Book Critique - Dark Song (The Carpathian Novels #34)

For reviews of other books in this series: Go here.

Stars: 5 / 5

Recommendation: A medley of romance and super-abilities in a world filled with various species - humans, carpathians, werewolves and jaguar - living side by side fighting off the evil vampires and wicked mages all the while saving world; and their own species in the process; and finding your soulmate.

Dark Song is the thirty fourth book in the longest series, Dark Series, by Christine Feehan originally published in September of 2020. The primary plot is around Ferro Arany - an ancient who was living in the monastery, but now resides in California (CA) aiding Tariq Asenguard - and Elisabeta Trigovise - recently rescued long-lost Carpathian female, now resting in CA compound.

Carpathians are an ancient race who are near-immortals living for thousands of years with powers and gifts. Despite that they are at the edge of extinction as fewer and fewer children are born with far lesser of females. Without their "lifemates" the male Carpathians lose the ability to feel emotions leaving them to either become vampire or "greet the dawn". Now with their Prince, Mikhail Dubrinsky, finding 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 series ventures into other  species - Jaguar (with the 10th book Dark Symphony), Dragonseekers (with the 16th book Dark Demon), Lycans (with the 18th book Dark Possession) and Mages (with the 33rd book Dark Illusion).

We met Ferro Arany first in the 29th novel, Dark Promises, when he was still residing in the monastery, Retreat in the Veil of Mists, in Carpathian mountains. With the remaining six brethren from the monastery, Ferro comes to CA to Tariq's compound in Dark Legacy, the 31st book. He has fought beside the Carpathians living there and helping them in every way he can. Only he never thought he would find his lifemate after so many centuries of nothingness even though Gabrielle Sanders prophecies in Dark Promises of them finding lifemates potentially in CA.

Elisabeta Trigovise, was rescued from the clutches of Sergey Malinov, the master vampire, by Dragomis Kozel in Dark Legacy, the same book Ferro moves to CA. She had been kidnapped, hidden and tortured for centuries with no knowledge of the modern world or how modern women behave; even to know how to live without someone guiding her every step.

Now Ferro has to take utmost care in getting Elisabeta back her confidence, find herself, and convince this fractured but very beautiful woman that she is more than who she thinks she is or what the vampire made her to be. And Elisabeta has to face the fact that she is tied to Ferro forever, since he is her lifemate, a lifemate who scares her as much as the master vampire. Only trust and love would heal her and bind them together in all the ways of Carpathians - Body, Mind, Soul and Heart.

As much as Ferro hates to be dominant or commandeering over Elisabeta, unfortunately she's conditioned that way in all the centuries she had been held captive. And she needs Ferro to be exactly like Sergey but with shades of love and affection. Christine shows such a moral dilemma that Ferro faces - he doesn’t want to make her live the captive life and want her to build confidence, at the same time he has no choice but to behave so for Elisabeta to get through each day while she learns to live in modern world. 

Christine Feehan opens the book with a beautiful song titled "Dark Song" (aptly!) written by Caedyn Feehan, perhaps her grand-daughter or niece. She uses lines from that song to open each chapter in the book, thus giving us a glimpse what readers should expect with the lives of Elisabeta and Ferro in that chapter.

Thankfully Christine had less use of words like "allow", "gifting", "rewarded", "earned" this time around. However she had tinges of "serve me", "obey me" coloring the sexual plot. Although in this case with regards to the relationship that Ferro and Elisabeta have those make more sense. She continues to have repeat paraphrasing.

Again Christine creates Ferro an exact replica of the antagonist but with innate goodness in heart and mind. This has been her typical recipe lately with all of her series, where she inadvertently pits the protagonist and antagonist against each other in the heroine's mind by making them look the exact replicas of each other - one dark, one light; one evil, one good.

She gives us more about the camaraderie shared between Lorraine and Ferro making us laugh with tears. She shows the vulnerability all Carpathians have within themselves that they brave them.  

Because we are dealing through a pandemic perhaps that's why I am seeing in many books that got printed in 2020 touching on some kind of disease or ailment that resembles the pandemic. Christine did the same. She has Carpathians fighting a taint that is spreading in their brains like an infection, unknown as to how it is caused and what is the cure. 

Christine takes us back to some of the Carpathian basic procedures in their way of life; their history; like she had done in the earlier books, perhaps to remind the readers - history of Mikhail's father and what could have been done to prevent the disaster that came upon the Carpathians over the centuries; history on Josef, Skyler and Paul who saved Dmitri in Dark Wolf, the 25th book published 6 years ago; Ivory Malinov's story until she meets her lifemate.

