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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Pamela Palmer: FERAL WARRIORS SERIES


Author:  Pamela Palmer
Series:  FERAL WARRIORS
Plot Type:  Soul-Mate Romance (SMR)
Ratings:  Violence5, Sensuality4, Humor1
Publisher and Titles:  Avon 
      Desire Untamed (6/2009)
      Obsession Untamed (7/2009)
      Passion Untamed (8/2009)
      "Hearts Untamed" in Bitten by Cupid (1/2010; also available as an e-book)
      Rapture Untamed (1/2010)
      Hunger Untamed (2/2011) 
      Ecstasy Untamed (10/2011)
      A Love Untamed (12/2012)
      Wulfe Untamed (2/2014) (FINAL??)

     This post was revised and updated on 3/18/14 to include a review of Wulfe Untamed, the eighth, and possibly the FINAL, novel in this series. That review appears first, followed by an overview of the world-building and reviews of novels 5, 6, and 7:    

            NOVEL 8:  Wulfe Untamed            
     First, a brief review of the Wulfe-Natalie relationship: Wulfe first got to know Natalie Cash back in Hunger Untamed when she was badly injured in a Mage attack (at the end of Rapture Untamed) and was kept at Feral House until she was healed. At that point, Natalie's memories were erased, and she was sent home to her job and to her human fiancĂ©. Natalie's blind brother, Xavier, had to stay behind with the Ferals because his blindness prevented the Ferals from stealing his memories. Just before Natalie left Feral House, Wulfe healed the jagged Daemon scar on her cheek, taking it on to his own cheek. The two had developed an attraction to one another, but Wulfe knew that Natalie had to go back to her human life. Since then, he has been visiting her regularly in his wolf form, telling himself that he's doing it for Xavier's sake. Natalie is intrigued by her new furry friend and begins to feel a deep emotional connection with him. Complicating Wulfe's life is the fact that he was the mate of the previous Radiant, Beatrice, who was killed in a Mage attack nine months ago. Although that mating was an unhappy one, the breaking of the mate bond damaged Wulfe in a number of ways. He is now impotent and emotionally drained, and he believes that he is doomed to spend his life alone, without love.

     Just after Wulfe took Natalie's injury on to himself (about a month ago), he began to develop Daemon powers, hearing conversations between the High Daemon Satanan and the the evil mage Inir in his head and then inexplicably spouting all sorts of information about the Daemons that he never knew before. As this novel opens, Wulfe notices that Natalie has developed a colorful aura, which the Ferals' shaman diagnoses as some sort of Daemon energy. Then, a gang of Mage warriors attack Natalie's home, badly wounding Wulfe. With some help from an outside source, the Ferals learn that when Wulfe took on Natalie's Daemon scar, he connected both of them to Satanan, the High Daemon who has possessed Inir. Because the Mages are now trying to kidnap both Natalie  and Wulfe, Natalie moves into Feral House, and their romance begins to blossom.


     The primary action plot completes the ongoing story arc that has been building throughout the series: the final showdown with Satanan and Inir as the Feral Warriors attempt to keep the Daemons in their Daemon Blade prison. The action proceeds at a brisk pace as the Ferals make a last ditch attempt to stop Inir from setting Satanan free even though most of them have lost the ability to shift. During this final battle, the Feral Warriors get some much-needed assistance from a truly unexpected source. The novel's theme is the importance of looking beyond initial assumptions and outward appearances to find the true value of an individual or group. As Wulfe muses, "His scars truly meant nothing to [Natalie], nothing but a chronicle of past events. As hers…would become a sign of her courage and a mark of battles fought." (p. 275)


