Book Critique - Dark Legend (The Carpathian Novels #8)

For reviews of other books in this series: Go here

Stars: 3.5 / 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 Legend is the eighth book in the longest series, Dark Series, by Christine Feehan which was published in January of 2002. The primary plot revolves around Gabriel Daratrazanoff - one of the legendary twins, an ancient, who had been thought lost to the Carpathians - and Francesca Del Ponce - an ancient female Carpathian and a healer.

The events of the plot happen a few years after the sixth book Dark Fire, although not really shown as to how long after. A natural segue into the plots for the Dark Twins since we hear about them more extensively in the previous two books, Dark Challenge (fifth book) and Dark Fire (sixth book). I felt that this book does not show any continuity with the novella, Dark Dream, which was the seventh book in the series.

Although this plot didn’t win many awards as Christine's previous books, Dark Legend did make the Finalist for the 2002 PEARL Awards for Best Shapeshifter and Finalist for the 2002 Dorothy Parker Award for Best Paranormal.

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). Now that Prince Mikhail Dubrinsky finds a lifemate in a human female who has immense psychic abilities and is capable of converting, there is hope for all the other Carpathian males who have been holding off from turning into vampires – the very creature that they hunt and kill to save the humans and Carpathians alike.

Gabriel is woken from his centuries of sleep and finds the city of love, Paris, changed a lot from what he remembered prior to him going to the eternal sleep. And the first thing that he gets drawn to is towards Francesca Del Ponce - a powerful Carpathian healer. Knowing that she should not be tying herself to Gabriel and that she was willing to give her life for his, she gives the nourishment to Gabriel that he much needed.

But Gabriel sensing her resolve, he claims her the Carpathian style and changes her path irrevocably. Now he has to not only fight Francesca to keep her, he also has to fight his deadly twin, Lucian - one who is reputed to have turned to the dark-side and become a vampire. Thus the dangerous mission for Gabriel and in part for Francesca continues through the plot enchanting and charming the readers despite the shivers.

After reading about the Dark Twins - Gabriel and Lucian - from the beginning of this series and wondering if one of them had truly turned a vampire, if so, which one, finally Christine gives the readers a powerful plot for them. Although this plot is centrally about Gabriel and Francesca, it is very hard to miss the presence of Lucian and the eternal war between the twins. Then readers are introduced to Skyler Rose - a ward of Gabriel and Francesca - who has had her share of nightmares in her life.

In part the plot revolves around these four characters making all of them important for the plot. Yet it doesn’t take away the limelight from Gabriel and Francesca. The plot also introduces so many details that seem very minor and inconsequential. But as the series progresses one will see that they become more prominent and important. The very apt example is the wolf stuffed toy with vivid blue eyes. Gabriel picks this out for Skyler from a store. Keep a watch on this little tidbit and you would be surprised how it evolves in Christine's future plots. Which is a typical trend of Christine's books, although this book had many more details than normal.

It always makes me wonder how Christine keeps track of so many details and scenes between so many characters, not only in just one series but with all her seven series of books. I am guessing she has multiple drawing boards and a room full of details captured in several post-its. :)

We have already read about Aidan Savage (in the third book Dark Gold) and Julian Savage (in the fifth book Dark Challenge) - the Golden Twins. However, Gabriel and Lucian form the true twins per my opinion. They are so in tuned with each other, despite his fears that Lucian had turned a vampire, Gabriel cannot break the bond. How they share things with each other through their bond, how Gabriel always followed Lucian and how they had perfected their hunt together. Christine also shows the tremendous responsibility and pain that Gabriel suffers and bears, for he is the only one who truly can try to kill Lucian. This emphasizes Gabriel's character a lot.

Francesca is a perfect fit for Gabriel - her light with healing power is exactly what Gabriel needs to fight his tremulous and dangerous beast. She is very elegant yet powerful, very empathetic yet can be a true warrior when needed. And a true partner to Gabriel in every way. Despite the strong character portrayal of Francesca and Skyler, I was drawn to the bond and relationship between Gabriel and his twin Lucian. So much so that I didn’t want Lucian to be the vampire.

Although Christine does not bring a lot of the characters from her other books, she does mention about Gregori Daratrazanoff, Mikhail Dubrinsky, Aidan Savage and his lifemate Alexandria, Julian Savage and Dimitri Tirunul in passing conversations between Gabriel, Francesca and Lucian. However she does tie up plots together - in this case she brings the long ago scene between Julian Savage and Gabriel; a scene that we had already read in Dark Challenge, where Julian talks about it to his lifemate Desari Daratrazanoff.

This little connections that Christine provides to the readers in her plots always astounds me. The ending is so perfect and heart-wrenching, I went back and re-read it more than once. Every emotion is wrenched out of the reader's heart.

We see the beginnings of repeat paraphrasing with this book, at some places more than needed. However, that is Christine's style of writing and has indeed become successful.

