It takes place way before any of the other books, in 1996 to be exact. But I definitely think this is the place to read it. It's written in a way that I think if you did try to read it in chronological order as the first book, you'd be really confused. I think you'd miss some of the most important tidbits.
So, as I said, it's set way back in time. We actually see Nick as a teen, but I'll come back to that.
We meet Greary and Arik in Greece. Greary's family has been searching for Atlantis for generations. Unfortunately, it's ended in death mostly. After her father dies, she takes over the search.
Arik is a dream god who finds Greary in her dreams and wants to see her in the human world. But here's the problem, all the dream gods were punished by Zeus and stripped of all their emotions. Arik wants to be with her, but doesn't understand the feelings he has. Dream gods should only have feelings in dreams, when they siphon off from the humans who dreams they've invaded. Sometimes, they get carried away and end up addicted to the emotions. Like any addict, the can destroy in an effort to feed that addiction.
Arik was turned into one of those. Think incubus. Anyway, Zeus' curse is weakening, and their getting their emotions back, but Arik doesn't know that. It's a big secret. So, he doesn't realize the feelings he has are his own. He doesn't understand what they are either. So, being the emotionless psycho that he was made, he makes a deal with Hades to be human in exchange for Greary's soul.
Now, obviously, he doesn't follow through. He quickly realizes he loves her. Unfortunately, to save her, he has to die. And die he does. He comes back and is 100% human though, so all is well though.
Now, what about the meat and potatoes here...
Kat is back for one. We learn a lot more about her. We've seen her in Kiss of the Night helping Cassandra and in Seize the Night where she appears briefly to help save Ash. This was her assignment from Artemis before protecting Cassandra.
Her goal is to keep Atlantis hidden at all costs. For one, finding it could inadvertently release Apollymi. Secondly, it would hurt Ash, and she'd never let that happen. Again, "why" is the question. What is her connection to Ash? She clearly loves him.
We also find out more about Apollymi and Kat's relationship. Kat gets into an argument with Artemis after Artemis blows up the research boat, almost killing the crew and Greary's family. Totally unnecessarily. Artemis accuses Kat of being unloyal because she went and made a deal with Apollymi. They don't say what the deal was, just that Artemis "knows why [Kat] had to."
So confused! It must be something about Ash, but...
It does show that Apollymi isn't all bad. Yes, she's the Goddess of Destruction, and if she were free, she'd destroy the world, but, as Kat says, she's a good friend.
Kat is also outed as a goddess. A strong one. Stronger than Artemis.
Arik also admits to having been in a few of Ash's dreams. He indicates/confirms that Ash is Apollymi's son and that he helps keep her calm when she's freaking.
So, about Nick.
We see him when he's 18. It's an interesting interaction all around.
One of the head sleep gods, M'Adoc, goes a little nuts about Arik. In order to help him and avoid Zeus finding out their emotions are coming back, the other head gods send him to Ash. Ash wants him to help Zarek - obviously before Zarek's book, but after he gets banished to Alaska. Ash meets them at Kyrian's house, which is where Nick comes in.
Nick is on his way to walk him mom home. Kyrian says that Nick will be the death of her. Ash says that he'd be the death of her before Nick would, and that Nick would die for her. M'Adoc seems to know exactly what will happen with Nick and Ash, but says it's not "his place" to say anything. Which seems to mean that maybe it was supposed to happen the way it has. I don't know.
Ash also says that if M'Adoc can help Zarek, that Ash will owe him.
Seems there going to be more to that story.
I wonder if Ash is going to end up with his own Pantheon. When Kyrian and Amanda were killed, he makes them all immortal. Valerius and Zarek are both gods now. And I don't see Zeus forgiving the dream gods and allowing them to keep their emotions. Honestly, we haven't seen much of him, but he seems like a real ass hat. I feel really bad for the dream gods.
I don't know. I don't mean that Ash is planning to have his own Pantheon, I think it's probably the last thing he's want, I just think that's kinda where it's headed.
Though, I do think he's planning something...