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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Sherrilyn Kenyon & Dianna Love: THE BELADOR SERIES

Authors:   Sherrilyn Kenyon & Dianna Love
Series:  THE BELADOR
Plot Type:  Urban Fantasy (UF)
Titles:  
   NOVELS:
    1  Blood Trinity (10/2010)(by Kenyon and Love)
    2   Alterant (9/2011)(by Kenyon and Love)
    3   The Curse (9/2012)(by Kenyon and Love)
    4   Rise of the Gryphon (7/2013)(by Kenyon and Love)
    5   Demon Storm (8/2014)(by Love)
    6   Witchlock (6/2015) (by Love)
    7   Rogue Belador (4/2016) (by Love)
    8   Dragon King of Treoir (1/2017)

   SHORT STORIES AND NOVELLAS:
   3.5   "Deadly Fixation" in Love Is Murder (2/2013)(by Love) (also included in Demon Storm)
   3.6    "Fire Bound" (free BELADOR short story download, 2011)(by Kenyon and Love)
   3.7   "Midnight Kiss Goodbye" in Dead After Dark (12/2008) (by Love)
   6.5   "Tristan's Escape" (12/2015) (by Love)

This ongoing post will be updated and revised on 5/13/2016 to include a review of Rogue Belador, the seventh novel. That review appears first, followed by an overview of the series world-building and reviews of all of the previous novels and novellas. I apologize for being so very late in reviewing Rogue Belador. It slipped through the cracks on my to-be-read shelf. 

                         NOVEL 7:  Rogue Belador                          

PUBLISHER'S BLURB: 
     As Tzader Burke searches for a way to save Brina of Treoir’s failing memories, he discovers someone who can help her if he is willing to sneak into the heart of his enemy’s stronghold—TÅμr Medb. He’ll do anything to protect the woman he loves from becoming a mindless empty shell, but his decision could be the catalyst for an apocalyptic war. The deeper he digs for the truth, the more lies he uncovers that shake the very foundation of being a Belador and the future of his clan.

     While battling on every front, a secret is exposed that two immortal powers have spent thousands of years keeping buried. Tzader and his team have no choice but to fight for what they believe in, because the world as they know it is never going to be the same again.

MY REVIEW:
     As usual, this novel has several plot lines that begin separately but converge at the end:

>> Someone is kidnapping white witches, and Evalle must identify the culprit and rescue the witches. At first it seems that the Medb are the evildoers. Soon, though, Evalle and Storm come to believe that someone is framing the Medb—but who?


>> Tzader Burke is still trying to figure out a way to help his true love, Brina, retrieve her memories, but so far he is failing. Now, the goddess Macha has given him a time limit, after which she will kick him out of Treoir and marry Brina off to someone else. Then Tzader meets a mysterious man in the dream world who claims that he can release Brina from the evil memory spell if Tzader will rescue a dragon who has been imprisoned by Queen Maeve in TÅμr Medb. (We will be seeing a lot more of that snarky dragon in novel eight.)


>> Maeve (the Medb queen) and her consort, Cathbad the Druid, have begun to infiltrate Atlanta with their minions as they continue to implement their plans to kill or enslave all their enemies and rule the world.

     The story mostly skips back and forth between Evalle and Tzader, although Maeve and Cathbad do have a few scenes of their own. Interwoven among these three main plot lines are slender story threads pertaining to Vladimir Quinn's niece, Lanna Brasko, and to Adrianna Lafontaine, Evalle's former rival—now a friend and an ally—who gained tremendous powers in novel six, Witchlock. As the story moves along, both women demonstrate how much their powers have grown in the past few months. Quinn also has his own brief story line as he is threatened by Maeve's attempts to recover the corpse of his beloved Kizira. Maeve plans to reanimate Kizira and find out what deep secret Kizira whispered to Quinn as she died.

     The primary theme of the book is rebellion as Evalle and her Belador friends decide that they've suffered enough indignities from Macha and they're not going to do her bidding any more. This is a very risky move because, after all, Macha is a very powerful goddess. In the author's afterword, Love says, "I hope you enjoyed seeing the new direction the Beladors are going." If that means that Evalle and her allies are going to rise up against all of the people (and gods and goddesses) who have been treating them like dirt since the very first novel, then I'm definitely on board for the ride—especially if there's a chance that Sen will be getting his just desserts!