     The romance doesn't proceed smoothly because Wulfe is so conflicted about his own identityhis scarred and battered physical appearance, his impotency, and his Daemon-infected mind. He tries to turn away from Natalie because he is absolutely certain that she is repulsed by his scars, and he fears that he will hurt or kill her when he is eventually overwhelmed by the Daemon power inside him. Natalie is one of those perfect, Mary Sue heroines who always does the right thing. She is so very, very endearing that everyone at Feral House instantly loves her, and she never ever stumbles into any TSTL moments. In other words, she's a boring heroine, sweet and self-sacrificing to the point of nausea. Wulfe, though, makes a great hero, with his emotional and physical scars and his valiant battle against the Daemonic power that attempts to drag him to the dark side. He really deserves a much more complex and interesting heroine than Natalie. Click HERE to read an excerpt from Wulfe Untamed


     Now that the series story arc is resolved, will there be more FERAL WARRIORS novels? On Palmer's web site's FAQ page, she discusses that very question: "I still have Grizz's and Vhyper's stories to tell, plus there are other new Ferals who need stories. I haven't decided if I'm going to do a few stand-alones or a new series with its own plot arc. I've also been toying with the idea of writing a spin-off series that takes place in the Feral world. Stay tuned!"    


            WORLD-BUILDING            
     The Feral Warriors are immortal shape-shifting soldiers of the Therian race, each able to shift into his animal and having names that mimic that animal (e.g., Lyon, Vhyper, Wulfe, Foxx). As the series begins, there are only nine warriors left, and they are in constant battle with their two enemies, the Daemons and the Mages. The Daemons send their minions, the soul-sucking “dradens,” to attack both warriors and humans, and the Mages try to defeat the warriors through the use of dark magic and bewitching spells. In each book, one of the warriors gets involved with a woman, sometimes human and sometimes supernatural, who turns out to be his soul mate. The men are very alpha, and the women, though frequently plucky, are relatively submissive. The warriors, having been alive for centuries, all have tragic, heart-rending back stories that contribute to extremely high levels of angst. 

     Plots center around the retrieval of the Daemon Blade in which the Daemon leaders have been imprisoned for centuries: "The Ferals had been at war with the Mage pretty much from the dawn of time except for a small period five millennia ago when the two immortal races had pooled their combined power and magic to defeat the High Daemon, Satanan, imprisoning him and his entire Daemon horde in a magical prison, the Daemon Blade (Wulfe Untamed, p. 20)

     The Blade has fallen into the hands of the Mages, who are trying to complete the ceremony to free the Daemons, particularly Satanan. Here is one of characters' explanation of the Daemon Blade: "A few decades ago, a powerful Mage by the name of Inir was infected by dark spirit, wisps of Daemon consciousness left when the Daemons were ripped from this world. We think he was infected with the consciousness of the High Daemon, Satanan, himself....Inir quickly rose to become leader of the Mage, and his sole purpose, now, is to free the Daemons from the blade. His problem is, only the Feral Warriors can do that, and the decision to free them has to be unanimous....which has forced the Mage to get creative. They've tried stripping the souls of the warriors, they've tried creating clones. A few weeks ago, they created a wormhole into the spirit trap, hoping to end the existence of as many of the warriors as possible." (Ecstasy Untamed, p. 90)

     Click HERE to go to Palmer's FERAL WARRIORS page on her web site. That page includes brief character descriptions and back stories, a glossary of terms, and lengthy, scene-by-scene synopses (with spoilers) of all of the books.


     This is a standard SMR series, with plenty of sex, angst, and violence. If you love immortal warrior love stories, you might also enjoy other similar series that are reviewed on my blog. Just go to the CREATURE SEARCH page and scroll down about half-way to the sub-heading "Immortal Warriors." Click on any series title to go directly to the review.  


