The Black Jewels are a series of books written by Anne Bishop, which are not quite fantasy, not quite romance, not quite dark fantasy, but entirely enthralling.
The author creates a world of cruel sensuality and powerful emotion in which one young woman, a child at the beginning, stands against overwhelming odds to protect the most vulnerable against the indulgences of the powerful.
At her side stand three men, her adoptive father, the High Lord of Hell, her adoptive brother, a barbarian, and her lover, a sadist. All three men have waited for thousands of years for her birth and in these three characters the author plays with our perception of good and bad, of preconceptions and prejudice.
The books, the three main in the series and the following offshoots about other characters, are so enthralling not only because of the struggle of good against evil, the distinct Robin Hood aspect of the fight for the vulnerable, or the love story - no, what draws the reader in so deeply are the multitude of relationships, friendships and loyalties, the depth of emotion and honour.
For me this is a comfort read, whenever I am a little sad, a little lost - this is where I turn. Why? Because it is a world of loyalty and friendship, of honour and love. The author gives us insight into the minds and, more importantly hearts, of the main characters in all the facets of love - the love of a lover, a father, a brother, a friend. It reminds us of what life is about - drawing a line and standing by it. In defense of all we love, all we believe in. And yes, then she also created three men I could, without a doubt, fall in love with ;).