     This novel definitely changes the tone of the series. In previous novels, and through the early part of this one, Evalle never fought back against the unfair oppression that she was forced to endure. Now, though, she's had enough and she has plenty of powerful allies to back her up. Her relationship with Storm is at its peak, and she is grateful for the safety, security, and love that he provides in her life. (Note: Their wonderful new residence is now complete, with plenty of surprises that Storm put together for both Evalle and Feenix.)

     This is another great addition to an excellent series. Best of all, it beautifully resolves the Tzader-Brina love story—a resolution that has been a very long time coming. The Evalle-Storm love story reaches a new level of maturity in this book as Evalle is finally able to fully accept that she and Storm are meant to be together and that she will take a stand against anyone who tries to break them apart—even powerful individuals like Macha and Sen. Click HERE to go to Rogue Belador's Amazon.com page where you can read or listen to an excerpt by clicking either on the cover art or the "Listen" icon.

                          WORLD-BUILDING                           
     This series serves up a fresh and inventive urban fantasy world set in an alternate Atlanta, where the Belador tribe is a supernatural race with varying magical talents (e.g., teleportation, kinetic energy force, mind control, mental telepathy). Each Belador has his or her own particular set of powers. The Belador are the good guys of the supernatural world. They are the major players in the Vigilante International Protectors Elite Regiment (VIPER), which is "a multinational coalition of all types of unusual beings and powerful entities created to protect the world from supernatural predators" (Blood Trinity, p. 10). 

     The sassy, independent heroine is E. Valerie Kincaid (aka Evalle, Eve), who is not a Belador, but an Alterant, a half-breed species with an ancestry that is part Belador and part unknown. The green-eyed Alterants are considered to be little more than animals by the other supernaturals because they have so little control over their shift to their bestial form. So far, Evalle has never had an uncontrolled shift. She has magical abilities that include see-in-the-dark eyesight and various energy weapons (e.g., fireballs). On the con side, Evalle is light sensitive to the point that she must wear opaque sunglasses even at night and cannot be in the sun for even a moment without combusting. Evalle has had a horrible childhood (locked in a basement by her aunt for 18 years) and a rough adulthood (being constantly sneered at and persecuted for her half-breed ancestry). Although Evalle is a VIPER enforcer, many do not trust her because under stressful conditions, there is always the possibility that she might shift into an uncontrollable beast (double rows of sharp fangs, long claws—you know the drill).

Here is a list of ongoing supporting characters who are Evalle's friends and/or supporters:
   > Brina: Queen of the Beladors
   > Isak Nyght: an ex-military human who leads a black ops team that hunts down and kills supernatural predators, particularly Alterants (an Alterant killed his brother), he's attracted to Evalle even though he despises all nonhumans
   > Nicole: a witch who befriends Evalle
   > Vladimir Quinn: a psychic Belador who meets and befriends Evalle when they are imprisoned together in book 1
   > Storm: Evalle's primary love interest, he is part Ashaninka Spiritwalker and part Navajo Skinwalker
   > Tzader Burke: Maistir (sic) of the North American Beladors who meets and befriends Evalle when they are imprisoned together in book 1

Here is a list of the ongoing bad guys and the characters who may go either way:
   > Cathbad: Druid prophet, husband of Flaevyn and father of Kizira
   > Flaevynn: evil, power-mad queen of the Medb Coven
   > Kizira: Medb witch, priestess, and enforcer who is the daughter of Flaevyn and Cathbad; she hates her mother and wants Brina's lands for herself; she is in love with Quinn
   > Macha: goddess worshipped by the Beladors, who is sometimes supportive and sometimes callous
   > Sen: mysterious, powerful VIPER of unknown ancestry who despises Evalle for unknown reasons
   > Tristan: an Alterant who is Evalle's enemy in books 1 and 2, but who eventually becomes an ally

     Love wrote a short story ("Midnight Kiss Goodbye") about Trey (a VIPER enforcer) in Dead After Dark, but it doesn't really contribute much to the world building for the series.

     Click HERE to go to a page on Kenyon's web site that features photographs and biographies of the main characters in all her series, including the BELADOR series. Once you locate a character, just click on his or her photograph to get the bio.

     Kenyon and Love are both veteran story tellers, and this shows. The characters are complex, the plot and sub-plots are compelling, and the world building details are well drawn. This is a great new series. Beware though, this is not a typical Kenyon romance like the DARK-HUNTER series. On her web site, Kenyon calls this a paranormal thriller, which she defines as "Urban Fantasy on high octane."       
 