Here is a book-by-book list of the soul-mate couples in this series:

   > Desire Untamed: Lyon and Kara (Radiant) (Excerpt)
   > Obsession Untamed: Tighe and Delaney (human FBI agent) (Excerpt)
   > Passion Untamed: Paenther and Skye (mage witch) (Excerpt)
   > "Hearts  Untamed": Zeeland (Therian) and Juliana (Therian/Ilina) (Excerpt)
   > Rapture Untamed: Jag and Olivia (Therian) (Excerpt)
   > Hunger Untamed: Kougar and Ariana (Ilina Queen) (Excerpt)
   > Ecstasy Untamed: Hawke and Faith (Therian) (Excerpt)
   > A Love Untamed: Fox and Melisande (Ilina) (Excerpt)
   > Wulfe Untamed: Wulfe and Natalie (human) (Excerpt)

             NOVEL 5:  Hunger Untamed            
    In the fifth novel, we have the story of Kougar and Ariana, who were mated a thousand years ago. She is the queen of the Ilinas, supernatural beings who move between solid human form and transparent mist. Just two years after their mating, Ariana was, seemingly, killed by the Darkness, a mysterious disease that rots the soul and kills the person who is infected. Twenty-one years ago, Kougar learned that Ariana never diedthat she has been alive all this time, and he now hates her with a passionwith passion being the key word here. As the Persuaders sang a long time ago: "It's a thin line between love and hate." (Click HERE for a video version of the song.) 

     Here's a glimpse of Kougar's angst as he, for the bazillionth time, analyzes his feelings for Ariana:
     "Goddess, all he wanted was her out of his life again!
      Yet deep inside him, his cat clawed to reach her, to claim her...as his mate. Their mate.
      No. Not again. They might not be able to sever the bond again, but that didn't mean he had to care what happened to her. He didn't have to love her....He refused to fall for her again.
      But his body burned...desperate to be inside her. It wasn't going to happen....He refused to lose control like that with her again." (p. 120) And on and on and on. 

     At the end of the previous book, a fierce battle between the Warriors and the mages resulted in two of the Warriors being sucked into in a Mage soul trap. The Warriors have only eleven days to free Hawke and Tighe before their animal and physical selves are separated forever, resulting in the death of their physical bodies.  The only supernatural being who can enter a soul trap safely isguess who?the Ilina queen. Wouldn't you know it? At this point, Kougar learns the real truth about what happened a thousand years ago and all is (eventually) forgiven. As the plot line becomes more and more complex, Ariana and Kougar try to figure out a way to rescue the trapped Warriors, keep Ariana and her maidens alive, and repair their own relationship. Naturally, the love-hate passion burns up the pages. A subplot involves Wulfe and Natalie Cash, a human captive. Their story will be told in the eighth novel, Wulfe Untamed. The next book, Ecstasy Untamed, will tell Hawke's story. Click HERE to read an excerpt from Hunger Untamed.

            NOVEL 6:  Ecstasy Untamed            
     As the story opens, the Warriors are expecting a newly marked Warrior to arrive from Poland to replace Foxx, who died several years ago. Hawke is still trying to recover from his week in the spirit trap, but he's having problems with his hawk spirit and is continuing to lose control when under any kind of stress. When the new Warrior, Maxim, arrives with Faith, a pretty young Therian woman, Hawke is dazzled by her, and the feeling seems mutual. But Faith is supposedly meant to be Maxim's mate, so Hawke tries to rein in his feelings. Maxim turns out to be a big jerk, as he looks down his nose at the Warriors, demands a larger room, and treats Faith very badlyboth emotionally and physically. Before long, the Warriors are surprised to learn that when the Ilina queen freed Hawke and Tighe, she inadvertently let loose the animal spirits of the Seventeenthe long-dead Warriors who had been caught in the spirit trap centuries ago. Those freed animal spirits are now marking new warriors to take the place of the lost ones.

     Here, Kara tells the story to Faith: "Five thousand years ago, the Therians gave up their power to shift in order to defeat the Daemons, locking them in an enchanted blade. Only one of each animal retained the power of his animal...As recently as six hundred years ago, there were twenty-six Feral Warriors until seventeen were trapped in a spirit trap, which we now know to be of Daemon origin. The men were killed, and their animals never marked another." (pp. 89-90)


     At first, the Warriors are ecstatic that they will now be at full strength, but their joy soon turns to despair when dark forces interfere with the minds of the new members of the team. The plot follows the Warriors as they deal with yet another Mage scheme to infiltrate their ranks. Hawke must make peace with his hawk, settle the situation with Faith, and fight alongside his comrades against some new, and dangerous, enemies. The twist in this story comes in the identity of one of the newly marked Warriors. This book is typical of the series, with its emphasis on the love story as it carries along the series plot: the Warriors' continuing battle with the Mage forces. Click HERE to read an excerpt from Ecstasy Untamed.


