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Jared is one of the more powerful members of the Blood, the vaguely aristocratic magic-wielding rulers of the lands he lives in. After a life-alteringly bad choice in his teens, Jared has become a pleasure slave for the Queens and Witches of Hayll. After nine years of bowing to sadistic whims, he does something that has him headed for a short, brutal life in the salt mines unless some fool decides to buy him at the semi-annual slave market.
Enter The Gray Lady. She is one of the few Queens that has refused to bow to the demands of affiliation from Hayll’s Queen. The Gray Lady sees that the balance of power has shifted dangerously in Hayll. The Queens who are meant to care for their people and their land are instead abusing both. The males who are meant to protect the female Blood are instead breaking the stronger of them in order to eliminate competition for the leaders. Hayll’s Queen wants The Gray Lady assassinated.
The Gray Lady buys Jared and a handful of other cast-off slaves at the slave market. She then makes some puzzling choices. Instead of putting everyone in a coach and riding the Winds home, a trip of hours, she buys a cart and heads over land, a journey of days, if not weeks. On the journey, the group faces many dangers together and starts to feel a confusing loyalty to their new owner. Jared is the most torn of all. As a pleasure slave, he has had more than his fill of women, so why is he attracted to this Lady who is old enough to be his grandmother?
I might be finished with this series. I loved the first one and liked the next two, but now that new characters are taking center stage, I’m starting to feel like everyone is too much alike. Some characters overlap between books, but even the new ones fit a mold. The evil women are insanely manipulative and creatively violent. The evil men are terrified of the evil women and so carry out their most vile schemes. The good guys are gorgeous and exquisitely skilled in bed. They’re also overly attentive to their ladies’ every mood. The good ladies have no concept of self-preservation, snap and snarl at the least provocation, and are fabulous leaders. So now that I’ve actually noticed that, I think the charm of the books has worn off.
This story was kind of more of the same. Jared is no Lucivar and certainly no Daemon (although Daemon does make an appearance, these are his pre-Jaenelle days and he is very much the Sadist). He’s a bit of an idiot. It took him forever to realize some stuff that’s pretty obvious from the beginning. Don’t get me wrong, there were some surprises, but I wasn’t as consistently surprised as Jared was.
The plot just felt like it was wandering around. They nearly miss an ambush, there’s some soul searching and some romantic tension, some traveling, another ambush, another near-miss, some more soul searching… You get the idea.
I did finally get caught up in the story toward the very end, when the final confrontation actually happens. I wasn’t sure how things were going to work out. I also have to say that I liked that Jared wasn’t perfect. Daemon and Lucivar are damaged in their own ways in the earlier books in the series, but they seem to get over it pretty quickly. Jared has to face his demons and either get over them or live a haunted life.
I don’t know what happened to me this time around to bring the faults to my attention. Other fans of the series will probably like this book more than I did.
Read an excerpt.
Find author Anne Bishop on her website.
Buy The Invisible Ring at
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