                        NOVEL 1:  Blood Trinity                        
     In the series opener, a demon is raising havoc in Atlanta, killing humans in a manner that suggests the murders were done by an Alterant. Someone is trying to frame Evalle, and she must solve the case before her treacherous and malignant supervisor, Sen, sends her off to life-long imprisonment in a cage. Nothing like a little motivation to keep you on your toes! Evalle's investigation soon leads her into an even more serious problem: The magical Ngak Stone must be recovered before the bad guys can get it and destroy the world as we know it. As in other Kenyon books, the character list includes a huge cast of supernaturals, from warlocks, to ghosts (called nightwalkers), to ancient gods and goddesses.

     Evalle's three best friends are Quinn, Tzader, and Nicole. The prologue to Blood Trinity explains how Evalle meets Quinn and Tzader. Evalle also has a pet: a lisping baby gargoyle named Feenix who provides some comic relief. Now to Evalle's handsome, sexy love interests, of which there are two: Storm and Isak. In the first two books, Isak still believes that Evalle is human. His attraction may dim when he discovers the truth. Both men are definitely attracted to Evalle, and both are over-the-top alphas—but so is Evalle. I have a feeling that Evalle's romantic path is destined to be very bumpy. No real romance yet—just a kiss or two from each prospective lover. Click HERE to read an excerpt from Blood Trinity

                        NOVEL 2:  Alterant                        

     As the second book opens, Evalle is on her way to a hearing before the Tribunal when she is attacked and nearly kidnapped by mercenaries, making her late for her hearing and putting the Tribunal members into a worse mood than usual. Most of the Tribunal members hate Evalle just because she is an Alterant, and they blame her for the recent escape of three imprisoned Alterants. Eventually, the Tribunal commands Evalle to recapture the three escapees, an impossible task because she has no idea where they are. As the plot progresses, Evalle must seek help from Tristan, the Alterant whom she betrayed in the previous book when she sent him back to imprisonment in the jungles of South America. That should tell you something about their relationship (not at all friendly). Storm is also in on the action, and his relationship with Evalle moves ahead a few steps as he helps her with her task and steals several kisses. A second plot thread follows the relationship between Brina and Tzader, whose long-term romance is cruelly manipulated by Macha. And one last relationship thread involves a dangerous clandestine affair between Quinn and Kizira, which doesn't seem to have a chance of succeeding. Once again, the ending has a cliff-hanger feel because not all of the conflict is resolved. This is another great book in what's looking to be a fantastic series, with action-filled plots, complex characters, and plenty of suspense.

     A new type of supernatural being enters the BELADOR world in Alterant: the Rías, who shift into an Alterant-like bestial form, but do not have Alterant powers. Kizira releases a poisonous fog that causes both Rías and Alterants to shift immediately and uncontrollably into their beast form, making them targets of both the VIPERS and Isak's team of hunters. Undoubtedly, the Rías will play a larger role in future books. Here is a quotation from Alterant that explains the origin of the Rías: "Rías were the name given to descendents of a beast-line traced back over a thousand years to the famous warrior Chulainn, who'd had superhuman abilities, as demonstrated by his ríastrad, a berserker-like battle mode during which he shifted into an unidentifiable monster that killed everything in his path." (p. 76) Click HERE to read an excerpt from Alterant.

                        NOVEL 3:  The Curse                        
     The third book picks up shortly after the end of book 2. As the story opens, Storm has been missing for weeks, and Evalle doesn't know if he is dead or alive. Meanwhile, Evalle still must fulfill the bargain she made with the Goddess Macha to save her life in the previous book. Evalle has promised to bring Tristan to Macha and to find out the origins of the Alterants. At the same time, Evalle must continue to do her job with the VIPERS as super-trolls show up in Atlanta, leading attacks that involve humans and attempting to kidnap Evalle and other Alterants.

     Other story threads involve various romantic liaisons between several pairs of characters: Tzader and Brina; Quinn and Kizira; and Flaevynn and Cathbad. A new character is unexpectedly introduced in this book: Lanna, Quinn's cousin, a teen-age witch on the run from an evil wizard in Romania. Lanna manages to get herself quickly into the thick of things in Atlanta and also takes the first steps in a flirtation with the twin witches, Kell and Kardos (street kids who are Evalle's friends).

     In Evalle's romantic life, it turns out that Storm has been in a coma most of the time he was missing, nursed back to health by Evalle's nemesis, Adrianna, the witch. Evalle has some trouble fighting off jealous thoughts, but then the shoe is on the other foot when Storm catches her kissing Isak Nyght. All of the couples mentioned in the previous paragraph are also having mountainous relationship problems. So...complications abound in both the action plot and all of the romantic side plots.


