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.)
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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