Vengeance of the Demon (DAW, 4/2015)
Legacy of the Demon (10/2016)
Novel 9 (TBA) (FINAL)
The demon invasion of Earth has begun, and as the world's top arcane expert, demon summoner Kara Gillian is leading the battle against them. Unnatural catastrophes, odd plagues, and martial law of the norm, and Kara is hard-pressed to keep up with the mounting threats. Add in the arrival of demonic lords with conflicting goals, and she has the perfect recipe for global disaster.
Yet when a centuries-old scheme puts the future of humanity on the line, Kara must scramble to stop the machinations, though treachery, hidden dangers, and ancient enemies block her at every turn. Soon she uncovers the disturbing legacy of the demon realm and the hideous betrayal at its core.
However, before Kara can unmask the one behind the assault on Earth, she'll need to perform the most dangerous summoning ever attempted—and if her enemy has its way, it may just be her last. But no matter how much of her own blood she has to spill, it'll be a cold day in hell before she surrenders.
After the huge arcane valve explosion that ended Vengeance of the Demon, Beaulac has become a ghost town. Nearly all of the citizens have fled, and the only people remaining are military and government operatives. Demons have been steadily coming through fiery rifts that have opened over the entire world, destroying anything and anyone in their vicinity. The humans are fighting back, but they're losing. There is no travel through the regular conduits between Earth and the demon realm, and no summonings are possible. At first, Kara believes that the demons coming through the rifts are part of the battle among the demon lords, but then she learns that these demons have their own agenda. The entire mess is somehow related to Xharbek, the demahnk counselor and ptarl to the exiled demonic lord, Szerain. As the plot unwinds, Kara learns more and more about the evil that Xharbek has planned, and spends much of her time trying to stop him, with mixed results.
As the story opens, each character is in a somewhat precarious position. Here is a list to give you the general idea:
> Kara Gillian has teamed up with Vince Pellini to deal with the fallout from the huge valve explosion that climaxed the previous novel. Her powers are continuing to grow and strengthen, and her summoning powers are actually coming back. After days of questioning by the Feds, she was given the rank of Arcane Commander of the Demonic Incursion Retaliation and Tactics (DIRT) team assigned to keep Beaulac clear of demons. As the story opens, she is spending her days and nights fighting demons, and she remains highly emotional about the fact that her demon lord lover, Mzatal, is still missing.
> Elinor Bayliss is a 17th century summoner whose essence is attached to Kara. She keeps trying to be heard, interrupting Kara's visions and causing her to lose focus. Elinor plays a major role in this novel because Xharbek plans to use her in his insidious plan to destroy the Earth. Elinor is mostly focused on reuniting with her long-dead (but now resurrected) lover, Giovanni Racchelli.
> Mzatal appears very briefly a few times in this book, but is mostly in the demon realm doing his god-guy thing against his enemies. By the end of the book, his future is troubled, at best, and Kara will have to do some major magic to get him back.
> Jill Faciane is dealing with her grief at losing her daughter, Ashava, moments after her birth. In the face of deadly danger to the infant, Zack (Ashava's father) grabbed the baby and is now in hiding with Szerain and Sonny Hernandez (Zack's caretaker).
> Szerain (formerly Ryan Kristoff) is also MIA throughout most of the book. He and three others have hidden themselves away from the villainous demon lord Xharbek, who has a devious plan for Ashava.
> Zakaar (formerly Zack Garner) is hiding his infant daughter to keep her out of Xharbek's clutches. Zack continues to fade because of his broken essence bond with Rhyzkahl.
> Rhyzkahl is just as physically weak as Zack because of the break in their bond. Currently he remains imprisoned and powerless beside the nexus in Kara's back yard.
> Idris Palatino is on the other side of the globe fighting off the demons that are pouring out of rifts in Asia. Idris is dealing with his rage at learning that Rhyzkahl is his biological father. (As the book opens, Rhyzkahl is still unaware that Idris is his son.)
> Bryce Thatcher has become one of Kara's most valuable allies. He is currently living on the Kara Kompound, where he has slowly fallen in love with Jill (but has kept his feelings to himself).
> Vincent Pellini is Kara's arcane partner as they work together to overcome the demon invasion. He is using his arcane talents in conjunction with Kara's with great success.
> Marco Knight spends much of this book in stasis—in a cocoon-like state. We don't learn much about what actually happened to him until the end of the book. Cory Crawford also goes through the stasis/cocoon process with a slightly different result. Rowland drops this plot element into the story with little explanation.
