Book Critique - Dark Blood (The Carpathian Novels # 26)

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. And this one in particular is total WOW.

Dark Blood is the twenty sixth book in the longest series, Dark Series, by Christine Feehan which was originally published in September of 2014. The primary plot centers around Zev Hunter - an elite Lycan hunter - and Branislava "Bronnie" Dragonseeker -  great aunt to Lara De La Cruz and Skyler Dragonseeker, aunt to Natalya Von Shrieder and Razvan Dragonseeker. The plot continues from where the previous book Dark Wolf left off.

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". After Prince Mikhail Dubrinsky finds a lifemate in a human female with psychic abilities, 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 all beings. The series now ventures into other  species - Jaguar Species (with the 10th book Dark Symphony), Dragonseekers (with the 16th book Dark Demon), and Lycans (with the 18th book Dark Possession).

This also forms the third and final book in the second trilogy within the series. The first book being Dark Lycan and second Dark Wolf. And the first trilogy in the series included the 5th book Dark Challenge, 6th book Dark Fire and the 12th book Dark Melody.

First introduced in the 11th book Dark Descent as Twin Dragons (Red and Blue respectively), Bransilava "Bronnie" and Tatijana Dragonseeker have suffered immensely at the hands of their father, Xavier, the evil high mage. After being freed from their clutches in the 19th book Dark Curse by Nicolas and Lara De La Cruz, they had spent a few years in the ground healing. Finally they rise and find themselves in the middle of a war between two species.

We saw Tatijana found her lifemate in Fenris Delka, a Guardian of All with mixed blood, in the 24th book Dark Lycan. This book tells the story of Bronnie, although we have seen her appear in the previous two books in this trilogy. Last we saw her was tying herself to Zev Hunter, when he was mortally injured in a battle against rogue Lycan assassins, and gone to ground to help him heal, in Dark Wolf.

This is where her tale begins. A tale of cat and mouse chase between the conspirators and the Lycans and Carpathians defending their people as well as humans from them; a tale of romance between two species considered taboo - Oh so Romeo Juliette-ish in this case; a tale where two species come together for the betterment of all species living. 

Considering that mixing blood with Lycans and Carpathians would cause uproar and eventual war between two powerful species, I wondered what route Christine would be taking for Zev Hunter and Bransilava Dragonseeker. More because Christine had been stressing on the fact that the words of ritual to bind your lifemate to you are imprinted on the male counterpart from his birth; and if Zev wasn't a Carpathian how will he bind Bransilava to him. But the door she opened and the possibilities she revealed very totally surprising and threw me off as a reader.

Zev, a dominant and dangerous wolf, is a perfect complement to Bransilava, a fiery and passionate dragon. However, at times Zev is shown rough, bordering on brutal, especially during their sexual interactions and that Bransilava likes it. Perhaps I don’t like that kind, but it definitely suits the characters since both are fiery, hot and passionate in nature. 

I also loved about the fact that even though there are perils around every corner, Christine puts in so much fun around Zev and Bransilava, sneaking them in where least expected. I loved specially the scene where Bransilava, Tatijana and Skyler try to heal Zev, and Fen keeps digging himself into a hole with the ladies while Zev and Dimitri have fun on his expense. I read that scene so many times and each time I laughed out loud and loud.

All along while reading this trilogy it felt so similar to wars that are waged thru history in our world, and still being waged, where two countries or religions or regions fight for reasons or rules that had been set in an era that no longer pertains to or works for the era the wars being waged. Sadly, this is not just fiction in this case.

A few books ago I was thinking why Christine had different last names for siblings, for instance Fenris Dalka and Dimtri Tirunul. This book gave the explanation, and as a reader I should have guessed it, Duh!

Repeat paraphrasing continues in this book, although it wasn’t as heavy as it was in past two books. Although Christine brings forth old plots to light whenever the characters from past resurface or situations are discussed. That does help in keeping the readers appraised of the threads that keep moving through the books. 

With this plot, Christine opens another new thread for her plots, that no doubt would flare out into multiple books in future. But, the key is the different directions she could take this series, without keeping it just erotic paranormal stuff. That is what keeps the readers hooked to the books.