     As the action in the main plot plays out, the story switches back and forth between the good guys and the bad guys as they plan their strategies and carry them out. This is a complex plot, with all sorts of betrayals and half-truths surfacing among the characters on both sides. The most important of these involves Quinn, whom Evalle suspects of traitorous activities. She's right to be suspicious, but Quinn has reasons for his actions. Unfortunately, the authors pull out the old, reliable trope of having Quinn keep his secret from Evalle for her own good. That never works out, and in this case it seems to be an awkward authorial plot manipulation, one of several in this book.


     This isn't as strong a book as the first two. It is actually a transitional, or bridge, novel, with no real resolution of any of the main conflicts. The story switches back and forth so frequently that the continuity gets rather bumpy. The appearance of the bratty young Lanna comes out of nowhere and seems somewhat manipulative on the authors' part, as though Lanna is thrown in just to advance a plot point or two. I'm sure that the evil wizard who is chasing her will also show up at some opportune time in a future book. Another bothersome detail is the authors' use of Irish brogue in all parts of the sections involving Cathbad, the evil Druid. Even the third-person narration in those parts is heavy with brogue. I understand why Cathbad's words and thoughts are in dialect, but why does every single word of the narration follow suit? All in all, I'd rate this novel as just fair—not top notch, but not really awful. If you are following the series, you'll need to read it in order to keep up with events. If you haven't read any of the earlier books, don't start with this one because it's definitely not a stand-alone. Click HERE to read an excerpt from The Curse


                       NOVEL 4:  Rise of the Gryphon                        

     As the story opens, Evalle has just two more days to complete the impossible task that the Goddess Macha gave her in the previous book. She must discover the origin—the true genetic heritage—of the Alterants and then convince five Alterants to swear allegiance to Macha. If Evalle fails, she faces imprisonment or, possibly, death. Evalle knows that her frenemy, Tristan, has the knowledge she needs, but in the previous book Tristan was kidnapped (either that, or he defected) to the Medb Coven, an organization of powerful dark witches who practice black magic and want to destroy the Belador. In the opening scene, Evalle and her skin-walker lover, Storm, uncover a Medb plot to collect and control as many Alterants as possible and then use them against the Belador. It seems that the Medb queen, Flaevynn, knows a great deal about Alterants and their powers, and she plans to use that information for her own benefit.

     According to an ancient prophecy (or curse, as she calls it), Flaevynn is scheduled to die in a few days, and she plans to use the Alterants to help her break the curse and achieve immortality. The key element in the Medb plan is a of series of Beast Club fights—kind of like the ones in the Fight Club movie—in which two combatants fight to the death, with the winners going on to fight in the Achilles Beast Championship. In this case, though, the fighters are all supernatural monsters of the most ferocious kind, with the Alterants at the top of the power heap. Here's a description of one of the monsters: "Sandspur was a caterpillar version of the Michelin man,....Tigerlike black stripes reached around the aqua-colored body with the wide bands narrowing at the tip almost touched on its belly. Sandspur's head resembled a daisy, with three white petals fanning out and huge pink eyes with blue centers....Six black tiger stripes...unleashed, stretching ten feet out on each side. Along the edge of each stripe, tentacles spiked up like shark teeth and sharp pincers clicked at the tops." (pp. 296-297)


     In order to attract as many Alterants as possible, the Medb is promising them immortality. The plot from this point on is much too complex to summarize. I'll just say that even though it drags in a few places, the main story line moves along at a compelling pace, with lots of tension and suspense, pulling in supporting characters as it moves along.


     In the meantime, the doomed romances of Quinn and Kizira and Tzader and Brina are limping along equally rough roads. When these hopelessly smitten lovers pop up, you may wonder why the authors include these scenes because they don't seem to be connected with the main plot, but keep reading because these authors always have a master plan.


     By the end of the book, some of the good guys have died or been injured, some are missing, and some are irrevocably changed. The book's title provides a clue about the latter. Events in this book cause huge changes in Evalle's life, including in her relationship with Storm, which moves into sexy high gear as she realizes that she trusts him with her life and her love. Meanwhile, Storm's nemesis, the female witch doctor, shows up in Atlanta determined to take him back under her control using whatever means are at her disposal. That part of the story is not resolved and apparently will be the central plot of the next book.


     This is another great entry in a solid series. Don't get discouraged when the story bogs down a bit about half-way through, weighted down by its numerous plots and sub-plots. Just keep reading, because everything comes together in the closing chapters, which are filled with sustained suspense and compelling action. I don't recommend this as a stand-alone because you really need the background of the first three books to understand the motivations of the various characters. Click HERE to read more about gryphons. Click HERE to read an excerpt from Rise of the Gryphon.

