Twilight’s Dawn is an anthology following on from the main trilogy of the Black Jewels series, so it is essentially just for people who read and enjoyed those books and characters. If you’re interested in the series and thought an anthology would be a good way to see if you like the world, I would not recommend reading this book. There’s too much required understanding for Twilight’s Dawn to make sense. If on the other hand, you’re like me and really enjoyed the series and still do (despite some problematic scenes that I only really noticed re-reading a good decade or so after I first read the series), this book is a great way to revisit some favourite characters. Plus, it’s a great read for around the holidays, and there’s plenty of warm fuzzy moments, and some lovely, righteous violence too, which is always nice.
The cover is fine, not outstanding but certainly not bad
This book is made up of four short stories—Winsol Gifts, Shades of Honor, Family and The High Lord’s Daughter.
Winsol Gifts is a fun, festive read; perfect for getting you into the holiday spirit1. It features some SaDiablo warmth, of course peppered with some touchy emotions and some fun gender dynamics. This story feels a little like a Christmas present, in the way it gives a lot of warm fuzzy moments with some of the best characters from the original Black Jewels trilogy. It’s nice to have a lighthearted story with family politics and old scars being the worst threat the (long-suffering) characters have to deal with. It almost borders on fan service, but in a way I have no objection to. This story (and this book) is a comfort read. And it’s very good in that role.
There were some interesting hooks from Winsol Gifts that nicely lead into the next story in the book, Shades of Honor. Shades of Honor focuses on Surreal, Rainier and Lucivar. I’ve always loved Surreal as a character (not that that means much, this series is an all-tie favourite of mine and I love the entire main cast), and I really liked the way her character is developed. This story has some well-written commentary on healing; disabilities; cultural evolution; feminism (of course); obeying the letter, rather than the spirit, of the law; and a myriad of other fascinating topics. One reason I’m so fond of the Black Jewels series is because the world itself is the backdrop for all of these situations, so the conversations, reactions, and moral/ethical dilemmas that arise do so in a very organic way. It makes for a great, metaphorical take on a whole host of issues, in a way that enhances, rather than distracts from the plot.
Family is a mix of the warm-fuzzies of Winsol Gifts with the traditional Black Jewels ‘monsters get punished’ righteous violence (which is just as satisfying, if in a wholly un-family-friendly way). Saetan gets spotlighted in this one, and he finally gets something of a happy ending. As the title would suggest, there are also some revelations regarding family in this short story. In all, this is a short, fun read.
The High Lord’s Daughter I know is widely reviled by some fans of the Black Jewels series, and while I didn’t enjoy the brief (or entirely off-page) deaths of some truly beloved characters, I think the story as a whole is a solid, bittersweet, enjoyable read. I liked that there was no magical, perfect ending for the characters—that would have been almost insulting to the struggles they went through. I enjoyed this story, and with the upcoming release of The Queen’s Bargain, I’m ridiculously excited to see where the story goes from here. Especially because the blurb of the upcoming book 10 (!) suggests that The Queen’s Bargain will follow directly on from Twilight’s Dawn, more specifically, from both Shades of Honour and The High Lord’s Daughter.
Overall, Twilight’s Dawn is a great anthology, with four fantastic stories of varying tones. Other than the fact that only fans of the series will truly appreciate this book, everything about Twilight’s Dawn is perfect. If you like the Dark Jewels series and haven’t read Twilight’s Dawn, check it out.
1I only realised embarrassingly recently that Winsol is short for Winter Solstice, because I am very observant! Sharp as a tack, I am! Nothing gets past me!