Friday, November 1, 2013
Dark Challenge, Christine Feehan
And this definitely switched things up for me. It was even a bit feminist!
Let's get down to it!
So, as we know from Dark Magic, Julian, Aidan's twin, is pretty close to changing. In an effort to keep him going a bit longer, Gregori gives him the task of protecting a human woman the society thinks is a vampire.
Of course she's his lifemate.
But here's the good part: She's Carpathian!
OK, so back in the day, the Carpathian Mountains were invaded by the Ottoman Turks way back in the day. It was pretty brutal, as many wars/invasion were then. When I've said many Carpathian women and children were killed, this is what I've been referring to (though, that hasn't been clear until now). They slaughtered the people, herding women and children into a straw shack to burn them.
A small group of Carpathian children escaped. They managed to flee to the coast of Africa and survive. They've been traveling as troubadours for centuries, moving from country to country when they're presence and lack of aging becomes suspicious. They've always thought they were the last of their kind.
Until Julian walked into their concert.
I love this for a couple of reasons.
For one thing, Deseri, being a centuries old Carpathian woman, has her own powers and identity.
We find out the women used to stay unattached for centuries, but with the depletion of females and the resulting increase in vampires, the men can't risk waiting. It's too dangerous that they'll turn. Especially because they keep the women largely segregated, so the males don't seem to have any idea if they're lifemate is among the women or not. The band is horrified that men are claiming their mates at 18, which we knew from Dark Magic.
Anyway, so where the men are typically older and more worldly than the women, who are highly sheltered, Deseri has had time to develop her own powers and her own independence.
And boy does she let Julian have it! :)
She is not willing to let him cocoon her when he's in danger. She will damn well help him!
Best part? He really takes it to heart. He really starts to understand that the female Carpathians have their own powers just as strong as the males - just different. I guess, where the males' powers are focused more on combat and destruction, the females' powers are more in line with creation. We know some of the males are healers, but how we also learn the women in the band have developed really strong similar powers.
Deseri actually calls herself a feminist. It's really refreshing.
Now, the idea that the women will know exactly what's going on is still not really there for me. Deseri was raised by her brother, Darius, but he was only 6 when they escaped the Turks. He was still learning the Carpathian way. He's taught the others as best he can, but there's still some missing information.
So they don't know about lifemates. Darius just thinks it's his fate to lose his emotions and kill himself before he turns. And how sad is that? It's only his duty to his family that has kept him so long. Now that Julian is around, he's starting to think it's his time to die.
But with the information about lifemates, there's hope for the 3 males in the group.
Which brings me to the next thing I really liked: Syndil and Barak. They all grew up as family, like brother and sister, but I'm pretty sure they're lifemates. Deseri tells Julian that Syndil has been able to feel sexual attraction, where she had not. Carpathian woman can only be aroused by their lifemates. Once men lose their feelings, it's the same for them, but up till that point they have sexual urges. Yet she does. And Barak seems to have retained more emotions and colors than the other men in the family.
It's not confirmed, and they don't get together in this book, but I'm like 99% sure.
Sadly, I'm also getting my abused life mate in this one if I'm right. (Just because I think it would be a good story line, don't mean I enjoy the idea of it.) See there was a fourth male in the family, Savon. He turned and brutalized Syndil before anyone could save her, now she's withdrawn from the family. She spends most of her time in leopard form, and refuses to let the males touch her, or even really be around her.
This makes for a really good story line though, however horrible. She can't even stand poor Barak.
Also, we learn that Darius and Deseri are Gregori's brother and sister. He's always thought he was the last of his family, that his brother and sister died in that burning shack. I would love to see that reunion!
Another thing they mention I'd like to see is other groups. When Julian discovers what happened to Deseri and her family, he wonders if there are others. Mikhal apparently sent out people to look, but no one had ever found any. Deseri and the family always avoided anyone like them because they were usually vampires, but she tells him she heard of other in South America. I'd really like to see that. A non-while character would be refreshing, too.
The Barak/Syndil thing means there are two options for the next book. Syndil and Barak, obviously, though that's not what I think will happen. Darius is close to changing and Deseri wants to hire a mechanic to help the band, so that's my guess: Darius and the mechanic.
I think this one might be my favorite so far. It's different and interesting, and there's a lot going on. Hopefully we keep that up.
Dark Challenge, Christine Feehan