories that in general need that because they have a lot of dark jeweled people in them. They need the power to be equal to or greater than the people they rule, and their Territories are built around the fact of a lot of people being opal or above. Their lives are built around it, in fact.

Throwing Jaenelle to Dena Nehele would be the equivalent of moving, say, the population of fifteenth century London into current time New York. Not only are the people completely unable to figure out how to catch up with five hundred years of change, they don't have the context to understand it and they'd have no idea how to do anything or have the tools, either by education or by simply growing up there, to fit into current time New York.

With less power, Cassidy has to lead by both doing and by showing and by teaching others to do what she can't. She literally can't do everything for them, whereas it would be hard for Jaenelle not to and if she didn't, it would breed resentment from the people she ruled.

Whereas Cassidy's court, the distribution of labor also assures that everyone has a job to do, a necessary job, that they'll pass to other courts and other queens.

(This is where I stumbled on my colonialism thoughts and tried to decide if Cassidy coming to Dena Nehele could be considered a type of colonialism, and I think yes, but without disempowering the people who live there (I'm not sure how much difference it makes that she was invited by a member of the Territory, or that the people of Dena Nehele had once lived by Blood rules and wanted to return to that; again, this social structure really--complicated). To me--and I am willing to be corrected on this one if I'm off base on interpretation--she's less there to save them, or bring the enlightenment of Blood society to the savages as be a living, breathing toolbox for them to use to build their Territory. There's also the fact that the actual work to get the Territory functional again, the ways they go about rebuilding first the village and then the provinces are carried out exclusively by the native population.

This is the kind of thing I come up with at two in the morning, okay? Just go with it. A lot of it came from the fact that the Kaeleer queens aren't permitted to intervene in any way, and interestingly, the only time Kaeleer intervenes is indirect and at specific request of people who live in the Territory.)

The Blood

You know, the more I read about the Blood, the more I wonder about their social structure literally being genetic.

Caste isn't imposed by society but by literal what you can do from birth (exception; black widows, which someone can be either born or trained into, which makes me wonder how non-born black widows get that snakes' tooth thing. Is there a ceremony? How does that work?). It's fluid in that the leadership comes from any social class and any jewel level as related to caste; a Queen can be born white jeweled into a tanner's family and still has the biological imperative and equal opportunity to rule, and social class is completely irrelevant to that. That doesn't mean there isn't classism--oh, there is and it's covered in here as well--but Anne Bishop, as pointed out above, isn't ambiguous. In general, people who give a shit about social class are like, evil or in the ambiguous good category.

The entire caste of Warlord Princes is another thing entirely that I'm not entirely sure I know how to interpret; with a literal genetic imperative to serve (men who do not feel this are unnatural and weird and, you know, evil), who have the equivalent of a bond-at-first-sight with the Queen they are supposed to serve that is entirely separate from their sexual relationships or marriages or friendships, and who are violent and irrational by nature and if they wear dark jewels, can't be and shouldn't be trusted unless they serve a Queen, and go into heat regularly and must have violent sex with someone that can end badly (but if the Warlord Prince is emotionally attached, which it is implied that he should be to a lover, then it's just superhot).

The Blood are supposed to be separate from the Landen by their power, which is true, and their natures, which is also true, but it's in that they are less (as normally defined) human because of it, with genetic and biological hardwiring that's pretty much identical to how animal social structures exist. Or this: the Landens without the Blood could develop a democracy, a monarchy, an oligarchy, a new political/social structure of pretty much any kind they thought up. The Blood are severely limited by their own biology, and any alternate they might want to develop has to take into account their own hardwiring before it even got as far as political philosophy.

Like, IDK, bees that can think? I mean, sure, if we had some self-aware, intelligent bees that could exercise free will, they couldn't just set up like, elections in the hive one day just for the fuck of it; they'd have to accommodate the fact that certain types of bees literally can only do certain things, and--

Wait. Are the Blood bees?

Seriously, are the Blood bees? *blank* That can't be right.

