Book Critique - Dark Prince (The Carpathian Novels # 1)
For reviews of other books in this series: Go here
Stars: 4 / 5
Recommendation: If you like paranormal plots with hint of romance, eroticism and the other world abilities involving immortals and vampires along-side humans with super-abilities, then this is a series to go for.
Dark Prince is the first book in the longest series, Dark Series, by Christine Feehan which was published in July of 1999. When I was reading her latest book, 31st in the series, Dark Legacy (My review of the book is here), I noticed that Christine is bringing back characters from older books and realized that I don’t remember much about some of them. All that had made me want to re-read the series from the beginning, where it all started. So here is the review on the very first book in the series which incidentally was her first book too.
Carpathians are a powerful and ancient race who are near-immortals living for thousands of years with powers and gifts that no man can fathom. Despite their gifts and extended lifespans, they are at the age of extinction as fewer and fewer children are being borne and far lesser of females. Without their female counterpart aka "lifemates" the male Carpathians lose the ability to feel emotions leaving the males with hard choice: either become vampire or "greet the dawn" (i.e. commit suicide). In this book we see that there is hope for this race when Prince Mikhail Dubrinsky finds a lifemate in a human female. Christine ventures into the other species or race, Jaguar and Lycan - extra-ordinary humans with abilities of jaguars and wolves - as the stories proceed. But we stick to only Carpathians and Humans for now.
This novel, Dark Prince, has been certainly acclaimed and appreciated as we see that Christine had won quite a few awards for it including 3 of the 9 1999 Pearl ParaNormal Excellence Awards in Romantic Literature (Best New Author of Paranormal Romance, Best Overall Paranormal Romance and Best Shape-Shifter). (More about her awards are listed here). That in itself ascertains that Christine had kicked of a very successful series.
Needless to say that it is still running successfully after almost 19+ years since its inception. She recently released her 75th book Covert Game as part of the Ghostwalker Series. Amazing run she has and can’t believe she is still continuing to write. It amazes me how she remembers the characters, scenes, their natures, allies and friends, fight scenes and everything around different plots across various series without missing a step or causing a flaw. Hats off to her patience and continued imagination to give us readers a thrilling reading experience.
Coming back to the review of this book in question. Mikhail Dubrinsky on the edge of his eternal life, decides to take the honorable path by seeking dawn the following day. And then a whisper of sentence flows into his mind that brings light to his sight and emotions to his soul. A mere human female could do that to him. How can she do that? A mystery Mikhail sets on to solve, and makes this female human – Raven Whitney – his lifemate. But someone have been hunting the Carpathians fearing them to be Vampires and killing them. This nonsensical killings push the Carpathians to further more extinction. What will Mikhail do to remove this threat to Carpathians forever? How will Raven survive with Mikhail and his ways? Will the threat to Carpathians enfold her too? Will Mikhail be the cause of her salvation or become her avenging angel is what one can find once the story unfolds.
Neither the book cover nor the beginning pages inside highlight anything about this book being start of a new series. However Christine introduces a slew of characters, both for and against the Carpathians, with hints of their pasts and hidden secrets. Not reading this book when it was released in 1999, I would say that is a sure sign to have a series at hand.
As for her characters, Raven’s independent and free-spirited soul is a perfect match to the ancient and bossy sensual soul of Mikhail, for her light complements his dark balancing it well. Mikhail’s family and people also have traits that help Mikhail rule well. Just like in any species, Christine gives both good and bad seeds of Carpathians as well, making them more human to the reader – for no one can be flawless, else the world would not be a better place to live.
It only befits that the antagonist be as powerful as the protagonist. Andre is every bit an equal to Mikhail except that he chose the wrong side of the path. I am impressed with the fight scenes that Christine weaves between Andre and Mikhail, almost felt like it was happening right in front of me.
The world of Carpathians is opened to the reader in bits and pieces. I found the Carpathian ways and how one becomes a mate explained in more generic terms. The actual ritual or words are not spelled out as effectively as she had in her future books. Something obviously she is keeping for those books, so she can keep the readers at the edge guessing how it all actually happens.
Another thing that I found was that between sections of the plots there is no clear distinction. All the text rolls off like one big carpet. Perhaps that’s how the books were written then. Repetition of phrasing and using “f” words also is much lesser. And the erotic content is more pleasing than cringing, at least for me.
On a side note, I see card inserts for free books in this book as well. I don’t think anyone uses this format anymore. Oh I wish one would, it is so nostalgic. Also at the end of the book there is a page highlighting about Dorchester Publishing Company and how to reach them online as well as via phone. Although their website dorchesterpub.com doesn’t seem to be existing anymore, apparently the company also doesn’t exist anymore per Wiki. More about that company here. I tried the 1-800 number and it rings but no one answers it and their mail box is filled too. I guess they are closed for good.
Reading a book written in pre-social media era made me remind my childhood and the best things that I had then along with connection with people in real. It would be an interesting journey for me as I read the entire series now to see how Christine transitions from that era to an internet / social-media filled era. I can’t wait to get hold of the next book soon. Definitely a book to pick for a powerful series that follows and enjoyable to read.
a. Lifemate pairs introduced in this plot: Will Christine have a plot for these pairs sometime in future? Since I have read all the books already, I know for sure there isn’t one yet. But hoping she will have some kind of plot around them in future.
i. Eric and Celeste – Celeste is pregnant with child.
ii. Vlad and Eleanor - Eleanor is pregnant with child.
iii. Tienn and Diedre – take up the responsibility of Rand and Noelle’s male child.
b. Noelle and Rand have a male child. Have to see what happens to him in later plots.
c. Other Carpathians we meet are – Gregori Daratrazanoff (right hand to Mikhail, a powerful Carpathian healer, and an equally powerful Carpathian that even Mikhail perhaps cannot kill if he turned ), Jacques Dubrinsky (Mikhail’s brother), Byron Justicano (Jacques’ best friend and would become his right hand if ever Mikhail succumbs), Aidan Savage (a golden-eyed Carpathian who is sent to United States)
2) Plot reveals:
a. Noelle – Mikhail and Jacques’ sister – is married to Rand although not a true lifemate to each other. Noelle gets killed in this book by the vampire hunters. And Rand is sent to a healing sleep. I don’t remember much of Rand in the remaining books, but curious to see if I will come across him again when I re-read them.
b. Gregori demands from Mikhail to give him a lifemate through Raven or another pair who can provide a lifemate for him. An obvious segue that Christine throws in for her story about Gregori.
c. Andre, the vampire, that Mikhail kills in this book has the same name as another Carpathian, Andre Boroi, whom we meet in the 28th book Dark Ghost. I am just surprised that Christine reused the name since she rarely does so.
d. Gregori sends Aidan to United States to aid the Carpathians. Another clear segue that Christine throws at the readers of what we will see in the remaining books and that the plots will extend beyond the Carpathian Mountains.
3) Grammatical / Geographical / Location / Character / Historical Errors:
a. Mikhail’s sister is Noelle. However on Pg. 43, second line, it is mis-entered as “Nicole”.
4) The Carpathian ritual requires three blood exchanges for a female to convert and bond, according to Christine in rest of the books in the series. However I found only two exchanges happening between Mikhail and Raven (Yes, I read the entire book twice before I wrote the review). May be it was a miss by the author or she genuinely might have wanted only two exchanges and later revised it to three from the second book onwards.