cover image Shalador’s Lady

Shalador’s Lady

Anne Bishop, . . Roc, $24.95 (476pp) ISBN 978-0-451-46315-9

The rambling eighth Black Jewels epic fantasy (after 2009’s The Shadow Queen ) doesn’t glow as brightly as earlier installments, but faithful fans will cheer to find Lady Cassidy at last on track to a happy ending. Plain jane Cassie, a Rose-jeweled queen, lost her Bhak court to prettier but bratty Lady Kermilla. She’s now recovered from the loss and ready to restore her new land of Shalador to prosperity. When Lady Kermilla pays an unwelcome visit, Warlord Prince Theran Grayhaven, pledged to Cassie’s service, starts making eyes at their guest. Fearing another betrayal, Cassie flees to Eyota, but her heart remains with Grayhaven gardener Jared Blaed. Bishop’s dialogue-heavy prose, ornate magical politics, large cast, and complex caste system bog down the narrative flow, and even the introductory guides will do little to enlighten new readers, leaving this one strictly for the fans. (Mar.)