This book is set in the same universe as the Black Jewels trilogy, only considerably earlier. This is a stand alone book, not part of a set (but is part of the series), so we only have one book to meet the characters, and read the story.
I read the trilogy first, so knew a bit of the background; however, I think one can read it without knowing everything the trilogy has to offer. Knowing some of the characters helped, though.
Jared, a young warlord, is tricked into becoming a pleasure slave, and eventually reaches his breaking point, and kills the queen who abuses him. Slated for the mines, he is bought by a young queen, and freed, only to be held by the invisible ring, which is stronger, and more powerful than the crippling pain-inducing ring of a pleasure slave.
Anne Bishop not only develops unique characters, but unique universes. Seldom have I enjoyed playing in such diverse and well developed places with such marvelous people. I really do hate to reach those final two words, The End, or her novels, because I want more. I don't want to come home to dishes and unmade beds, I want to stay outside and chase the fireflies, or whatever. When the books end, I hate to say "Goodbye" to my new and best friends.