A prequel set in the "dark and sensual world" (11th Hour) of the national best-selling Black Jewels Trilogy. Jared is a Red-Jeweled Warlord bound as a pleasure slave by the Ring of Obedience. After suffering nine years of torment as a slave, he murdered his owner and escaped - only to be caught and sold into slavery once again. The notorious queen who has purchased him, known as the Gray Lady, may not be what she seems. Soon, Jared faces a difficult choice: his freedom, or his honor.
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You should only consider getting this title if you're already a fan of the Black Jewels trilogy ("Daughter of the Blood," "Heir to the Shadows," and "The Queen of Darkness," hereafter referred to as BJT), and even then I wouldn't recommend "The Invisible Ring."
The BJT is a mix of magic, epic fantasy, sadistic evil, adventure, romance, and erotica (both romantic and BDSM). Its world is one of multiple planes (Terreile, Kaelaer, Hayll, and the Twisted Kingdom) and different races (winged humans, humans who live for centuries, regular humans, "black widows," and undead sorta vamps). Jewels are the source of magic, and the darker the jewel the more potent the magic. Women hold the dominant sexual power and evil queens enforce it by forging "rings of obedience" onto the … anatomy … of any powerful Warlord Prince they can get their hands on.
If you're still reading this after the above description, you might enjoy the BJT books, which are unique, intriguing, exciting, romantic, and often erotic. But "The Invisible Ring," a prequel to the BJT, is none of these.
The marvelous, fully developed characters of BJT are absent. Instead we have the callow Jared and a pretty young pre-queen who may, if Jared and his buddies can manage to save her from the hideously evil Red Queen Dorothea, develop into a full-fledged Grey-Jewelled Queen (grey jewels being pretty high-powered items in this world). Dorothea is the only major character from BJT who shows up (well, BJT' s hero Daemon has a cameo, but it's so pale you can overlook it). Dorothea's scenes are truly gruesome--she is one corrupt witch queen!--but mostly the book is just boring and trite, and very unlike the books of the trilogy.
P.S. The review of Invisible Ring by Tango is spot on. I have been meaning to post this "warning" review for a while, and her excellent summation has just beaten me to it!
Note: Although this is supposed to be a standalone novel, I don't believe anyone would be able to follow the story without reading the Black Jewels trilogy first. And, if you read this book first, you may never read another Anne Bishop book so don't start Black Jewels here.
I really enjoyed the original Black Jewels trilogy so I didn't worry much that there were no reviews of this prequel and picked it up with high expectations. What a disappointment - absolutely pathetic. I would normally return a book this bad, but I wanted to post a review just to warn others. I now realize why there were no reviews even though there are many people who have read it. Any time you post a critical review of a beloved author, you get slings and arrows, but just in case anyone is interested before listening to this dud, I will brave it and advise you to SAVE YOUR CREDIT for something better.
Everything I liked about the original trilogy - engaging characters, intricate magical system, grand world building - is gone. Everything I was afraid might be in the original trilogy and was happy to find it wasn't there, has made it into this book. Women who behave like naughty 3-year-olds sulking and pouting and men who find that idiocy attractive and "handle" women like they were children even though the male characters are written to be just as immature and stupid as the female characters. Jared's big romance is the driver for the whole book and even if I liked Romance as a genre (which I don't), this is a REALLY lame romance with two of the most boring characters of all time. The only male character in this novel with the kind of fascination factor of the original is a "walk-on" appearance of Daemon and there is not a single female character that comes anywhere close to being as engaging as Jaenelle, Surreal, or Tersa. In addition, Bishop's writing, that I found rather pedestrian in the trilogy becomes truly lame in the Invisible Ring. Some cringe-worthy samples that will give you a flavor of this rather painful listening experience:
"He'd said goodnight to Lady Cuddles and woke up to Lady Grumpy." (ugh)
"I should take you over my knee and wallop some consideration into you." (Said by a grown man to an unrelated grown woman - I do not have words for how much I despise this kind of interaction between male and female characters in novels.)
""It knocked me down", she said, pouting. She sounded like a little girl whose best friend has snatched her favorite toy." (This is Bishop's description of a grown woman, gray-jeweled witch after using her magic. I'm betting Surreal would have called up her stiletto to use on this girl!)
Like the other Black Jewels books, this one is heavy on the sadism, but unlike the original trilogy, the sexual perversions and tortures are almost totally gratuitous and do nothing to further the plot or character development. And the constant discussion of "Moon Blood" and "Virgin Nights" was it's own kind of torture for me. The book is 400+ pages and I'm guessing the word "bitch" must be used an average of 2 times per page. Throw in a generous helping of "slut" and "whore" and you can probably tell that the misogyny quotient for this novel is huge and it's just a lazy, tedious, manipulative way to make you hate the bad guys.
The Invisible Ring not only doesn't measure up to the original Black Jewels trilogy, it is just plain bad.