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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Angela Knight: MAGEVERSE

Author: Angela Knight 
Plot Type: SMR
Ratings: V5, S4, H3 
Publisher and Titles:  Berkley
     “Seduction’s Gift” in Hot Blooded anthology (8/2004)
      Master of the Night (10/2004)
     “Galahad” in Bite anthology (12/2004)
      Master of the Moon (5/2005)
      Master of Wolves (4/2006)
     “Moon Dance” in Over the Moon (2/2007) 
      Master of Swords (10/2006)
      Master of Dragons (6/2007)
     “Vampire’s Ball” in Hot for the Holidays anthology (9/2009)
      Master of Fire (3/2010)
      Master of Smoke (1/2011)
      Master of Shadows (8/2011)
      Master of Darkness (7/2012) (FINAL BOOK)

     This blog post was revised and updated on 10/1/12 to include a review of the ninth and FINAL book in the series, Master of Darkness. That review appears first, followed by an overview of the series world-building and reviews of books 7 and 8:    

          BOOK 9:  Master of Darkness          
     Because this is the final book in the series, you know from the beginning that it must end with the ultimate showdown between the Magekind and Warlock, the villainous leader of a Direkind army. That inevitability doesn't mean that there is a lack of suspense and compelling action, howevernot to mention lots of hot, steamy love scenes. The protagonists here are Miranda Drake, Warlock's rebellious, witchy daughter, and William Justice, a Latent law enforcement officer who was bitten and changed to a werewolf in the line of duty. Justice has been serving as Miranda's bodyguard, and, as we saw in the previous book, the couple has the hots for each other, even if they don't at first admit it to othersor to themselves.

     As the story opens, Warlock has sent two of his Bastardsbitten Direkind whom he has imbued with powerful death magicto kill two Magekind agents in Pakistan. One turns into a 60-foot-long, poisonous snake, and the other is an armored werewolf centaur the size of a truck. While Miranda and Justice are investigating this horrible crime, one of its victims gives the couple a prophecy that involves a visit to Maeve, the fairy queen for more information on their prophesied roles in the war with Warlock. The plot follows Miranda and Justice as they fulfill the prophecy and move towards their climactic clash with Warlock. 

     The romance plot proceeds just as bumpily as usual, with Miranda fearing Justice's alpha strength because of her past abuse by dominant alpha werewolves—plus the fact that Warlock has put a fear spell on her. In order for the Miranda and Justice to complete their spirit bonding and come into their full powers, they must break Warlock's spell. If you've learned anything about the power of love in this series, you can predict the ending.

     This is an action-filled conclusion to a terrific series. The build-up to the final battle is full of suspense and tragedy, and the romance is fiery, angst-filled, and graphically portrayed. Please don't read this book if you haven't read the earlier ones because you'll miss all of the history of this complex world and its star-crossed lovers. Click HERE to read an excerpt.

     In this book, Miranda and Justice (and the reader) learn from Maeve of the existence of another realm called the Elementalverse: "A dimension parallel to this one, a universe where magic is an even more power force than it is here." (p. 202) Then, at the very end of the book, we are introduced to some of the characters in Knight's brand new series, THE FAMILIARS. Click HERE to read more about that series. (You'll have to scroll down the page a bit.)

     Angela Knight knows just how to tell a story in this series that is a mash up of characters from mythology, history, and legends. For example, all of the famous Arthurian characters live on in the twenty-first century in this series. Sir Gawain rides a Harley; King Arthur wears a Grateful Dead T-shirt; and Llyr, the fairy king, has to use a credit card instead of a bag of gold to pay for his motel room. Demons, dragons, fairies. and shape-shifters are also part of the mix. In book 1, a horde of vicious, energy-sucking vampires are unleashed on the world, and the ensuing books involve tracking them down. Later in the series, Warlock (a black-hearted, magical shape shifter) tries to start a war between Magekind and Direkind. Each book tells one couple’s SMR story. 

     The Mageverse is an alternate dimension where magic is one of the universal forces. Characters can move freely between the Mageverse and mortal earth through gates, or portals. The Mageverse is inhabited by two very different groups: the Magekind (vampires) and the Direkind (werewolves).   

The Magekind (immortal):
     The original Knights of the Round Table swore an oath to Merlin (who, in this world, came to earth from another planet) to protect mortals against their own self-destructive actions. Men who drank from the Holy Grail became vampires (Magi), while women who drank became witches (Majae). Magekind can mate and reproduce with mortals. Their children are called Latents and can become Magi or Majae, but not all do. The Majae and Magi live in the realm of Avalon, along with dragons and fairies (Sidhe). 

The Direkind (long-lived but not immortal):
     Merlin also created the Direkind (shape-shifting werewolves) who were meant to protect mortals against any Magi or Majae who turned against humanity because Merlin was worried that the Magekind might become power-mad. Way back in the beginning, Merlin appointed Warlock as the leader of the Direkind. By now, the Direkind mostly believe that Warlock is just a myth, but they are beginning to discover that he is actually real. The Direkind are divided into the Chosen, who are the snooty, aristocratic descendants of those personally selected by Merlin, and the Bitten, who are mortals transformed when they are bitten by a Direkind. The Chosen view the Bitten as unimportant and menialthe unwashed masses. By now, Warlock is quite powerful and quite mad, and he has his own army of Dire Wolves, whom he has personally bitten. He is determined to kill Arthur and the rest of Magekind and take over the world.

