Anne Bishop created the Black Jewels series years ago with her first novel, Daughter of the Blood. Now, it has spawned a long series of novels. This book has four novellas set at different points in the series.
The first story, Wintersol Gifts, takes place after the events in Tangled Webs. Daemon is celebrating his first Wintersol with his Queen, Jaenelle, and his extended family, all of whom show up for the holiday. But Daemon wants everything to be perfect for Jaenelle. Unfortunately, life doesn't go to his wishes. Can he get out of his resulting hissy fit in time to actually enjoy the holiday and have a good time?'
Shades of Honor, the second story, takes place before the book "The Shadow Queen" and explores what happens when Surreal SaDiablo returns to Ebon Rih. Her former lover, Falonar, decides that he is going to try and destroy Lucivar, who sent Surreal to Ebon Rih in the first place. He sets a trap for Lucivar in an attempt to kill him, using multiple Eyriens who serve Falonar. But when Surreal finds out about it, can she resist destroying her former lover for attempting to kill her foster brother?
Family, the third story, follows the story of Queen Sylvia and her sons. Killed by another family, but needing to ensure the safety of her sons, she rises as the Demon-dead and ends up in Hell, which is ruled by Saetan SaDiablo. When he hears her story, he pledges his support in rescuing her sons and making sure that she can keep them safe in the future. But as time passes and they continue to work together, Saetan finds himself coming to care for this Demon-dead witch. But will she accept a relationship with the Lord of Hell?
The last story in the book, The High Lord's Daughter, takes place after the death of Jaenelle. Saetan eventually allows himself to fade, and his son Daemon takes over as High Lord of Hell. But the death of two of the people he loves has caused Daemon to withdraw into himself and become cold and distant. But when he shares a single night with Surreal and ends up engendering a child, he becomes interested in controlling Surreal completely. But can she convince Daemon to open his heart again and be less controlling? Or will it take the spirit of Witch to bring Daemon to his senses and convince him to let himself love again?
I usually enjoy the Black Jewels stories, and most of the stories in this book are actually very good, but the last story was horribly painful to read, mainly because I loved the characters who died, and to see Daemon be so horribly cruel and cold towards Surreal while trying to make her toe the line because she is carrying his child. I hated seeing Daemon like that, and all the stuff that he goes through in the story alternately made my chest hurt and made me want to kick his ass into the next world.
As a series of stories, it's like a series of snapshots into the SaDiablo family over time. I had the feeling after finishing the book that this is the end of the series, and that made me feel sad, because it really is a good series, and I am actually sorry to see it end. On the other hand, perhaps this means that we will get to see a new series, like her Tir Allain or Ephemera series, both of which were good, but nothing compared to the Black Jewels series. And there does seem to be another Ephemera novel in the works, to be published next year.
This seems to be the endpoint of the series, and the stories here were written to answer questions that the readers asked about the series and some of the characters. I enjoyed the book, and the series, but this is not the book you want to read first. You should really read the books in order, and I highly recommend the series, and recommend this book, though not as a first experience with this world and these characters.