In Dark Predator, we had seen that Dominic and Solange Dragonseeker head back to Carpathian mountains to deliver important news to their Prince. However, they don’t arrive until 2 years after that plot. Wonder where they were during that time. Again all the Carpathians come together to fight the vilest of the vilest evil put forth on earth bent on extinguishing them.

Christine employs battle strategies, for both protagonists and antagonists, making me think if she watches war movies to figure them out. They are so complex and complicated that sometimes one's mind boggles. Although she had reused one battle scene from a previous plot since the antagonist was similar. 

Like I mentioned in my past book, Christine's plots flow like a wave, and every so often they reach a crescendo, which gives an indication that from here on a new tale or twist would be added and a new thread will be spun for the series. This is the third such wave in this series and with this book the wave comes down to float. Don’t think I am telling that this book was flat. Oh no, of course not, this book was WOW. However, the wave ends here and a new one would start no doubt in the next book building readers' anticipations on where we would be going, whom we would be meeting and will any of the unanswered questions will be answered.

A few tidbits:

The family chart continues to appear in the beginning of the book. Two appendix sections grace at the end of the book - Appendix I: Carpathian Healing Chants and Appendix II: The Carpathian Language.

This is the fifth book that Christine Feehan thanks her friend Cheryl Wilson, but this time she has her in the acknowledgements page. Yes, the very same C. L. Wilson of the Weathermages of Mystral series. The other three books that she had done so far were the 18th book Dark Possession, 20th book Dark Slayer, the 23rd book Dark Storm and 25th book Dark Wolf. 

Surprisingly for a powerful plot, this seemed a lesser hit of this trilogy based on the pulse of the readers on Amazon.com and Goodreads.com. However, I felt that this was a better book of the three, almost overshadowing Dimitri and Skyler's story - Dark Wolf. It is a pity for their story but a plus for Zev and Bransilava.

Another powerful paranormal romantic plot woven by Christine Feehan keeping us thoroughly entertained and immersed into the world of Carpathians, Lycans, Mages and Jaguars along-side humans. As always the fight scenes are excellent and love scenes are very erotic and rough, bordering on brutal.

Christine has certainly left the readers with so many minute details that they would be craving to read those details becoming prominent in future plots. Watch this space for more reviews of the next books in the series.

Spoiler Alerts:

1. Plot reveals:

a. Zev Hunter gets inducted into the Carpathian world of warriors after rising as a Lycan/Carpathian, Guardian of all, through the Tirunul clan. It is revealed then that he is actually the last descendant of a powerful Carpathian bloodline, Dark Blood, similar to Dubrinsky or Dragonseeker or Daratrazanoff, who were thought to be lost forever.

b. The High Mages were three, triplets - Xavier, Xaviero and Xavyion; of whom one known as Xavier was killed in Dark Slayer by Razvan and Ivory Dragonseeker. Xaviero had infiltrated the Lycans and Xavyion infiltrated the Jaguras slowly causing their downfall just as Xavier had tried with Carpathians. More perils in the Carpathian world, making this a new segue in the series by Christine. Xaviero is killed in this plot by Zev Hunter, aided by all the Carpathians and Lycans.

c. Zev gets 12 Lycan/Carpathians - Guardians of All - thought to be Sange rau for his pack which includes Dimitri and Skyler, Fen and Tatijana and Bransilava, his mate; along with his trusted elite Lycans. I am seeing another thread here that Christine perhaps will explore further. 

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? 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. Dark Celebration plot reveals a possibility of another powerful Carpathian lineage who had ability to heal earth, water, plants, ability to regrow plants with rich nutritious soil all around, aiding in the birth of Carpathians. Syndil is last surviving descendant. As of Dark Lycan plot, it shows that Skyler and perhaps Syndil all were descendants of the Incas, the same people that Arabejila that we saw in Dark Storm was from.

i. Plot also shows that Paul and Ginny have Jaguar blood in them by way of their mother. Although Paul is tied to Nicholas De La Cruz by blood bond since Dark Secret.

c. Ivory Malinov has a pack of wolves that she had converted them to Carpathian - Raja & Ayame, Blaez & Gynger, Farkas & Rikki. Razvan and Ivory gift four wolf pups to Dimitri and Skyler as a gift in Dark Wolf, all four converted to Carpathians just like their wolf pack - Frost, Moonglow, Shadow and Sonnet and they add a fifth in this plot - Misty.