                      NOVEL 5:  Demon Storm                         

     As the story opens, Treoir Island is still in shambles after the Medb attack that resulted in the death of Quinn's lover, Kizira, and the disappearance of Brina and Lanna (Quinn's cousin). When Brina vanished from Treoir Castle, all of the Beladors lost most of their powers. Although Tzader is an emotional mess because of Brina's disappearance, he must pull the Beladors together so that they can find Brina and restore their lost powers. Quinn is in even worse emotional shape than Tzader, and at first he rebels at doing anything but grieving. But Tzader convinces him to go back to Atlanta and round up the Beladors so that they can make sure that things are under control there. Meanwhile, Evalle goes back to Atlanta to find Storm so that he can track down Brina. 

     Unfortunately, Storm has gone off to follow his estranged and hated mother, Nadina, who tricks him into entering Mitnal, the underworld ruled by Hanhau. Nadina is a powerful Ashaninka witch doctor who spelled Storm's father into impregnating her. Nadina then killed Storm's father and stole both his and Storm's souls. Storm is half Spiritwalker, half Skinwalker—he shifts into a black jaguar. With the dark, demonic blood that he inherited from Nadina, Storm knows that if he is ever forced to remain in jaguar form for very long he will lose touch with his humanity and become a demon that will be controlled by Nadina (thus, the title of this book). To defend himself from Nadina, Storm has spent his life hiding himself from her and has learned both light and dark magic so that he can defend himself if she ever catches up with him and tries to get him under her control. 


     The primary plot revolves around Evalle's efforts to find Storm and then to rescue him from Mitnal. Other story lines center on the situations of some of the other characters: Brina and Lanna's efforts to figure out what happened to them and where they are; Tzader and Quinn's efforts to find Brina and keep Atlanta under control; and Maeve (the Medb queen) and Cathbad the Druid's evil plans to take over Atlanta and then the world. As Tzader's story line plays out, he finally learns the truth about the Goddess Macha's twisted reason for trying to keep him and Brina apart. (Her reason turns out to be kind of anticlimactic
a real letdown, in my opinion.)


     In order to find Storm, Evalle is forced to seek assistance from her old enemy, Adrianna Lafontaine, the beautiful dark witch who nursed Storm back to health in a previous book. Evalle has always been jealous of Adrianna, but she puts her feelings aside when Adrianna agrees to use her dark magic to help—but only if Evalle agrees that she and Storm will perform a future task to fulfill their debt to Adrianna. Evalle also is forced to give up something to the spirits who help her find Storm. At the point that Evalle makes the promises to Adrianna and to the spirits, I gave a little shudder, knowing that they would come back to haunt Evalle in the near future—and sure enough, the spirits take something very precious from Evalle, which makes for a heartrending scene when she becomes aware of what they have done. 


     The plot is labyrinthine in its complexity as Evalle faces deceit and trickery every step of the way on her dangerous journey to find and save Storm. Even when she believes that she has succeeded, she finds that Storm's imprisonment has caused deep changes in him that may be irrevocable and which threaten their future relationship. Brina's story line is also complex and suspenseful as Brina, too, is changed by her disappearance. And then there is the deteriorating situation in Atlanta, where Medb have been popping up everywhere, always just in time to kill a fierce demon. Soon, VIPER and the Tribunal turn against the weakened Beladors and align instead with the Medb, who are helping to kill the demons that are suddenly appearing all over the city. Obviously this is all a set-up planned by Maeve and Cathbad, but Sen and the Tribunal continue to be just as rigid and short-sighted as they always are, so they are taken in by the dastardly scheme. 


     The next book will no doubt deal with Maeve and Cathbad's infiltration of Atlanta and with Evalle's promise to Adrianna. Oh yes, I almost forgot, Evalle also sought help from Isak Nyght and in return had to promise to have dinner with him—on his terms. That can't possibly end well. There is definitely some chemistry between Adrianna and Isak when they first meet, but that soon goes up in smoke when he realizes that she is a dark witch and makes some derogatory personal comments about her being nonhuman and, therefore, evil. Still, their relationship has possibilities for future romantic fireworks.


     Demon Storm has the usual high levels of nonstop action, breath-holding suspense, and emotional drama as Evalle and her allies once more find themselves in deep trouble, but never give up trying to beat back the enemy. If you are a regular reader of this series, you won't want to miss this book. Although the author includes lots of summary information from the previous book, this one should not be read as a standalone. You'll need to know the histories of all of the characters in order to understand exactly what is going on. Click HERE to read an excerpt from Demon Storm.


