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So, it's been a while since I've done one of these. It's not that I haven't been reading; of course I have. Keeps me sane. But it's been a while since I've felt comfortable putting in the time to write a review. I still kind of don't have the time, but there you go. I might end up doing a couple of these in quick succession, just because I want to. Then again, I might not.

Title(s): Dreams Made Flesh
Author: Anne Bishop
Publication Year(s): 2005
Was This Book Good?: Yes

How I came to read this: Well. I'd read the Black Jewels Trilogy a while ago (I think I wrote my last review on it, way back in July) and I enjoyed them. I'd always intended to read the rest of Bishop's books, but deliberately took a break from them for a while; I didn't want to run out of them too fast. Not to mention that, for whatever reason, I couldn't get this as a kobo-formatted book here in Canada. Finally I just sucked it up and bought a paper copy of it. It still grates my nerves when I own books from the same series in different formats; it's bad enough when one's hardcover and one's soft cover, it's even worse when one's in print and one's not.

Thoughts?: This book is a collection of short stories set in the world of the Black Jewels. These stories fill in some of the time gaps that exist in the trilogy and clarify a few other points. In this way, this is a really good book to step back into Bishop's world with, as it reminds you of the events that happened previously, without forcing them down your throat. It also, thus, prepares you to do more reading in this same universe.
I tend to be partial to these sort of extended universe stories; the short snippets that you won't always see if an author chooses to never revisit a world.

I was especially glad to see a few of the stories - more information on Marian was highly welcomed, as I felt that she was somewhat short-changed (and almost used as a plot-device and nothing more) in the original trilogy. Her story in this book allows us to get to know her, and, indeed, to become quite fond of her. Likewise, I was pleased to see a story about Saetan that did deal with him as a disturbingly powerful being; in the trilogy, he had been in control and when it was noted that he was feared, there was a tiny bit of a "Why...?" hanging over it.

Bishop's writing has also matured in the span between the trilogy and this book, and many of the things that I found very slightly annoying about her work have either vanished or become much less pronounced, and I am pleased by it; Lucivar's lazy, arrogant smile isn't cropping up every second page, and Janelle's midnight voice only makes a few brief appearances. It's not that I don't appreciate these 'titles', for as I mentioned last time, they do remind me of the Classical naming conventions, but I am very glad to see that they were not as over-used here.

I believe I made the right choice by waiting between reading the trilogy and reading this book, however, as the stories are a bit removed from, and a bit lighter than, the depth and darkness of the original trilogy. In this way, I feel that these stories would appeal to a wider audience than the original trilogy, and yet, I liked them less. A huge part of the appeal of the original trilogy, for me at least, was the indulgence in darkness that Bishop presented. There's less of that here; much less. The stories are, well, they're kind of... fluffy. This isn't bad, per se, but it does put the stories into a slightly different category for me.

I enjoyed the fluffy feel of most of these stories, particularly in the story with Marian. However, I found it more than somewhat jarring in the story with Saetan. That story was dark, was meant to be dark, but somehow, the darkness in it felt less fluid, less complete, less wholly indulgent than the darkness in the original trilogy felt, and I found myself wondering if Bishop simply hadn't been in the mood for it or had been too far removed from such writing when she penned this story. Again, it's not that it wasn't good; it was. It's not that the story wasn't dark; it was. But having read Bishop's original trilogy, I know that it could have been darker, could have been better - and I wonder why it wasn't.

But all in all, a good read. I enjoyed it, and appreciated it tremendously as a stepping stone back into the world of the Black Jewels. Which was especially useful since I obviously read more of those immediately after this one. Reviews forthcoming.
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February 2012

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