I owe a favor to a regular customer at Denny’s years ago who recommended this trilogy to me. As an avid reader of more traditional epic fantasy, I was intrigued by his description of a series that was darker, and more erotic.
Neither Papa Tolkien nor Mr. Feist cared much to describe intimate relationships between men and women.
Ms. Bishop, however, does not shy away from such things. Her world is filled with sensual creatures, esoteric magic, and the worst (and best) of human behavior. Her characters joke, jibe, lust, bleed, and love. Their dialogue is believable, and fleshes out their personalities. Their world complements them, rather than superceeding them.
There are three Realms in the Black Jewels universe: Terreille (Light), Kaeleer (Shadow), and Hell (Dark). These distinctions have been twisted, however, and the darkness of Terreille is the prevaling theme of the first book in the trilogy, Daughter of the Blood. The Blood are those who can use the power of their Jewels to practice the Craft. These books are a fantasy centered around witches and their ways.
Or, more to the point, a fantasy centered around Witch. The legend of Witch motivates all the characters over the course of their long lives, and the trilogy begins with the antics of Daemon Sadi, the male protagonist. Soon enough, the reader meets Janelle, the female protagonist of the trilogy, and the plot truely begins.
The Black Jewels Trilogy is not simply a tale of light vs dark. It is a tale of light and dark coming together to balance in the shadow.