                         NOVEL 6:  Witchlock                          

PUBLISHER'S BLURB: 
     Witchlock vanished in the 13th century...or did it? If Atlanta falls, Witchlock will sweep the country in a bloodbath. After finally earning her place among the Beladors, Evalle is navigating the ups and downs of her new life with Storm when she's sucked into a power play between her Belador tribe and the Medb coven. Both groups claim possession of the Alterants-turned-gryphons, especially Evalle, the gryphon leader. But an influx of demons and dark witches into Atlanta threatens to unleash war between covens, pitting allies against each other as a legendary majik known as Witchlock invades the city and attacks powerful beings. Evalle has one hope for stopping the invasion, but the cost may be her sanity and having to choose which friend to save. 

MY REVIEW: 
     Like the previous few books, this one has an extremely complicated and multilayered plot that tends to bog down in places. Here are the story lines that are set forth in the first quarter of the book. As the book winds to a close, many of these story lines converge in the obligatory showdown scene that closes the action. At that point, many of the conflicts reflected in these story lines are resolved—but not all. At the end of the description of each story line, I have placed a parenthetical notation(resolved) or (unresolved)to indicate its status at the end of the book.

>> VIPER has allowed unlimited numbers of Medb warlocks into Atlanta even though the Beladors have warned them of the Medbs' treachery. Meanwhile, the gods and goddesses on the Tribunal are getting sick and tired of the constant squabbling between the Medb and the Beladors. Currently, the Medb are requesting that Evalle be appointed liaison between the Beladors and the Medb coven. (partly resolved)

>> The Tribunal is discussing what to do with the Alterants-turned-gryphons. Both Macha and Maeve have claimed them. Evalle is the head of those gryphons, so she is quite concerned about their future. (unresolved)

>> Evalle has a run-in with a mysterious, powerful demon whose body disappears before Sen (the VIPER liaison who despises Evalle and Storm) gets to the scene, and he accuses her of making up a story to get back at the Medb. Storm returns from a mission involving the mysterious death of a troll. Both Evalle’s demon and Storm’s dead troll are connected to sinister plans being cooked up by the Medb warlock, Donndubhán, who is creating demons out of trolls and is planning to turn them into an army. He is being assisted by another warlock, Imar. Donndubhán is sick of serving coven rulers and wants power of his own. Donndubhán’s plans involve faking his own death and linking up with a powerful witch coven. His witchy plans involve framing Adrianna for the demon trolls and then blackmailing her into helping him. Those plans change later in the book when he links up with a more powerful witch. (resolved)

>> Maeve has sent her top soldier, Ossian, into Atlanta in disguise so that he can spy on VIPER. Although not revealed overtly, it is obvious that Ossian has insinuated himself into Rowan's coven and that the two have formed a romantic relationshipwhich may or may not be real on his part. (unresolved)

>> Adrianna Lafontaine calls in a favor owed to her by Evalle and Storm. She wants their help in saving her twin sister, Ragan, who is being held prisoner in another realm—a parallel universe—by Veronika, a powerful witch who is draining Ragan's powers. Veronika has the ability to wield Witchlock“the ability to take possession of another being’s power and control that person’s gifts or abilities…to lock onto any energy and take control.” Veronika is holding Ragan in a realm called Jafnan Mir (aka Forever World). Adrianna wants Evalle to go with her into Jafnan Mir, with Storm staying on Earth to pull Evalle back if she is in danger. Naturally, the rescue comes with a tight time frame—such a tired old trope—and must be completed before a solar eclipse that is due in two days. Disappointingly, when the inter-realm mission takes place, it turns out that there is no apparent reason for Evalle to have accompanied Adrianna—at least not one that I could figure out. This entire story line seems like padding because it serves only to provide a weird bunch of monstrous plants and beasts for Evalle and Adrianna to battle. The scene does nothing to move the plot forward; it is just wasted ink. (resolved)

>> Adrianna has another problem. Because the Medb have inundated Atlanta with their warlocks, the white witches are trying to form their own council. Every witch will be asked to declare whether she will join the white witches or the dark Medb, and Adrianna refuses to join either group. (unresolved)

>> Rowan, leader of the white witches in Atlanta, is having problems organizing her new council. A rabble-rousing, charismatic witch named Hermia is trying to gather together the solitary witches, the ones who aren’t members of covens, and she wants to replace Rowan as the witches' leader. (resolved)