     The Warriors are still dealing with the upset caused by their newest members turning to the dark side. Early in the story they learn that the seventeen new Warriors, who have been marked by dark magic, "are each either the best or worst of their respective animal lines." (p. 55) At this point, there is no way for the Ferals to discern which are truly good and which are irredeemably bad, so they decide that they have no choice but to imprison, and perhaps kill, their newest members. This leads to one of the sub-plots when Grizz, one of the new Ferals, overhears the their plans. He and another new recruit steal a car and run off to find a way to determine which of the new guys are dark and which are true Warriors.

            NOVEL 7:  A Love Untamed            
     The Warriors are still dealing with the upset caused by their newest members turning to the dark side. Early in the story they learn that the seventeen new Warriors, who have been marked by dark magic, "are each either the best or worst of their respective animal lines." (p. 55) At this point, there is no way for the Ferals to discern which are truly good and which are irredeemably bad, so they decide that they have no choice but to imprison, and perhaps kill, their newest members. This leads to one of the sub-plots when Grizz, one of the new Ferals, overhears the their plans. He and another new recruit steal a car and run off to find a way to determine which of the new guys are dark and which are true Warriors.  

     In the primary plot, the newest Fox Warrior, Fox (formerly called Kieran), falls for Melisande, the man-hating, shifter-hating Ilina warrior. Melisande is second to Ariana, queen of the Ilinas, supernatural beings who can turn their solid bodies into transparent mist. Centuries ago, a cheetah shifter named Castin betrayed Melisande, tricking her and seven of her Ilina sisters and allowing them to be captured by the cheetah chief, who believed that he and his men could get their animal forms back by torturing these magical women. Only Melisande survived. "Long ago, she'd been a different person, gifted with the ability to sense the emotions of others and ease their torment. A Ceraph, they'd called her, touched by the grace of the goddess herself...gentle and kind, unable and unwilling to kill. But Castin had changed all that...handing her over to his clan to be raped and tortured mercilessly...They'd all but destroyed her, taking everything she was, leaving a cold-hearted, vengeance-driven warrior in her place." (p. 81) Melisande has shut down all positive emotions and forces herself to be driven solely by her duty to her Ilina sisters.  


     In one of the early scenes, the mages kidnap Kara, the Ferals' Radiant and mate of their leader, Lyon, and the rest of the story is devoted to their attempts to rescue her. When the Ferals learn that Castin may have been involved in Kara's kidnapping, Melisande is determined to track him down and kill him—slowly and painfully. Since Fox and Melisande are assigned to the same search team, there's plenty of time for him to wear down her resistance and get her to admit that she is just as attracted to him as he is to her. Most of the story is devoted to their struggles as they confront many, many (too many) mage traps. It goes like this: fall into a trap; escape; have a few minutes of romantic bantering; fall into the next trap; repeat; repeat; repeat. This goes on way too long—to the point of tedium.   

     Needless to say, Kara is eventually rescued, and Fox and Melisande follow through on their mating instincts. The Grizz story line is left unresolved, except that we do get a strong hint as to the identity of his eventual mate. Another very thin story thread involves Wulfe's long-time devotion to Natalie, the human woman he believes he can never have. Also, Wulfe discovers some new and important information about his genetic heritage that proves useful to his Feral brothers.  


     Although this novel is typical of the series in general, it does get bogged down in the repetitive mage-trap part of the plot, which unfortunately occupies most of the book. Click HERE to read an excerpt from A Love Untamed.   

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