Caveat: I do get on my soap box with this post...
When Twilight's Dawn was released last year I, like others, became caught up in the furore over one of the novellas - The High Lord's Daughter. At the time I decided not to read it, so I put it to one side on my library hold list where it has languished until the beginning of this week. And then I picked it up. I like to think that I didn't bring last year's baggage with me. But I did bring expectations. Overall I have to say that I enjoyed the book, but each novella evoked a different response.
The first novella - Winsol Gifts - made me laugh (which is a good thing :) It was the second novella - Shades of Honour - though which was my favourite of the four. Lucivar, Surreal and Rainier are three of my favourite characters (Daemon is the other), so any time spent with them was good. And I liked the premise...I just wish it had been longer. (I think that would be a wish for not just this novella but also the following one - Family. They all suffered [i.e. felt rushed because of the lack of detail] because they were so short.) And...if I'm honest I wasn't a fan of the ending. TBH there haven't been any good (as in scary) villains since the original trilogy. The characters all have so much power that they can deal with most potential villains relatively easily. So...no tension. And this was exactly what happened with Falonar. Daemon swooped in and...game over. It felt anti-climatic. And...I think Falonar would have suffered more where he was. And..perhaps, put under pressure, he had the potential to change? Kermilla (from Shalador's Lady) was given that chance - why not Falonar? And that's another thing - the characters that enter and exit with no resolution to their story arc. What did happen to Kermilla? Mikael? Rainier?
And that leads me to the High Lord's Daughter. I must confess to never being a massive Jaenelle fan. I don't dislike her, but Daemon, Lucivar & Saetan, and eventually Surreal & Rainier are my favourites. (Whoever said they don't have favourite characters has more willpower than I :) So...we've established that I like Jaenelle, yes? As for her relationship with Daemon? Hmmm...I wouldn't say I was massively invested. I have always approached this series as fantasy rather than romance novel, although I am invested in Daemon's well-being :) But...Jaenelle was always from one of the short-lived races and so I was aware Daemon would outlive her (although I didn't think the author would actually go there). And I could never work out how Daemon felt about Jaenelle, because it was tied up in how he felt about Witch, although I will concede that at the end of the Queen of Darkness it was Jaenelle he wanted. So...when I realized where the author was going with this novella I wasn't up in arms. Plus, I like Surreal. I have always wanted her to have...something (bearing in mind this isn't necessarily a romance series). But...I have to say...the whole novella left me with an...off feeling. How to explain? As I said, I had no problem with Surreal & Daemon 'together', and in a way it kind of made sense. But...we didn't get any of the slow development of their relationship. The first night they got together I kept thinking 'This feels off'. And that feeling never went away. Surreal never acted like Surreal. This series has never really got inside the characters' heads, but this novella out of all the stories had me feeling...disconnected. It didn't help that the timeline kept changing. I have OCD tendencies. I like to know...stuff. Lots of stuff. And I never felt like I did in this book. How old everyone was. What the timeframe was in relation to..anything. I would love to know more about Protocol. We get snippets, but it's never enough.
And then there is the child. I mean...seriously? Could she be any more...like Jaenelle? Let us count the ways. The name for one. *shakes head* And then she's all precocious (like Jaenelle). And the Kindred make an appearance (like Jaenelle). And she's talking to a 'special friend' (who is Jaenelle/Witch). And then at her Birthright Ceremony (and I still can't work out if Daemonar's Birthright Jewel is Green or his Descended Jewel is Green) she is given a 'special Jewel' - Twilight's Dawn (like Jaenelle). It's like the author killed Jaenelle off, but then missed her so much she all but regurgitates the character. And to make matters worse we have the scene in which Tersa tells Surreal that Jaenelle hadn't come back as Jaenelle Saetian. Seriously? Because (to all intents and purposes) she has. TBH Jaenelle Saetian should have been a boy. And if she had to be female, then she shouldn't have been a Jaenelle replica but been her own character. And to top it all off (in cherry form) we have a whatever of Witch making an appearance to Daemon and telling him it's OK to love Surreal, but that's he'll never be alone in the abyss? Way to go to allow Daemon to 'move on'. Nope. Not. Going. To. Happen. I don't buy how Daemon feels about Surreal because I don't feel he has had time to move on. Moving on doesn't mean not remembering Jaenelle. And I feel cheated on Surreal's behalf because I feel she deserved more. Does any of this make sense? I guess what I'm trying to say is...I have no problem with the premise, but the execution didn't work for me. It all just felt...wrong.
From the comments on the Dear Author review of Twilight's Dawn Anne Bishop is planning more Black Jewel books at some point. I almost feel like she could have stopped the series at Dreams Made Flesh. I enjoyed the Shalador duology, but again...here were these big powerful characters sweeping in and awing everyone. I like the rebuilding/renovation trope, so I would love more along that line. But with new characters.