>> Evalle and Storm are dealing with the inevitable emotional trauma of living together in Evalle’s underground apartment, which is also home to her gargoyle, Feenix (who is jealous of Storm) and Lana (Quinn’s cousin, who is hiding from a wizard). Also problematic is Storm’s overprotectiveness, which Evalle cannot abide. He insists that she must never work alone, and she insists that he stay out of her business. Evalle’s friend, Nicole, gives her some good advice about relationships: “The only two skills you need to make a relationship work are communication and honesty.” But neither Evalle nor Storm are very good communicators, so their personal situation goes from bad to worse, even though they love one another deeply. This is another tired trope: the non-communicating lovers who could get their relationship back on track with just one long, honest conversation—a conversation that doesn’t happen until almost too late. Honestly, this story line became very tedious early on in the book because Evalle and Storm are too intelligent to be behaving in such an adolescent manner. Besides, we know from the beginning that they're going to figure it all out by the end of the book, so why waste so much ink on all of the drama? (resolved…for now)

>> Tzader Burke is trying to reunite with his true love, Brina, who lost much of her memory as a result of Noirre majik used on her during the Medb’s attack on Treoir Island and the Castle (in the previous book). When Tzader tries to talk to Brina, she doesn't even recognize him, and that is driving him crazy. (unresolved)

>> Quinn has hidden the body of Kizira, his true love, in an Atlanta cemetery, but he has been spotted by enemies who seek to capture him. Quinn’s next mission is to locate Phoedra, the daughter he never knew he had. In her dying breath, Kizira told Quinn to find Phoedra and to keep her safe. Phoedra is currently 12 years old, and Quinn has no idea where she is. Unbeknownst to Quinn, Maeve has put a bounty on him because he killed a Medb warlock last week, or at least what she is saying publicly. (partially resolved)

     As I said above, these are the story lines that are introduced in the first quarter of the book. From that point, each one grows more complex as new mythology is added and as numerous villains try to gain enough power to take over the world (another tired trope). Unfortunately every single villain is a one-dimensional psychopath, so their constant ranting and scheming are not at all compelling or suspenseful. I had a hard time sticking with this book because of the multiple story lines, the additions to the mythology, the multi-layered political situation, the frequent references to past events from previous books, and the overabundance of crazy villains, not to mention the huge cast of primary characters. It wasn't until the final quarter that the pace picked up and the plot began to come together into a coherent whole. At this point, I'm not sure that I will keep reading this series, but in any case, I will continue to update the title list at the top of this ongoing post, and I will post all of the publisher's blurbs for future books. Click HERE read an excerpt from Witchlock.

                         NOVELLA 6.5: "Tristan's Escape"                           

PUBLISHER'S BLURB: 
     Holidays rate just above Tristan having his fingernails ripped off. He was a fool once over a woman, a human no less, and that little moment of insanity got him imprisoned for four long years. He's never had someone special to share s with and doubts he ever will, but December does matter to the other half-blood-Belador Alterants stuck alongside him on Treoir Island.

     To help his friends, Tristan has been secretly teleporting them to Atlanta for short visits. Sure, the Belador goddess warned him not to teleport in and out of Treoir's hidden realm without her permission, but she ranks below holidays for Tristan. Screw her. His secret trips are going great until Elaine "Mac" Mackenzie, the five-foot-six, red-haired genius Tristan vowed to pay back for the four years he lost, steps between Tristan and a powerful sorcerer with a deadly agenda. If Tristan exposes his preternatural abilities in the human world, he'll forfeit his freedom forever. Saving her may destroy his world, but once he has Mac back in his arms, no one else is going to touch her.

MY REVIEW: 
     We met the Alterant, Tristan, way back in book 1 when Evalle found him locked in a magic cage in the South American jungle. In this novella, we get his back-story. 

     Tristan always assumed that his new lover, Elaine "Mac" Mackenzie, betrayed him five years when he was captured by the Beladors just a day after Mac discovered his glowing green eyes. He believed that she turned him in for a monetary award and has hated her ever since. Mac, on the other hand, has hated Tristan for the same amount of time because she believes that he deserted her after their night of wild love-making. Midway through the story, the two learn the truth about what happened, but until that point, they bicker back and forth in true, stereotypical paranormal romance fashion.

     As always, this story has multiple villains: a greedy sorcerer, a human "scientist" (another old trope), and Mac's abusive brother and uncaring father. And then, of course, there is the goddess Macha, who will surely punish, and maybe kill, Tristan if she learns that he has been secretly teleporting Alterants between Treoir Island and Atlanta. 