In case you, too, want to know the answer, hey, Anne Bishop's page on Amazon! Yes, I really want everyone in the universe to read these so there are more people to talk to about them. THEY MIGHT BE HUMAN BEES!


* I'm using 'non-white' instead of POC because I'm not sure it's appropriate in the way this fantasy series was introduced and developed, since it is really different in pretty much everything in how their societies are structured and arranged.

If using POC would be more appropriate or if 'non-white' is in any way offensive, please tell me and I'll make the change immediately. I had POC first, but since this fantasy doesn't follow anything even close to the white European medieval fantasy model (or the social structure of pretty much anything I've ever read or heard of in my life), and POC is, at least on LJ, a identification term that also has political/social history and connotations, I didn't want to take the term lightly or misuse its real life meaning in context of a fantasy series.

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Whatever happened to/with Falonar is going to be addressed in the next Black Jewels story collection, according to the author's website. (I think, I read that weeks ago because I was likewise 'wtf' while reading Shalador's Lady.) My theory is that the ambition that was hinted at during his intro went very bad somewhere between him and Surreal breaking it off and Cassidy's intro.

I agree with your theory about why Cassidy is the perfect queen for the Dena/Shalador Nehele area (if only Theran had taken the hints) and am interested in thoughts on the drawbacks to the otherwise awesome Blood position.

Oh good, an explanation would be very welcome, because I read Shalador's Lady and went "huh" at it, then re-read all of them together and went "wtf?!".

I think only the natural Black Widows get the snake tooth; the trained ones just learn how to weave webs and shit. I've read something like the first five of these books, but I'm vaguely curious about the others. They're trashy romancey D/S-bent fantasy books just this side of bodice-ripping (not judging, really, just not my usual taste) but GOD the worldbuilding.

IDK if the Blood really equate to bees (I... I just think of bee-dancing and then I lose it; do the Warlord Princes dance to communicate where the Queens can be found?) but outside of the biological imperatives of caste, I think of it as some kind of feudal thing not unlike Japan pre-Meiji restoration or something.

Romancey bdsm with canonical types of cockrings. I mean, sometimes I stop and admire Bishop for the sheer wtfery of casually tossing that in.

I'm not sure you can call it colonialism since it was a return to a structure that had existed before everything went to hell in a hand bask. However the parallels between the Shaldonrans = Native Americans wasn't exactly the subtlest thing in the world. On the other hand the "oh this other culture/art/rituals is so much better, let the old ways die" trope you usually see never appeared. In fact the exact opposite happened where the Shaladorans were given access to works of art that had been presumably lost for ever. I find it hard to get a read on that stuff in her books, since she seems to merrily set down upon the old way then half way there dumps everything sideways and says "Ha! Deal with that!"

As for Falonar, there are two things I keep in mind for this. One nothing in these books will ever overshadow the abrupt arrival of Marion for me. I get that she wanted Damian to think Lucivar had gotten the girl so to speak, but to the reader there was no hint of this coming. At the end of Heir to the Shadows you leave Lucivar healing from his past, but still, at best, ambivalent towards women, and completely apathetic towards in sex. We get to Queen of the Darkness, only seven years later, and he's married, w/a kid, to a women we have never meet at any point in these books. And yes she went into the back story later in Dreams Made Flesh. I'm also sure the decision was rooted in practicalities of the rhythm and pacing of the story, and the fact that would easily have added 100 pages to the novel, but at the time it was extremely jarring to me to have that much critical information breezed over like that. After that sudden jump - 180's in her books are seriously not unexpected.

Two, Falonar, could simply have just screwed up. Frankly if Theron had been living in Kaeleer, he'd probably be dead in 6 months. Not because he's evil or bad, just really thick and stupid about certain things. And with the level of violence this society seems to live at, being a social retard seems to be the easiest way into an early grave. It had been mention several times in the trilogy that some of the immigrants just didn't make it because they didn't understand the rules as well as they thought they did. Janelle mention something like 50% (I'm guessing so I could be wrong) of the immigrants that came to Kaeleer died, which is why making service to a Queen became a condition of staying. That is an awfully high attrition rate, and I doubt that all of those people were rapists and murderers.