The plot is extremely complex and includes endless battles with demons, a trip to the demon realm, and many arcane rituals on and off Kara's nexus. If you can't remember the details of the demon mythology upon which Roland has based this series, you're out of luck in understanding what's going on. Flipping back and forth to the glossary helps to some extent, but it's awkward at best, primarily because Rowland has divided the glossary into sections, so you have to locate the section you need and then find the word or phrase. The story line is so dense with demon names, demon words, and references to past events that I was just barely hanging on most of the time. In order to fully understand this plot, I would have had to reread big chunks of Vengeance of the Demon, and I wasn't about to do that.
I really loved this series during the early books, when the plots were filled with fully developed characters about whom I really cared. Now, it's just one demon battle after another followed by a series of arcane rituals—always described at great length in essentially the same words. Unfortunately, by the end of this book, things get even more whacked out and woo-woo. Every time that I thought that nothing new could be jammed into this world-building, Rowland found space for one more piece. And this last one is a doozy!
This is definitely NOT a stand-alone novel. Even if you have read all of the other books (as I have), you will probably find it difficult to remember the histories of all of the characters and their ever-changing relationships with one another.
If you are a fan of Roland's convoluted demonic world with its focus on freaky arcane happenings, you'll probably enjoy this book. But for me, it was a 453-page bust: too many repetitive demon-battle scenes, too many repetitive arcane rituals, and not nearly enough time spent with the characters in any kind of a "normal" situation. The only time they interact is just before, during, or directly after a demon battle.
Click HERE to read or listen to an excerpt from Legacy of the Demon on the novel's page at Amazon.com. Just click on the cover art for print or on the "Listen" icon for audio.
In Blood of the Demon, Kara and Ryan catch another serial killer with assistance from Rhyzkahl, with life-changing results that strengthen Rhyzkahl's hold on Kara and undermine her relationship with Ryan. Click HERE to read or listen to an excerpt from Blood of the Demon on its page at Amazon.com. Just click on either the cover art or the "Listen" icon.
In Secrets of the Demon, Kara and her team investigate the abduction of a teen rock star and get drawn into a string of murders committed by golem-like creatures. Click HERE to read or listen to an excerpt from Secrets of the Demon on its page at Amazon.com. Just click on either the cover art or the "Listen" icon.
Rhyzkahl appears in only one scene in this book, but he's always fun to watch, no matter how small his part is. Kara and Ryan keep their relationship at its usual slow simmer, but Jill and Zack are moving right along with their romance. Ryan seems to have resigned himself to the fact that Rhyzkahl is a major player in Kara's life, while Kara wonders who the real Ryan is. Is he the caring and sympathetic man she thought him to be when she first met him, or is that identity just a front for his supernatural self? If so, then what lies behind the human facade?
Kara continues to be a brash and headstrong heroine who always manages to conquer her fears and go courageously into battle, but it's still difficult to understand why every single man—human and demon—falls for her. All through this book, she's fighting them off right and left, but just what is it about Kara that attracts them? I don't have a clue. In the demon realm, Kara's non-stop, foul-mouthed expletives are such a low-class contrast to the elegant language of the demons, that I sometimes felt a bit embarrassed that she was the one representing the human race. Her constant cursing didn't stand out so much in the human cop world of the previous books, but here, that deluge of dirty words comes across as crude and offensive.
Click HERE to read or listen to an excerpt from Fury of the Demon on the novel's page at Amazon.com. Just click on either the cover art for print or the "Listen" icon for audio.
FAIR WARNING: This review
Let's start with the cover art. If a major character is nine months pregnant when the book begins, and if Kara is pictured on the cover holding a baby…guess what! Yes, Jill does have her baby at the end of this book (and I don't consider that to be a spoiler). If I were to tell you what happens in the moments after the birth, though…that would be a spoiler…so I won't. I'll just say that the whole scene is very woo-woo (as is much of the book) and that Jill's birth experience does not turn out to be the happiest or most predictable moment of her life.
Just to sort things out, here is an annotated list of the primary and secondary characters explaining their current situations and their general roles in this book:
> Kara Gillian (series heroine): She misses Mzatal, who has closed down his link with her so much that she can barely feel his emotions. She is being investigated by the Beaulac Police Department as a suspect in the murder of J.M. Farouche during the catastrophic scene at the Plantation that closed the previous book. She and Idris team up with Pellini to work on Beaulac's magical valves that connect with the demon realm.
> Mzatal (Kara's lover, a demonic lord): He is leading the good-guys in the demon world as they attempt to destroy the coalition of Rhyzkahl and three other demonic lords. Mzatal appears in only one scene near the end of the book—a scene that doesn't have the happiest of endings.
> Ryan Kristoff (aka Szerain, a demonic lord): He is MIA throughout most of the book having cut off all communication with Kara and with his friends. "Ryan" actually doesn't exist any more because his demon self—Szerain—has completely taken over by now.
> Jill Faciane (Kara's BFF and Zack's girlfriend): She is dealing with the stress of the final weeks of her pregnancy and is trying not to be too angry that Zack hasn't been around at all since he broke his bond with Rhyzkahl at the Plantation, which weakened him terribly.
