Kathleen's Reviews > Dark Skye
Contents include a few explicit sex scenes and lots of bloody gore. Language includes several F-bombs but no religious cussing and no demeaning terms for female anatomy (kudos).
I listened to the audio, narrated *superbly* by Robert Petkoff, so I probably have misspelled some names.
This is the "epic story" of Thronos and Lanthe, a tale of everlasting love, beginning in childhood. Sweet, poignant, amusing, sexy, suspenseful, and sometimes a tearjerker. Thronos totally adores his little Lamb. He's a hard hot hunk with huge heart. Loved him. Thronos, the great "reader of words" and Lanthe, "keeper of keys, opener of doors" (funny scene).
We get some witty dialogue, some sizzling sexual tension, and an entertaining adventure battling dragons, buzzy bugs, demons, etc. Lanthe and Thronos make their way through four worlds, similar to the Treasure Hunt in No Rest for the Wicked. On the four planes, Lanthe and Thronos must alternatively hurt, then leave, then cleave, and finally shine, according to Nebulous Nix.
Much of the book takes place on Inferno. It's also called Pandemonia. (Why not Pandemonium, I wondered. Or did I mishear?). The place is a mix of Dante's Inferno, Greek myths, and Milton's Paradise Lost. It is on this hellish plane that Lanthe first begins to suspect that heavenly Skye is not all it's cracked up to be.
Character development: Thronos must come to terms with his true nature, abilities, and origins (I liked those parts, but this unveiling needed further development). He must also learn to forget the past to forge a future with Lanthe. Gripping scenes, when he finally saw the light, via a Groundhog Day trope.
Relationship development between Thronos and Lanthe is credible and absorbing. I liked the slow development of trust, truth, and fierce loyalty. Sometimes I got annoyed and impatient with Lanthe. She seemed shallow and selfish for a long while.
Quibble: I felt the overarching plot, via Nix, went off on a tangent. Nix is petitioning the goddesses for a new position (in itself, a bizarre twist). Meeting with the goddesses, she foretells who the REAL ENEMY is in this excerpt:
Heketee asked: "You've been working to ally factions of immortals for the Accession, assisting Lorians of different species to find their mates. From what I understand, we are to have a rash of different halflings in future generations...Why are you tirelessly seeding halflings and renewing old alliances? To battle what foe?"
Nix breathed, "The Møriør."
The other goddesses tensed at the mention of The Bringers of Doom. They didn't speak of the Møriør lightly.
The Valkyrie [Nix] seemed unaware of the stir she'd caused. "All the harbingers are there. They descend upon us. Though the Accession exists to cull the immortal population, mortals and gods alike should fear this one....That's why I'm here. Only a divinity with this Pantheon's resources could unite all of the factions.... I will rise from the ashes of the old ways to become Phoenix, Goddess of Accessions." (hide spoiler)]
So, a major plot twist, revealing the real enemy. First it was faction versus faction. Then it was Pravus versus Vertas. Now this enemy, and the implication of a delayed confrontation, in 20 years or so. It felt like Cole is taking a left turn in the series-wide plot, but that's her right, and she explains it to some slight extent, so I'm good (enough) with it, for now. See where it goes, but hoping she doesn't drag it out.
Some of my series-wide concerns, listed below, are addressed in this book. We make some progress with Furie, imprisoned under the sea. We hear just a vague mention of the Well of Souls. There is some movement in the plot thread regarding locks of Valkyrie hair and the Wraiths that guard Valkyrie's home. The Accession twins are born to Holly, and apparently they are pretty much untouchable warriors already, in infancy. (Nice to see Holly and Cadion again, happy with their babies). No well-known positive secondary characters die, but beloved characters experience pain, fire, and mutilation. Hag, the pretty witch who can find people, is mentioned again.
By the way, did Sebastian and Conrad ever go back in time and bring their family into the future? We heard it in No Rest for the Wicked, and also in Dark Deeds at Night's Edge.
****** Original Prepublication Thoughts *******
Release date moved back. Not sure when it's coming, but I have EXPECTATIONS beyond the long-anticipated romancing of Lanthe and Thronos. Some things need to start happening to lend credence to the integrity of the series as a whole. The Accession must become more epic than it has been. More deadly. Nïx calls it an apocalypse, but no positive key character has died and stayed dead. Good guys have won in every book.
This series -- which I initially found so promising -- is beginning to feel like a highly erotic cartoon disguised as fantasy. The Accession plot is becoming...a joke. Sigh. At least the romance is good.
The big bad Accession must become manifest. Any day now. (*drumming fingers impatiently*) I mean -- hello -- we've had a dozen books hyping it up! According to Malkom in Demon from the Dark: "King Rydstrom wishes me to fight with him in the coming Accession" (p. 422).
Accession described in A Hunger Like No Other (p. 58)
"Bringing prosperity and power to the victors...cosmic checks-and-balances system for an ever-growing population of immortals, forcing them to kill each other off. The faction [singular] that lost the fewest of their kind won."But Cole has created a problem with all the cross-faction mating, because Accession must then become civil war. For as Lachlain ponders in AHLNO, "the Valkyrie had always maintained an uneasy truce with the Lykae...Until the Accession. When all immortals were forced to fight..." And one faction will defeat the rest. One. The Horde faction has emerged victor in the last three (or four?) Accessions.
However, with no explanation, Cole deviated from her original prophecy in AHLNO, about one faction winning. In Dark Desires After Dusk, she suddenly discusses the Lore factions as either Pravus (evil) or Vertas (good). Is she changing the game? Not factions versus factions but good versus evil? If so, she needs to explain why.
As also prophecied, a child of "the vessel" is born "for each Accession" (every 500 years). "The vessel's firstborn will be the ultimate warrior for either good or evil" (chap 9 Dark Desires After Dusk.) The last four vessel-borne have been evil über-warriors, for two millennium.
So...Holly must bear a child, and the child must grow to make a difference to the Accession outcome -- born "for" the Accession. Presumably that implies that something relative to the Accession will come of the birth. It also follows that competing bad factions will try to kill Holly's child before it reaches warrior status.
The red wraiths who guard Val Hall in exchange for a lock of Valkyrie hair must gain enough strands to create a braid, and thereby gain control over all the Valkyrie for a short time. What will they make the Valkyrie do? I have seen that foreshadowed in nearly every book so it must be important to the plot, or it's just words.
The Well of Souls. What ho?? See Kiss of a Demon King
Freya and Wóden. Will they ever wake up? Else, why are we repeatedly reminded that they are sleeping, while other gods and goddesses are awake?
Valkyrie Queen Furie, in chains under the sea. Will she throw fits when she learns about the inter-species marriages, as the Valkyrie worry? This is foreshadowed in probably every book.
By the end of the series, there must be a resolution to these points, or the entire series loses points on plot cohesion, consistency, and connectivity. If Cole changes the game midplay, that could be okay, if she justifies or at least explains the changes to this reader. Making it up as you go along and changing the rules at will is inconsiderate and sloppy.
I have no idea how Cole is going to pull it off, but starting a new Dacian series seems like a distractor, unless she plans to involve Lothaire's Kingdom of Myst and Blood in the Accession resolution.