As for the caste, I think any women can train to be a priestess or a healer. I'm sure some have a natural aptitude for healing, but it didn't seem as if there was any distinctions in scent mentioned for either of those positions, like a Queen or a Black Widow. As for the snake tooth, I think trained ones can acquire it. Satean had one and he sure as hell was not a natural born black widow. So my take is, the only thing that you actually have to born to, as far as women go, is Queen. My question in this falls more to the men side. What the hell is the difference between a Warlord and a Prince? And why are Warlord Princes, and Princes both referred to with the title "Prince"? Doesn't that get confusing?

It's been a long time since I've read the books (and only the original trilogy); but I recall thinking that the women were also born to their positions as Black Widow and Priestess, they just didn't have a defining scent. The scent is part of what makes a Queen a Queen. I thought Saeten having a snake tooth was because he's a powerful enough Warlord Prince that he's like a male Queen (he and Damian both, which is why they need to bond with Witch, not just a Queen). I wasn't exactly reading the books with analysis in mind-there's so much info to absorb to follow the story that it can be hard to keep up, at first!

That attrition rate is awful, indeed. I wonder what their birth rate is like, to make up some numbers-and if the next generation are any smarter or more socially adaptable...Darwinism, done human bee-style.

I don't think it would be confusing to the Blood themselves to call both Princes and Warlord Princes by the same title. They can tell which the men in question are without the titles-it comes across as "sir" to me.

(Deleted comment)
It had its moments, yeah. I enjoyed it, but it's not one of my frequent re-reads.

I've only read the original trilogy, so I'm not up on most of what you're talking about. But my first thought on the colonialism question is that not all effects of colonialism were bad-ending sutee and footbinding, for example, and getting roads and various other infrastructure built. It sounds like a less-powerful queen ruling a lighter-jeweled people would be beneficent colonialism.

I always thought it was interesting, that a queen didn't have to be magically powerful to be a good ruler. It's both a biological response to her own biology that spurs obedience; but also a biological response to her character, as well. A bad queen would get some obedience, but not as much, and not as well, by not-as-good people.


Edited at 2010-06-30 09:46 am (UTC)


Yes, with the queen, yes. I love these books actually show how that would work, and why.


I've only read the books/novellas on Jaenelle, so from what I can remember, Saetan belongs to a long lived race that has golden skin and black hair (and gold eyes?), while Jaenelle's biological family are short-lived and look entirely white European.

On a tangent: does that mean Jaenelle dies waaaaay before Daemon's even lived out half of his life span? Because that is going to get ugly.

I've only read the books/novellas on Jaenelle, so from what I can remember, Saetan belongs to a long lived race that has golden skin and black hair (and gold eyes?), while Jaenelle's biological family are short-lived and look entirely white European.

Close; his son Damon is golden or golden-brown skin (I guess from his ancestry from his mother Tersa?); Saitan (I think!) is usually described with brown or dark brown skin (or golden brown, possibly).

And they wear leather pants. Thank you Anne Bishop. Thank you very much.

Yeah, Jaenelle and Karla are blondes and Cassie's a redhead from the short-lived races.

On a tangent: does that mean Jaenelle dies waaaaay before Daemon's even lived out half of his life span? Because that is going to get ugly.

It's actually referred to in Shalador's Lady. I totally flinched.

I kind of want to read these books now... must try to read these ones in order

In order is definitely best. They throw a lot of info at you quickly, in terms of world-building; but if you just go with it, thing clear up and get fascinating ~fast. :D

As a child, I habitually re-read Lloyd Alexander's Prydain Chronicles, Patricia C. Wrede's Enchanted Forest Quartet, and Diane Duane's Young Wizards series. As an adult, I re-read Anne Bishop. I have no idea what that says about me, but I think it probably says something.