d. The book of spells by Xavier was found in Dark Demon by Natalya and Vikirnoff Von Shreider. However, Christine hasn’t yet put together a plot to destroy it. 

e. I wonder if Christine would have a cross-over between her Leopard People Series and the Jaguar species in this Carpathian Series.

f. In Dark Peril, it is shown that Solange Sangria's royal jaguar blood gives Carpathians ability to walk in sun, albeit with some difficulties. Christine showed the continuity of this in Dark Predator and Dark Storm plots. 

g. In Dark Predator we saw budding romance between Julio Santos and Lea Eldridge. Will they and other human families at De La Cruz ranches resurface?

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

a. In Dark Dream, Falcon and Sara Amiras adopts seven sewer children - three girls (Chrissy, Blythe, Emma) and four boys (Travis, Peter, Lucas, Jase) - all with psychic abilities. 

b. Gabrielle Sanders and Jubal Sanders, siblings to Joie Sanders are first introduced in Dark Descent plot.  As of Dark Demon plot they reside in Carpathian Mountains. Gabrielle is turned to Carpathian in Dark Demon plot and tied to Vikirnoff Von Shrieder. In Dark Celebration it is revealed that the Sanders family come from pure Jaguar blood-line. And that all of them have dormant Jaguar blood in them. In Dark Storm plot it is shown that Jubal has feelings for Jasmine Sangria, jaguar female.

c. Jasmine Sangria - sister to Juliette - is first introduced in Dark Hunger plot. A jaguar female and could be a lifemate to a Carpathian male. As of Dark Possession, Jasmine is pregnant. 

4. Perils that the Carpathians face:

a. Vampires congregating; injecting a fast acting poison impacting the nervous system; master vampires running together; a multigenerational poison that could attack the healers, fighting the master mage Xavier's (he was killed in Dark Slayer) remaining two splinters that reside in Sergey Malinov.

b. Society of Human Vampire Hunters who constantly hunt the Carpathians mistaking them to be Vampires. The Morrison Center for Psychic Research is targeting psychic humans and jaguar females, documenting about them to kill them in the end. 

c. Malinov Brothers are introduced in this Dark Secret plot; they were sent to Asia by Vladimir Dubrinsky to fight vampires, instead they become the very thing that they were sent to kill - Kirja Manilov killed by Rafael De La Cruz with aid from Vikirnoff Von Shrieder in Dark Secret; Maxim Malinov killed by Mikhail Dubrinsky in Dark Celebration; Ruslan Manilov is the eldest of them and killed by Zacharias De La Cruz in Dark Predator; Sergey Malinov introduced in Dark Slayer; fifth brother yet to be introduced.

d. The Lycan/Vampires - Carpathians who deliberately mixed blood with Lycans and voluntarily converted to Vampires - also known as the Sange rau.

5. Lifemate pairs introduced as the series progresses: Will Christine have a plot for these pairs sometime in future? 

a. Eric and Celeste – Celeste is pregnant with child in Dark Prince, but no mention of them in the books after.

b. Vlad and Eleanor Belandrake - In Dark Symphony it is shown 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.

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

a. Tiberiu Bercovitz - an ancient mentioned in Dark Celebration plot. He was known to be amazing with weapons. 

b. Luiz De La Cruz - introduced as Luiz Silva, a Jaguar converted to Carpathian by Manolito De La Cruz in Dark Possession, inducted into the Carpathian world of Warriors in Dark Blood.

c. Andre - an ancient Carpathian who keeps mostly to himself, introduced first in Dark Curse. 

d. Tariq Asenguard - an ancient Carpathian, who was sent to North America by Vlad, introduced first in Dark Curse.

e. Matias, Lojos and Tomas - ancient Carpathians and siblings, first introduced in Dark Slayer. 

f. The other elite Lycans introduced in Dark Lycan and subsequent books - Daciana Declaw (female elite Lycan), Lykaon, Makoce, Damon Declaw.

g. Gary Daratrazanoff - Introduced as Gary Jansen in the the 4th book Dark Magic, revealed to have Jaguar blood and related to Colby and her step siblings in Dark Celebration, converted to Carpathian in this plot after suffering a mortal wound aiding the Carpathians. 18 years since his character had first been mentioned, yet Christine still hasn’t spun a story for him. In one of her blog post on Goodreads in 2018, she however mentions that Gary's story has to wait as his lifemate is a child now. Has she already introduced the child? Or is she basing her 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. 