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. 

Another powerful erotic plot woven by Christine Feehan keeping us thoroughly entertained and immersed into the world of Carpathians. As always the fight scenes are excellent and love scenes are very romantic, not yet erotic. Christine has certainly left the readers with so many minute details that they would be craving to read those details becoming important in future plots. Watch this space for more reviews of the next books in the series.

Spoiler Alerts:

1. Plot reveals:

a.  It is interesting to read that Lucian had felt the presence of Francesca time and again and that she was Gabriel's lifemate, although Gabriel had not felt it. Perhaps a connection between twins that acts different. And that is why perhaps Lucian led Gabriel to Paris time and again, since Francesca was settled in Paris.

b. Gabriel talks about a particular event in his life a long time ago where he had caught Julian Savage eavesdropping on a conversation that Gabriel and Lucian were having with Mikhail and Gregori. He mentions that he had felt a dark presence and never examined him. This same scene but from Julian's point of view, Christine had told us in Julian's story Dark Challenge.

c. Christine explores further on the reasons behind why many Carpathian children don't survive beyond their first few years as children. Her character Francesca explains this in a bit more detail.

d. Aidan Savage sends his housekeeper's son Santino and his wife Drusilla to aid Gabriel and Lucian in keeping their house and look after Skyler Rose when they were below ground during the day light hours. They also have a human bodyguard, Jarrod Silva, to guard Skyler.

e. Francesca muses if her child would be one of those rare females since she had perfected the art of living like a human and walking in the sun. I don’t remember Christine elaborating on Francesca's child further beyond this book, but since I am re-reading them I might find that connection again.

f. Francesca assures Lucian that there is someone in this time of his life who would be his lifemate. If anything else wouldn’t give the readers a hint, this would. It is a clear segue that the next book would be about Lucian.

g. Barry Woods, a reporter in this plot is not meted with justice or purged of the vampire's influence or any more exploration of his mind to understand about the Society of Vampire Hunters by Christine. Will he be a returning character in future plots is something we have to wait and see.

2. Sub-Plots:

a. I still would love to ask Christine Feehan when I meet as to why she didn’t have Barack claim Syndil early on, why make him wait till after Darius makes his clam on Tempest in the sixth book Dark Fire? Also why not a separate book or a novella for Barack and Syndil instead of spreading their story within two books - fifth book Dark Challenge and sixth book Dark Fire?

b. The fifth and sixth books in the series, Dark Challenge and Dark Fire respectively, are part of a trilogy within the series. However, the books that follow Dark Fire are not yet part of the trilogy. Will have to see which book closes this trilogy.

c. Unique / Repeat Characters who are not Carpathians but with the possibility of them being expanded by Christine Feehan in future books:

i. Gary Jansen is for the first time introduced in the fourth book, Dark Magic. Having already read the remaining books I totally forgot when Gary's character was introduced. It has been 18 years that his character has surfaced and I still didn’t see a story for him. Not sure what is Christine waiting for but would love to see his story soon.

ii. Christine reveals the possibility of more Carpathians being settled in South America as part of a discussion between Julian and Darius in the fifth book Dark Challenge. Another segue into future plots that could be set in South America.

iii. Cullen Tucker, a human, joins the singing troupe Dark Troubadours, in the sixth book Dark Fire, when he braves the Society, goes against them and comes to the troupe to warn them of the evil plans. I don’t remember him much in the first time I read these books, only that Gary Jansen had been a constant through the series. May be this time around I will find more about him.

iv. Christine introduces the Jaguar Species with the plot in the seventh book, Dark Dream, albeit only as a conversation by Vladimir Dubrinsky. However, we as readers all know that this is an obvious segue with regards to her upcoming books and what we could see. In this case, we will see plots around Jaguar pretty soon.

v. In Dark Dream, Sara Marten adopts seven sewer children - three girls and four boys - all with psychic abilities. Will Christine bring these seven back as adults and have plots for them too?

vi. Skyler Rose Thompson is first introduced in this eighth book, Dark Legend, as a 14 year old girl who is battered and injured in every way. Above all she is a psychic. I am sure we will see more of her as the series proceeds. She is shown to be in contact with someone from distant, and Gabriel thinks it’s Lucian who was, but it wasn’t in the end. We will have to wait and see who that would be, although I know it since I am re-reading all the books again. She also has a huge affinity towards wolves, that is a clear segue into who that hidden person in her mind would be. She can also talk to animals.

d. Perils that the Carpathians face:

i. In the second book, Dark Desire, Rand mixes some kind of poison in his blood and infects Jacques and Byron which causes them to severe the mental path the Carpathians share. I have to see if in future books Christine elaborates on this and finds a remedy for the Carpathians.

