Book Critique - Dark Descent (The Carpathian Novels #11)

For reviews of other books in this series: Go here

For reviews of all books in the anthology The Only One: 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 Descent is the eleventh book in the longest series, Dark Series, by Christine Feehan which was published in May of 2003 as part of the anthology The Only One. Christine Feehan contributed to this book along with two other authors - Susan Grant and Susan Squires. In this novella, Christine tells the tale of Traian Trigovise - an ancient Carpathian who was heading home to meet the new Prince - and Joie Sanders - a professional body guard and avid spelunker.

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. The series now ventures into another species - Jaguar Species - with the 10th book Dark Symphony.

In her latest book in the series, the 31st book, Dark Legacy released in September of 2017, Christine had introduced a new Carpathian female, Elisabeta Trigovise - an ancient and sister to Traian Trigovise and thought lost to them. Not sure why Christine brings back her characters and how she ties them together with the various plots, but the mention of Traian Trigovise made me want to re-read the series again since quite a few facts she had brought back in Dark Legacy were lost on me.

And I have been waiting patiently to read Traian's story since I have started re-reading the books in this series. Finally here comes his story in the form of a novella. The events seem to happen after the 10th book Dark Symphony since we see that Jacques Dubrinsky and his lifemate Shea are mentioned to be in Italy - which is where Dark Symphony was set. We did see mention of Joie Sanders in a conversation by Antonietta Scarletti in that book's plot.

Dark Descent has been released in several books over the years - alone as well as combined. However, I am reviewing from the first book it was released in, so I will be missing reading the additional 100 pages that Christine had added to in the 2012 reprint as part of Dark Nights anthology. Perhaps that is why I didn’t remember Traian having a sister and was surprised when that character popped up in Dark Legacy last year. She must have been mentioned in those additional 100 pages. 

One of the reasons for Christine to add 100 pages more to the plot later was because it felt too fast paced and also became one of the shortest anthologies by her, per one of her interviews in 2012. Indeed when I am re-reading it I feel that the plot looked very rushed and lot of it was filled with details that would definitely stem into many books. It felt rushed and squished indeed.

Christine has Traian and Joie meet rather dramatically - both while healing from gruesome wounds caused during battles, one during the line of duty and one fighting off vampires.   But she finds him again while spelunking with her brother and sister - Jubal and Gabrielle - in battle with vampires. Despite their dis-belief, the three of them throw in with Traian to fight the vampires. However, more conspires between Traian and Joie that leads to the rest of the novella.

Joie comes from a very loving family and Traian longs for a family - one of the many reasons that we see that make us agree with Christine that they both are made for each other. We are re-introduced to vampires and Carpathian males fighting them in this plot, which was totally absent in the previous book Dark Symphony.

A few tidbits: Again this book starts including the card inserts that give reader and opportunity to either join a book club and win books, or buy a book and get a few free. There is an advertisement for dorchester publishing at the end of the book enticing readers to join their club and buy books. Although we know now that in 2012 this publishing was acquired by Amazon Publishing and it shut down as dorcehsterpub.

As always Christine leaves a lot of inconsequential details all through the plot. It will be very interesting to see where and when these all surface again. Gary Jansen pops up in this plot and a definite romantic angle is thrown between him and Gabrielle Sanders, making the reader know that they will be recurring characters. 

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. Gabrielle Sanders and Jubal Sanders are introduced in this plot - siblings to Joie Sanders. Gabrielle likes to learn about viruses and live in a lab and Jubal is very good at finding patterns. We will surely see more of them in future books. And neither of them seem repulsive of Carpathian's nature to take blood and infact appreciate their abilities. 

b. The Sanders siblings and Traian find a huge dragon encased in ice. We met Dominic Dragonseeker; saw Byron and Josef shape-shifting to dragons and mention of mages in Dark Symphony. Small details floating around, but I am sure Christine will be collecting them in a bigger plot later. 

c. We meet Shadow Warriors - Ghosts of the wizards, lost long ago - in this plot who were created by the mages long long ago. More meat for future books by Christine.

d. The Sanders siblings father reads them Stephen King's Cujo in this book. Oh my Stephen King is one author I would not want to read at all, although I did read one book and watched the film as well - Carrie. Never again never again!

e. While being tortured, one of the master vampire takes Traian's blood giving the vampire ability to control Traian - although Traian beats him at that control. However, not knowing who that vampire was and where he was, Traian decides not to go near Prince Mikhail Dubrinsky so he doesn’t bring peril to him. However, I don’t remember this tidbit being explored by Christine in any of the future books. Perhaps that is why she brought Elisabeta Trigovise in the last book, Dark Legacy's plot.

2. Sub-Plots:

a. Would love to ask Christine Feehan 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. Christine reveals the possibility of more Carpathians being settled in South America in Dark Challenge. 

d. In Dark Symphony, Christine introduces some more facts of Carpathians - the Dragonseeker clan of Carpathians, Wizards and Mages who were one time close with Carpathians but now arch enemies.