Apart from the stories from past books and rehashing some of the Carpathian rituals, Christine also brought back a lot of Carpathian couples whose stories we have already read - Traian & Joie Trigovise; Barack & Syndil; Dayan & Corrine; Julian & Desari Savage; Darius & Tempest.

Finally she has Andre & Teagan; Fane & Trixie; and Aleksei & Gabrielle reach Tariq's compound in CA in this book. We have been waiting for them to arrive here since the 29th book Dark Promises in 2016. Andre is very close to the Triplets and his mission was to be close to them. More ancients joining Tariq's compound making it a true strong hold. 

However, this brings another element into the mix. Gabrielle was in love with Gary when they were humans. But after converting, their halves were not each other but totally different lifemates. Although Gabrielle and Gary accept their fates, there was slight animosity between Aleksei and Gary when they first meet in Dark Promises. Wonder how they will co-exist here. 

BTW, seeing Barack & Syndil again in this book, I remembered a while ago when gave me an opportunity to ask Christine Feehan a question, I had asked her about why she had split Barack and Syndil's story in two books as opposed to make it one book or novella. Below is her response. I am grateful she took time to answer my silly question. :)

You may want to revisit those two books. Barack, Syndil and the other "lost children" didn't grow up like normal Carpathians. There was a lot they didn't know. There just wasn't enough of a story for an entire book.
Barack had only known for a short time he was her lifemate. Then, she was attacked and the timing wasn't right. I still think their story is romantic, even if it doesn't run the length of a full novel.

As I was reading through her responses on GoodReads for readers questions, I noticed that she had answered one of my questions which were posed by two other readers; although they asked between Ghostwalkers and Carpathians cross-over. Yet I think the answer works for my question too - a cross-over between Leopard People Series and Jaguar species in the Carpathian Series. Two readers actually asked a similar question and I am sure many might have asked. Below is her consolidated response:

I'm not really interested in crossing series at this time.
No. I have no plans for any crossovers between those series. They are completely unrelated mythologies.

From the time Elisabeta was introduced in the 31st book, Dark Legacy in 2017, somehow I envisioned her tale to be like another wave that crescendos to the top in the series. Just like Ivory and Skyler's stories. Meaning giving new story arcs to the series while keeping the original elements still in place. True to my gut feeling, that is exactly what Christine gave us here. We see new perils and enemies to Carpathians; a totally new story curve aligning with the new enemies; and above all closed a few open items from past books as well. 

Whenever a character is hyped or elevated by an author in a series, I always expect their story to be really impactful when the author eventually gets around to write about them. Similarly Christine has a few characters that she gradually evolves them and when she gives their story it is big bang to the readers. However I was disappointed with the last character that she did so, Gabrielle Sanders story in Dark Promises.

So I was worried about Elisabeta and how Christine would give her a tale. However, I am pleased that she gave a very romantic story for Elisabeta, giving everything she wants in Ferro, and making her the most powerful Carpathian woman and at the same time the most humblest one. Totally loved this book. 

Again, the plot Christine weaves keeps us hooked 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. Christine certainly left the readers with so many minute details that they would be craving to read those details becoming important in future plots. And this time with new story arc that keeps getting more intriguing.

Spoiler Alerts:

1. Plot reveals:

a. Josef reappears in this book, coming to CA to help Tariq and his people to learn the new technologies. He remains in the compound at the end to be groomed by the monastery brothers. Christine made his role all the more important in this book. He is no longer the teenager that everyone perceives him to be, but he is much more. We have to lookout for him in future books, might turn into another Gary.

b. Christine gives more of Sandu in this book. Will her next story be of Sandu?

c. Council for Carpathians - made of 5 ancient Carpathians who monitor the Prince and make sure the power doesn’t corrupt at the highest source. They don’t know who each other are. So far identified - Tariq, Malinov Brothers' father. Each council member is given a small piece of stone as a mark. Malinov Brothers took over their father's. And now Cornel & Dorin want it to take power of the Prince. Elisabeta thinks the Malinov piece is in Carpathian Mountains. 

d. Finally all of Xavier's splinters are destroyed in this plot, along with the Malinov brothers' splinters residing in Sergey when he is killed by Ferro. 

e. Ferro & Elisabeta promise Traian & Joie that they would bring Josef back to the Carpathian Mountains after his training, also may be some of the brothers from monastery will join as well. Definitely Christine is bringing the characters home soon perhaps.