ii. Few children who have born are Males, most not surviving the first year of their life. No one knows why females are rarely born, although now they discover that paring a Carpathian male to a Human psychic female will give them female kids. However, no one knows why most kids don’t survive the first year.

iii. Vampires are congregating suddenly and attacking in coordinated methods as opposed to their solitary existence posing a tough battle for Carpathian hunters while hunting them. They are using minions to wreak havoc on both Carpathians and humans alike.

iv. Vampires also learned a hypnotic dance that they try in hoping to transfix the Carpathian hunters during the battle. They have learnt to create a holding spell.

v. Society of Human Vampire Hunters who constantly hunt the Carpathians mistaking them to be Vampires.

vi. The undead's minion - human converted to ghouls by the Vampire - have learned the ability to attach themselves to a hunter like a shadow using a difficult spell obviously imprinted by the Vampire on to the hunter. They could also use animals such as rats, birds and insects to pry into other's lives through their eyes.

vii. The antagonist Vampire who was after Sara Marten in Dark Dream, as he needed her help to track the tomb of the master wizard and book of knowledge that will give anyone who holds that book untold power. Another insight into what Christine would bring to the reader in her Carpathian books.

3. Lifemate pairs introduced as the series progresses: 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.

a. Eric and Celeste – Celeste is pregnant with child in Dark Prince, but no mention of who they would be in the later books so far.

b. Vlad and Eleanor - Eleanor is pregnant with child in Dark Prince, but no mention of who they would be in the later books so far.

c. Tienn and Diedre

d. Vladimir Dubrinsky and Sarantha - Mikhail and Jacques Dubrinsky's parents.

4. Other Carpathians who are waiting for their lifemates as of this book and we meet as the series progresses are:

a. Byron Justicano - Jacques’ best friend and would become his right hand if ever Mikhail succumbs. He was tortured and hurt by Rand in the second book, Dark Desire. Still waiting to see his story.

b. Dimitri Tirunul – another ancient Carpathian mentioned briefly for the first time in a conversation between Jacques and Shea in Dark Desire plot. First introduced almost 15 years ago, we as readers already know that his story would not be fully evolved until the 25th book in the series. In Dark Legend, Francesca alludes to the fact that Dimitri is a renowned scientist; works for preservation of wolves and guards them in the reservations of Russia; and has a wolf foundation. Gabriel remembers Dimtri as being a unique, loner even as a fledgling with a dark core of violence.

c. Lucian Daratrazanoff - one of the powerful ancient legendry Carpathians; twin to Gabriel; who are children of Vladimir's own second-in-command; who had disappeared after the massive vampire hunting and cleanup dealt by the Carpathian warriors during the Middle Ages. Siblings to Gregori, Darius and Desari Daratrazanoff. And he has risen now.

d. Dayan - part of Darius and Desari's family, also members of the singing troupe Dark Troubadours. Towards the end of Dark Fire, Dayan leaves to Canada with Cullen Tucker to ensure Cullen's safety and also travel a bit to get adjusted with all the males around him who have lifemates. This gives me a pause to think that Dayan's story will be set in Canada.

5. Being so many few Carpathian females born, a few females that Christine still manages sneak in her plots are:

a. Shea O’Halloran – lifemate to Jacques Dubrinsky, first female born after more than 500 years and a natural healer. Her story can be read in Dark Desire.

b. Savannah Dubrinsky - daughter of Prince Mikhail Dubrinsky and his lifemate Raven Dubrinsky; lifemate to Gregori; who is learning to find the depth of her powers. Her story can be read in the fourth book, Dark Magic.

c. Desari Daratrazanoff - lifemate to Julian Savage, sister to Gregori and Darius; has the power to sing that could bring peace between humans, animals, birds and Carpathians alike, a voice that could avoid battles if needed. Her story is told in Dark Challenge.

d. Syndil - lifemate to Barack, both part of the troupe Dark Troubadours, with tremendous healing powers and has an affinity to earth and talent to play any instrument. Her story is spread in two books - Dark Challenge and Dark Fire.

e. Francesca Del Ponce - lifemate to Gabriel Daratrazanoff. Her story is told in this book, Dark Legend. She is a powerful healer and had perfected the way to live like humans, thinking Gabriel was lost to her forever, although it came at the cost of her limiting her powers as a Carpathian. She can also bring peace to anyone who is in her vicinity just by being there or by touch. An ability that is unique with the Carpathians. She can make stained glass patterns that are specific to a patient or person's need and bring healing to them. She is also pregnant with a female child.

6. Grammatical / Geographical / Location / Character / Historical Errors:

a. On Pg. 163, line 18, it should be "…in the manner of humans."

b. On Pg. 200, line 3, there is a repeat "was" in the line which is not needed.

c. On Pg. 277, second line from the bottom, it should be "…forgetting all that was taught to him."

d. On Pg. 341, line 11, there is a repeat "the" in the line which is not needed.

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