The thing I remember most about Falonar is that in Queen of the Darkness, Lucivar had issues with him because of their past history. It was stated that Lucivar and Falonar were going after the same female (I'm presuming a Queen) and it was stated that Falonar won and became the ruling Warlord Prince, while Lucivar got sold into slavery. And although Falonar passed Jaenelle's screening into Kaeleer, there is a distinct taint about his character from the get-go (IMO).

with a literal genetic imperative to serve

I'm not sure I agree with you 100% on this. The way I see it, the Warlord Princes have an imperative to be a law-unto-themselves, but they will always (barring the crazy) respond to a strong Queen of whatever jewel-rank, and sometimes just a female in general. There's a bit where Lucivar is about to fly off the handle during a Jhinka attack, but he's redirected into pumping water for an injured female... which makes him comment to the woman that it was clear she'd been trained on how to handle dark-jeweled Blood males.

In QotD, too, Daemon makes the observation that when Lucivar is pissed, he's out chopping firewood; when, in another time and another place, he would've set off a fight that would've left corpses in his wake. So for me, they're not so much hard-wired to serve, it's that their power/aggression can be easily channeled into service (and service is the least-destructive outlet for them).

I haven't re-read any of the Cassidy novels, so my memory's a bit blurry on events in those books. But I agree that Cassidy is the perfect fit. From a writerly standpoint, Bishop's already done the cosmic-power-can-do-anything angle. Naturally, the next step is to write about someone with very little power and show how following Protocol and doing the Right Thing is just as important and useful as having a bunch of psychic strength.

Plus, too, unless the ruling Queen were one of Jaenelle's First Circle Queens, there just aren't that many dark-jeweled females. (Which was the reason why Dorothea came to power. Although, I forget which realm Dena Nehele/Shalador Nehele is in, but I think the same principle applies.) So naturally, any surviving queens who aren't already in Jaenelle's First Circle, are going to be weaker.

As for your theory about Bees.... :D Yes, I could definitely see the comparisons. However... as the BJT-verse has flowers, etc. I imagine those flowers also need pollinators. It is very possible that the BJT-verse already has bees. And, as we've seen with the wolves and Arcerian cats, spiders, some horses, and some dogs -- animals can be Blood too. So there may already be Blood bees in the world already. And what are they like, I wonder. Now, according to Saetan's theory, the Blood's powers are descended from the dragons. So, it is possible that the castes (Queen, Warlord Prince, Priestess, etc.) are a holdover from the castes of dragons. Which now begs the question, in our world, are bees descended from dragons?

"...the Warlord Princes have an imperative to be a law-unto-themselves, but they will always (barring the crazy) respond to a strong Queen of whatever jewel-rank, and sometimes just a female in general."

Yes, that was true. They need a Queen to serve for their own best mental and emotional health; but they responed to women in general. But serving a bad one twisted them up inside, because they weren't doing it right-it was blunting everything they were, so to speak.

I always got the impression that despite Damian and Lucivar going through so much torment, it was less the pain that damaged them than the need to serve a Queen who was strong/good enough for them, so they could ~be who they were, being denied.

Perhaps the Blood and any putative Blood bees are descended from a common ancestor? lol

Have any of you read the side BJ novel, "The Invisible Ring"? I loved that one, and you can really see the Queen/male interaction well in that one. :D

Saetan's Snake Tooth

I asked Anne Bishop the same question about Daemon being a natural black widow, whereas Saetan was not. She said that he got a snake tooth implant. Don't ask me where it come from....but that is essentially how a non-natural black widow gets a tooth.

I could not help myself.

My love has no words but a lot of squee.

*dies laughing*

That. Is. Awesome.

Coming back to this, since I'm passing it on the way, lol...I belong to beekeeping. I was fascinated to find out from the members there that bees can remember who pissed them off and hold ~grudges!

I mean, who'd have thought? Such tiny little brains, and they KNOW who's ass they wanna swarm for revenge! 0.0

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