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

a. Gary Jansen first time introduced in Dark Magic, doesn’t have a story of him yet - 18 years since his character had first been mentioned. Having already read the remaining books I totally forgot when Gary's character was introduced. Recently Christine announced in her blog on Goodreads that Gary's story has to wait as his lifemate is a child now. I wonder who that child was and if she had already introduced that child in any of the recent books. I also wonder if she is basing Gary's lifemate on one of her granddaughters' - just like Skyler - and she would wait till the grand daughter would grow in real life before penning a story between her and Gary.

b. Cullen Tucker, a human, joins the singing troupe Dark Troubadours, in Dark Fire, when he braves to go against the Society of Vampire Hunters. He is however shown to move to Canada with Darius after the book ends. I don’t remember him much in the first time I read these books, only that Gary Jansen, Gabrielle and Jubal Sanders, and few human families have been moving through the series. May be this time around I will find more about him.

c. 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?

d. Skyler Rose Thompson is first introduced in Dark Legend, as a 14 year old girl who is battered and injured in every way. Above all she is a psychic. We are going to see more of her, but Christine has left enough clues to readers to guess who her lifemate would be. We will have to wait and see who that would be, although I know it since I am re-reading all the books again. 

e. In Dark Legend, 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. Barry Woods, a reporter in the Dark Legend 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. Perhaps a future character?

g. In Dark Guardian, Lucian has a chauffeur, Antonio, who is son of Stefan and Marie - human family who lived with Aidan Savage and his lifemate Alexandria Houton and her brother, Joshua. Lucian gets Antonio on loan for a while to protect his during the day. In Dark Legend we saw that Santino and his wife Drusilla come to live with Gabriel and Francesca to protect Skyler and keep their home safe. Santino is also mentioned as son of Stefan and Marie. Either Stefan has two boys and one each serving each of the Dark Twins. Or Christine mis-represented Santino as Antonio. Either way I wonder if these characters come back again.

4. Perils that the Carpathians face:

a. Few children who have born are Males, most not surviving the first year of their life. No one knows why females are rarely born and why most kids don’t survive the first year. Shea O'Halloran (aka Dubrinsky) along with Gregori Daratrazanoff are still performing research on how to better the food for their children so they survive. She is more interested to study Darius and Antonietta Scarletti's family in the hopes of finding a cure to their species.

b. With Dark Symphony, Christine introduces a new concept while converting a psychic female with Jaguar blood - Antoninetta Scarletti's blind eyes seem to be giving sight back to her. 

c. Vampires are congregating; attacking in coordinated methods; doing a hypnotic dance in hopes to transfix the Carpathian hunters; ability to create a holding spell; able to inject a fast acting poison into the Carpathians and Humans that is complex and would impact the nervous system immediately; can mix some kind of poison in a Carpathian's blood infecting them and causing them to sever the mental path the Carpathians share, as we saw in Dark Desire; casting a silvery net to capture the hunter in their molecular form; two master vampires running the show together.

d. Society of Human Vampire Hunters who constantly hunt the Carpathians mistaking them to be Vampires. Most are used as minions by the vampires to wreak havoc on both Carpathians and humans alike.

e. 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.

f. The antagonist Vampire 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. 

5. 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 Belandrake - Eleanor is pregnant in the first book Dark Prince. However in Dark Symphony we see that she has given birth to Benjamin "Benj" and also adopts Josef - son of another Carpathian pair who are lying in ground now, Lucia and Rodaniver.

c. Tienn and Diedre - Diedre is sister of Vlad.

d. Vladimir Dubrinsky and Sarantha - Mikhail and Jacques Dubrinsky's parents - They are shown as dead in Dark Guardian plot.

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

a. Dimitri Tirunul – another ancient Carpathian mentioned briefly for the first time in Dark Desire plot. First introduced almost 15 years ago, we as readers already know that his story would not be until the 25th book in the series. We know so far that he 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.

b. 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 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.

c. Dominic Dragonseeker - Introduced in Dark Symphony, with added little details about wizards / mages and a war between them and the Carpathians. He is looking for his sister - Rhiannon Dragonseeker - a powerful mage although just an apprentice, thought to be lost.

d. Josef  and Benjamin "Ben" - First introduced in Dark Symphony. I am guessing we are going to see more of him in future books. 

7. 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 is in Dark Desire

b. Savannah Dubrinsky - daughter of Prince Mikhail Dubrinsky and his lifemate Raven Dubrinsky; lifemate to Gregori Daratrazanoff; who is learning to find the depth of her powers. Her story is in 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 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 Dark Legend. She is a powerful healer; knows a way to live like humans although at cost of her Carpathian powers; has ability to bring peace to anyone who is in her vicinity or by touch; makes stained glass patterns that are specific to a one's need and bring healing to them. She has a female child with Gabriel, named Tamara.

f. Tamara - daughter of Gabriel Daratrazanoff and Francesca Del Pounce, born a few months before the Dark Guardian plot.


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