Friday, October 24, 2008

The Invisible Ring by Anne Bishop

After finishing Three Cups of Tea I needed something light and fun. My husband handed me The Invisible Ring. It is the fourth book in Anne Bishop's Black Jewels trilogy. I really enjoyed the Black Jewels trilogy, it is a unique perspective for a fantasy series. However, we went out to buy a fantasy-loving friend a copy of the series. The new printing of the book has bawdy romance covers, well maybe not bawdy, but definitely cheesy. My friend would have looked at the covers, laughed at me for giving him the books, and never opened them. They're not like that, really! Well, they do have implied sex - the rings serve a very specific purpose (think about it for just a minute. Yep, go there). But, the society that Bishop has set up is novel and worth contemplation. To explain, just a bit: the premise of Bishop's world is that women dominate. Men are subservient. But, the society has had to figure out a way to tame the bellicosity of men: hence the rings that control mens' actions.

Invisible Ring does not pick up where the trilogy let off. It is more of a companion novel set in the same world. You could read the book as a stand alone, but it makes much more sense having the background of the Black Jewels world. At its base, there is a romance: boy meets girl, boy and girl hate each other, boy and girl fall in love but can't acknowledge it, boy and girl finally hug and make up. Yet once again the social nuances are what make the story.

There is humor and poking fun at our own gender stereotypes that I enjoy. A good romance is worth picking up from time to time. If you enjoy fantasy series like Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel's books or even Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover series, you would enjoy Bishop. She is not the best author for a young reader because of the implied sexuality. I have more Bishop on my shelf. I will read it when I need an escape from reality.

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