     Read-alikes: If you enjoy Sherrilyn Kenyon’s DARK-HUNTER series, you’ll love MAGEVERSE. Both have well-developed, intricate worlds that are rooted in traditional mythology, but with a twist or two that adds spice, humor, and drama.

Here are the happy couples in each book:
   > “Seduction’s Gift”: Lancelot (vampire knight) & Grace (Maja)
   > Master of the Night: Reese Champion (vampire knight) & Erin Grayson (Latent)
   “Galahad”: Galahad (vampire knight) & Caroline (Maja)
   Master of the MoonLlyr (fairy king) & Diana London (werewolf) 
   Master of WolvesJim London (werwolf) & Faith Weston (human, at first) 
   “Moon Dance”: Lucas Rollings (werewolf) & Elena Livingston (werewolf)
   Master of Swords: Gawain (vampire knight) & Lark McClure (Maja) 
   Master of Dragons: Kel (dragon) & Nineva Morrow (fairy princess) 
   “Vampire’s Ball”: Ridge Champion (vampire) & Kat Danilo (Latent) 
   Master of FireLogan McRoy (Latent) & Giada Shepherd (Maja)
   Master of SmokeSmoke (cat/sidthe) & Eva (werewolf)
   Master of ShadowsTristan (vampire knight) & Belle Couer (Maja)
   Master of DarknessWilliam Justice (werewolf) & Miranda Drake (werewolf witch)

***   ***   ***   *****   *****   ***   ***   ***
I'll just summarize the latest two books here:

          BOOK 7:  Master of Smoke          
     Master of Smoke tells the SMR story of Smoke, a multiple-personality, sexy supernatural (elemental + big cat + Sidhe), and Eva, a newbie Direkind (werewolf). Eva stumbles on the scene when Smoke is being drained of his power and his memory by the villainous werewolf sorcerer, Warlock. She saves him, and the couple eventually manages to get Smoke’s memory and powers back as they find their way to their HEA

          BOOK 8:  Master of Shadows          
      Eva and Smoke also play small parts in the next book, Master of Shadows, but the lead protagonists (and lovers) here are Tristan and Belle Couer. Tristan had his heart broken centuries ago by the heartless Isolde, so he's not really ready to commit to anyone else. Belle has been the Court Seducer for centuries. It is her job to approach the human descendants off the original Knights of the Roundtable and seduce them into becoming warriors of the Magekind. To become a warrior (and a vampire), the young recruit must sleep with Belle three times. Here, Belle explaining to William Justice just how she turns a Latent into a vampire warrior: 
     "In our case, the winners drank from Merlin's Grail, and their DNA was altered by the magical potion the cup contained, transforming the men into vampires and the women into witches," she said. "But all of them were immortal. Though their children inherit the DNA containing the spell, the kids are mortal. We call them 'Latents.' A Latent only transforms if the spell is triggered when they have sex at least three times with one of the Magekind. Then they transform into vampires or witches, depending on their gender."
     "Sounds a hell of a lot more pleasant than how we do it." [says the werewolf, Justice]
     "Not if you go insane." Belle winced at a particularly nasty flash of memory. "A blood-mad vampire immediately tries to rip out the throat of the Maja who Gifted him."  (p. 18)

     Not surprisingly, many citizens of Avalon call Belle a whore behind her back. Tristan and Belle are now partners in battle, but both have a difficult time trusting the other enough to become true-bonded partners in life. Beyond the romance plot, Warlock is at it again, creating a monster warrior and causing lots of problems for Arthur and his crew. The Magekind actually lose quite a few of their own in this book, which is rather unusual since they are supposed to be immortal, but they can be killed by beheading, which turns out to be the end result when Warlock imbues his monster warrior with unstoppable magical powers. 

     The plot kicks off when Davon, a young Magus, and his Maja partner murder the teen-age son of a werewolf family. The Magekind pair were tricked by Warlock into believing that Arthur had ordered them to murder the boy, but the werewolves won't be appeased. They want revenge. Since Warlock has bought the votes of most of the werewolf Council of Clans, things don't look good for Magekind, particularly since Warlock's newly made monster is busy killing more werewolves and laying the blame for the crimes on Magekind. The plot follows Tristan and Belle as they try to figure out a way to defeat Warlock and his minions. By the end of the story, Magekind has won a big battle, but the war with Warlock and his Direkind army is yet to be fought. By the end of the book we also get a preview of the next romantic pair: Miranda (Randi) Drake, Warlock's witchy werewolf daughter, and William (Bill) Justice, former sheriff of the Council of Clans. They hate each other as soon as they meet, so we know that they'll be in bed together by chapter 3 or 4, or sooner. The only off note in this book for me was the too-quick transformation of Davon from a naive, new recruit to a fierce, articulate warrior. His character development wasn't quite natural and seemed to be a rather clumsy plot device, a rare misstep for Knight. Otherwise, this book brings you everything you want to find in a MAGEVERSE novel: lots of action, angst, and ardor.

     These stories are always filled with sex and battle action, and this book in no exception. Belle and Tristan make a lovely, angst-filled couple, and Warlock is a suitably evil enemy. I do wish that Warlock had at least one redeemable quality, but alas, that is not to be. If you love MAGEVERSE, you'll enjoy this episode. If you havent' started reading the series yet, don't start here. Instead, go back to the beginning so that you get all of the history and the mythology. 

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