> Zack (aka Zakaar, Jill's baby daddy, a demon who was Rhyzakahl's ptarl): He is fading fast because of his broken link with Rhyzkahl, and all of demonworld now views him as an oathbreaker. He has all but turned his back on Jill, and his behavior after the baby is born is highly unexpected. Zack rarely appears in this book—just at the beginning and the end.
> Rhyzkahl, a demonic lord: He is just as physically weak as Zack—confined to bed and unable to perform any magic. He has allied with the demonic lords Jesral, Amkir, and Kadir to establish a permanent gate between the worlds. He appears in only a few scenes, but they are important ones.
> Tessa (Kara's aunt, a summoner): She is off with Isumo Katashi, her long-time mentor, throughout the entire book. She makes some shocking moves in the few scenes in which she appears.
> Isumo Katashi: The world's most skilled and powerful summoner. Except for Idris and Kara, all summoners on Earth have been trained by him. Formerly, he worked for Mzatal, until he betrayed Mzatal and began working for Kadir. Now, he and Kara are working at cross purposes on the valves.
> Idris Palatino: The moody summoner is staying with Kara so that they can fix the magical power valves in Beaulac. He and Kara have the starring roles in this book as they figure out how to fix the valves and outwit Katashi. Idris' sister was raped and murdered by Farouche's thugs in the previous book, so Idris is out to kill the men who did it: Jerry Steiner, Angus McDunn, and Leo Carter, all of whom appear in this book.
> Bryce Thatcher: He was formerly one of Farouche's assassins, until he murdered Farouche and became one of Kara's allies. He is also staying with Kara, mostly to keep Idris calm and to take care of Jill.
> Vincent Pellini: He is a Beaulac PD detective who has long been Kara's nemesis, but his role and his personality change completely in this book, and he is as much a star as Idris and Kara. You might remember that in the previous book, Pellini tried to get Kara to have coffee with him, and now you'll find out just what he wanted to talk to her about. It's a great surprise.
> Marco Knight: He is a clairvoyant New Orleans police detective who stops in several times to drop some ambiguous clues to future events. Here is the most important one (which he divulges on page 5): "The twelfth is a radical game changer…Spawned of fierce cunning. Beauty and power exemplified. Beware the twelfth." What does it mean? Who knows? Both Kara and the reader must keep trying to figure it out all the way though to the final scenes.
This book reads like a transitional, set-up piece for the final two novels. The primary plot revolves around the task of making all of the valves symmetrical so that they slow down Katashi's work. Here, Idris explains to Kara what a valve is and why valves are so important: "It's as if the demon realm—the planet—has a generator at its core, and without an outlet it'll overload and tear itself to pieces….The whole valve system bleeds excess potency off the demon realm and dumps it on Earth….Nodes are more robust than valves, like a branch compared to a twig…The nodes are big tunnel bridges that carry the potency from the demon realm to here. When the potency gets to the end of the tunnel-bridge it empties into the pipelines—the valve network." Katashi is trying to open a permanent gate between Earth and the demon realm, and the valves are an integral part of his plan.
The entire plot is very woo-woo, filled with demon names, demon language, and demon shenanigans. I must confess that even though I went back and read my plot summaries (the ones included in this post), I was still frequently at a loss as to who was who and what were the long-term ramifications of the Plantation episode that climaxed novel 6. Lots and lots of characters step in and out of the plot of this book, and frequently their previous roles are not explained in any detail, so you must rely on your memory of past events to get you through. Unfortunately, my memory only took me so far—not far enough in some cases. I did keep plowing ahead, though, and the going eventually got easier. But in the first half of the book, my pace was glacially slow because I had to keep looking up the characters (in the glossary at the back of the book) and past events (in my reviews). That's not a good way to read a book.
This is a plot filled with betrayals, new friends, old enemies, and a convolution of woo-woo. It is definitely NOT a stand-alone. Even if you have read all of the other books (as I have), you will probably find it difficult to remember the histories of all of the characters and their ever-changing relationships with one another.
Back in the early books, I was a huge fan of this series and enjoyed every book. But when all the demonic, abracadabra freakiness took over the plots, my enjoyment of the series began to take a nosedive. I'm sure that Rowland has a long-term plan to finish out the final two books in the series, but I hate that this book is so transitional that it doesn't really resolve any issues—just postpones them for the next two books. As I said in another recent review, the author of a novel—even a series novel—owes the reader a complete story, and that means resolution of at least a piece of the conflict. That doesn't happen in this book.
Click HERE to read or listen to an excerpt from Vengeance of the Demon on the novel's page at Amazon.com. Just click on the cover art for print or on the "Listen" icon for audio.