Of course, Kati felt the same way about my having discarded Daughter of Blood by Anne Bishop as a DNF. She could not abide. So we set up this challenge – I’d read Daughter of Blood and she’d read Kushiel’s Dart and we’d blog on the same days, a midway post, then a finished/summing up post.
Poor Kati, actually Kushiel is well over twice as long as Daughter. I felt a little bad until I pulled my dusty copy of Daughter out from under my bed and remembered why I’d DNFed it.
Why I originally DNFed Daughter
I see I didn’t actually give Daughter much of a chance. I put it down early out of a combination of violence and boredom.
The violence occurs right away: chapter 1 opens with a fellow being shackled into this boat thing and—uh, let me look it up, I hate even thinking about it—okay, his genitals are smeared with bacon grease, and rats gnaw them all night, and then a fellow mercy kills him.
The boredom from passages like this in the beginning:
“There’s a Web for each rank of the Book Jewels. The darker the Web, the more tether and radial lines there are and the faster the Wind is. You can ride a Web that’s your Jewel rank unless you’re traveling inside a Coach being driven by someone strong enough to ride that Web or you’re being shielded by someone who can….
Memphis was a Gray-Jeweled Warlord Prince and almost unshakable. Prothvar was a Red-Jeweled Eyrien Warlord, a warrior bred and trained. Andulvar was an Eyrien Warlord Prince who wore the Ebon-gray, the second darkest Jewel…
In fact, as I was re-reading and hit one of these jewel-explaining passages I knew that’s where I put the book down, and if it wasn’t for this challenge, I would’ve put it down again. It felt to me like an unpleasant and complicated role playing game.
Okay, okay, now I’m enjoying it.
Now that book has taken off for me, I see why people love it. There are a lot of things I’m enjoying and admiring about it. For one, Anne Bishop does such an amazing job of loading good and evil forces and raising stakes. It’s like, if the book was a windup toy, most authors would wind it a few turns, but Bishop just doesn’t stop! More awful injustice, more danger for the vulnerable important heroine, crank crank, more pent up sexual desire, more longing, more characters with cause for vengeance, more evil acts, more hope, more danger. I’ve never seen a book like this.
Did anybody out there see the Joy Luck Club movie? It’s this really sad movie about mothers and daughters, and it makes you cry about every 20 minutes, and after a while you feel totally manipulated, like your emotions are being manually stimulated. You see how the movie is operating, but you’re powerless not to react. I would highly recommend it if you have clogged tear ducts.
Anyway, Bishop's artistry with this “wind-up” effect alone would propel me forward at this point, but if that’s all there was, I would feel as manipulated and manually stimulated by this book as I did with that movie.
What makes all the difference is a handful of really good characters, Saetan, Daemon and Surreal. Particularly sex slave Daemon, who is the picture of patience, endurance and pent-up love and rage. There is this one scene where he wishes he could “paint the walls with blood” but instead he smiles and carries on, biding his time, so to speak. He gives the book a kind of soul.
Will these characters get their resolution?
Okay, as I near two-thirds in, I get nervous about this being a TRILOGY. Will Daemon’s desire for freedom and for union with his lady be realized in this book? Will Saetan be okay? He feels kindly and vulnerable, and sort of expendable. I also worry about Daemon’s winged brother.
Maybe it’s this business of men being “shaved” or girls being “broken”- these are horrible things I won’t explain, but they make me not entirely trust Bishop. I don’t trust her not to kill off a character I care about. I can come to trust her, but I don’t yet.
Also, will she give the characters I care about satisfaction here in book one, or do I have to read the next and next?
Don’t think I’m not enjoying the book. I’m finding it powerful and involving and I’m really glad I’m reading it. I would continue forward without the challenge, for sure. In fact, I find it increasingly hard to put down. However I won't know what to make of it until the end.
See Kati's midway post here.
Come back Monday, December 1st for the thrilling conclusion!