     The story is set during the Christmas holidays, and the Treoir Alterants want to go home to Atlanta to visit family and friends, so Tristan has been teleporting them, using his new power that he received after drinking a witch's potion in a previous book. The last Alterant needing a ride is Bernie, who wants to reunite with his new girlfriend (who turns out to be anything but a friend). When Tristan learns that Evalle is making an unexpected visit to Treoir for the holidays, he knows that he needs to bring his sister Petrina back from Atlanta or she will be punished. Bernie convinces Tristan to take him to Atlanta and then bring him back when he picks up Petrina.

     Mac is the adopted daughter of a wealthy U.S. senator who wants her to "stop chasing unicorns" and come back to the family estate and live a respectable life. Mac left home when she was eighteen and has made her way through life with no help from her family. In fact, her brother has kept her out of universities and prevented her from getting jobs every chance he got. Finally, she managed to get a scholarship to a university in Georgia, where she earned degrees in genetics and mythology (thus, the "unicorn" remark). She has just accepted a job with Jacob Kossman, a wealthy man who funds laboratories specializing in rare genetics. His all-consuming goal is to prove that supernatural beings exist. Mac doesn't know anything about Kossman's dark side, and she definitely has no idea that Kossman plans to capture supernaturals.

     Although Tristan's and Mac's story lines begin separately, they meld together about half-way into the novella when Kossman assigns Mac to a mission in which Tristan is captured. Then a double-cross occurs when the sorcerer gets involved. As usual, this plot is complicated. Although some of the conflicts are resolved, I'm sure that we will be hearing more about Kossman and his supernatural mission. Also, Tristan still has to figure out a way to get back and forth to Atlanta to see Mac without Macha or Evalle catching on to his absences. So in that sense, this is a transitional story with more to come.

     This novella is typical of the series, with its convoluted plot structure and reliance on familiar paranormal romance tropes, but if you are a fan of the series you'll probably want to read it because of the references to Jacob Kossman and his probable presence in future novels.

     This novella also contains a fragment of a BELADOR WORLD Halloween story entitled “Haunted Memories” that features Grady the Nightstalker, Evalle’s ghoul friend. One night in an Atlanta cemetery, Grady helps out a girl who is being bullied by her mean-girl sister and her gang of no-good friends. Click HERE to read an excerpt from "Tristan's Escape."

13 comments:

  1. When I went to the author site and book publishing sites, I could not find anything about "Eve of Destruction (Fall, 2011)." I did find Book 2, "Alterant" scheduled to be released 09/27/2011.

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  2. Please see question and answer #6 on the FAQ page of this blog. Thanks.

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  3. Thanks for sharing our Belador series with others. Regarding the "Eve of Destruction" - after the publisher put that title in the back of Blood Trinity and the book was already released we found out there is another paranormal series built around a character named "Eve" with the name in all the titles, one of which was Eve of Destruction. Rather than confuse that author's fans we changed the title of ours to ALTERANT, which actually fits our newest Belador story better. So that's a win-win for everyone. :)

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  4. i just read books 1 & 2 and i was blown away by it! my only concern is this: when will book 3 be release? because i've been searching for the release date but i've come up with nothing...

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  5. Any info on the 3rd book in the Belador series?

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    1. Love's site says #3 will be out September 2012.

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  6. I had a box of hand me down books and Blood Trinity was in it, fell in love with the story and I had to find the second, Alterant, which was confusing because of the Eve of Destruction title, but I got it from the library. Now just waiting for The Curse! For just a random book to pick up, I couldn't keep my nose out of it, now I'm obsessed with getting the third book!

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  7. I am addicted! Just finished book 3 and anticipate 4. Very well written and followable. You pick riight back up where you left off. May the series continue for as long as Evalle can keep out of jail and have all alterants pledge to Macha. Hope it never happens so it doesn't end. Must say I happy danced in the store when I saw the book. I'm a 36yr old woman and no shame when it comes to this book. A MUST read.

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  8. When is book 4 available?

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  9. ANy timeline on when book 4 Rise of the Gryphon will be available?

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  10. Any info on "Demon Hunter?"

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  11. Just finished Rise of the Gryphon and I have the entire series just waiting for the fifth book Demon Storm to arrive, do you have any idea when I can look for that to arrive. I am glad there is a fifth book to the series, I was sad thinking this would be the last book of the series.

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  12. Can't wait for book 5 to come out on pins and needles when will Demon Storm be released love the characters in this book

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