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, a natural healer. Her story is in Dark Desire.

b. Savannah Dubrinsky - daughter of Prince Mikhail and Raven Dubrinsky; lifemate to Gregori Daratrazanoff. Her story is in Dark Magic.

c. Desari Daratrazanoff - lifemate to Julian Savage, sister to Gregori and Darius; power to sing that could bring peace to all beings. Her story is in Dark Challenge

d. Syndil - lifemate to Barack, with tremendous healing powers and has an affinity to earth. Her story is spread in two books - Dark Challenge and Dark Fire

e. Francesca Del Ponce - lifemate to Gabriel Daratrazanoff. She is a powerful healer; makes stained glass patterns and quilts that are specific to one's need and bring healing to them. Her story is in Dark Legend. As of Dark Wolf plot, she is pregnant again. 

f. Natalya Shonski - lifemate to Vikirnoff Von Shrieder. She is part human, part mage and part Dragonseeker. Has ability to see the past of anything that she touches. Her story is in Dark Demon.

g. Ivory Malinov - Lifemate to Razvan Dragonseeker, sister to the Malinov and De La Cruz brothers, ability to weave counteracting spells to Xavier's. Her story is in Dark Slayer.

h. Lara Calladine - lifemate to Nicolas De La Cruz. She is part human, part Carpathian and part Dragonseeker; and a daughter of Razvan Dragonseeker. Her story is in Dark Curse.

i. Branislava "Bronnie" Dragonseeker and Tatijana Dragonseeker (Lifemate to Fenris Dalka, her story told in Dark Lycan.

j. Skyler Daratrazanoff - lifemate to Dimitri Tirunul; adopted by Gabriel and Francesca Daratrazanoff, is Razvan's biological daughter; part Mage, part Human, part Dragonseeker, part Jaguar, part Lycan (as revealed in Dark Blood); Daughter of the Earth. Her story is in Dark Wolf.

8. Next Generation Carpathian male and female kids:

a. Tamara - daughter of Gabriel and Francesca Daratrazanoff, born after the Dark Legend plot.

b. Josef  and Benjamin "Ben" Belandrake - Carpathian male kids, first introduced in Dark Symphony. Nephews to Byron Justicano. In Dark Celebration a budding romance was shown between Josef and Ginny - Colby's step-sister; while in Dark Lycan Skyler mentions that perhaps one or both of Gregori's daughters' may be his lifemate.

c. Jennifer - daughter of Dayan and Corrine Wentworth, born in Dark Melody plot.

d. Stefan Kane Dubrinsky - Jacques and Shea Dubrinsky's son born in Dark Celebration plot.

e. Alexandru "Sandu" - Mikhail and Raven Dubrinsky's son, born sometime after the Dark Curse plot.

f. Anastasia Daratrazanoff and Anya Daratrazanoff - twin girls of Gregori and Savannah Daratrazanoff, born in Dark Slayer plot. As of Dark Lycan, Anya and Anastasia are becoming strong protectors of Alexandru just like Gregori was to Mikhail; Anya more being Alexandru's second-in-command.

g. Andor and <> - Twins (a boy and girl) of Darius and Tempest Daratrazanoff.

h. Isabella Sara Amiras - Falcon and Sara Amiras' daughter, born in Dark Blood. (Sara miscarried the first child she had sometime after Dark Celebration plot)

9. Geographical / Character / Grammatical / Historical Errors:

a. On Pg. 48, Line 1, it should be "Skyler had to stop…"

b. On Pg. 185, Christine mentions that Xavyion thrusts tiny wiggling white worms with teeth into the brain of the mage-shadowed Lycan, Igor. But on Pg. 190, she mentions that those worms were sent into Damon. A character mis-representation.

c. On Pg. 191, Line 4 from bottom, it should be "What is it?"

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