2. Sub-Plots:

a. Ivory Malinov and Razvan Dragonseeker have a pack of converted Carpathian wolves in Dark Slayer that ride them as fur coats or tattoos - Raja & Ayame, Blaez & Gynger, Farkas & Rikki. Dimitri Tirunul and Skyler Daratrazanoff have a pack of their own converted Carpathian wolves in Dark Wolf - Frost & Misty, Moonglow, Shadow and Sonnet. In Dark Illusion Julia and Isai have their own pack of converted Carpathian Shadow Cats (panthers) - Blue and Bell; Comet and Phaedra; Sable and Phantom - riding as tattoos on Isai.

b. The book of spells by Xavier found in Dark Demon by Natalya and Vikirnoff Von Shreider is with Prince Mikhail since then. Feehan explores it thoroughly in Dark Illusion, but it is not destroyed yet.

c. Solange Sangria's royal jaguar blood could give Carpathians ability to walk in sun per Dark Peril, but what are the consequences.

d. Per Dark Blood - Zev Tirunul gets 12 Lycan/Carpathians - Guardians of All - for his pack.

e. In Dark Legacy, a possible counselor coming from London to aid the kids and if she doesn’t work one more from South America is mentioned.

f. In Dark Sentinel, Aidan Savage is being sent to east coast to create a stronghold similar to what Tariq has in CA. Will Christine make him equal par to Tariq? Or will he be bound to Tariq's orders?

g. In Dark Sentinel, Sandu, Ferro and Gary bind their souls to Lorraine in an effort to bring Andor back. 

h. Unique / Repeat Characters with possible sub-plots or main plots of their own:

i. In Dark Dream, Falcon and Sara Amiras adopt seven psychic children - three girls (Chrissy, Blythe, Emma) and four boys (Travis, Peter, Lucas, Jase). 

ii. Jubal Sanders - introduced in Dark Descent, is a Jaguar, per Dark Storm has feelings for Jasmine Sangria, a jaguar female rescued from captive with evil Jaguar males in Dark Hunger in 2004; confirmed pregnant per Dark Possession.

iii. Dark Celebration reveals that Paul and Ginny Chevez have Jaguar blood. Paul is tied to Nicholas De La Cruz by blood bond since Dark Secret. First introduced in Dark Secret in 2005. In this book the Malinov cousins - Cornel & Dorin - want to capture him.

iv. In Dark Crime, four psychic kids are saved from Vladim Malinov - Danny, Amelia, Liv (10 yr old girl converted to Carpathian in Dark Carousel), Bella. Lourdes - Charlotte's niece - joins them in Dark Carousel. All of them have been adopted by Tariq and Charlotte since then. 

v. In Dark Carousel - Genevieve "Vi" Marten, Charlotte's friend and now nanny to kids at Tariq's compound shows strong psychic powers, but want to go back to Paris; Grace Parducci - Charlotte's friend with psychic abilities, does not stay in Tariq's compound.

vi. Humans in Tariq's Compound: Donald & Mary Walton, caretakers; Mark Bennett, head of security;

i. Perils that the Carpathians face:

i. Xavyion, the surviving High Mage Triplets (Xavier killed in Dark Slayer, Xaviero killed in Dark Blood); threat from male human psychics who are newly made to vampires; Barnabas, son of Xaviero, who doesn’t die at the end of Dark Illusion; vampires manipulating with energy fields using technology, or infecting carpathians brains.

ii. Society of Human Vampire Hunters hunting the Carpathians mistaking them to be Vampires. The Morrison Center for Psychic Research targeting psychic humans and jaguar females. 

iii. Master Vampires conspiring - Final Malinov brother, Vadim injured severely in Dark Legacy, fate unknown; Malinov cousins Cornel Malinov, Dorin Malinov, Robi Astor.

iv. The Lycan/Vampires aka Sange Ru - Carpathians who deliberately mixed blood with Lycans and voluntarily covert to Vampires.

v. Carpathians when communicating broadly use the common Carpathian path, which is heard by Vampires also (since they were originally Carpathians). Will Christine address this flaw?

j. Other Carpathians, Lycans and Jaguars waiting for their mates:

i. Tiberiu Bercovitz - ancient first mentioned in Dark Celebration.

ii. Luiz De La Cruz - introduced as Luiz Silva, a Jaguar converted to Carpathian by Manolito De La Cruz in Dark Possession.

iii. Matias, Lojos and Tomas - ancient triplets, first introduced in Dark Slayer. Living in Tariq's compound since Dark Crime.

iv. Gary Daratrazanoff - Introduced as Gary Jansen in Dark Magic; has Jaguar blood and related to Colby De La Cruz per Dark Celebration; converted to Carpathian in Dark Blood; becomes a true ancient in Dark Promises; becomes Second-in-Command to Tariq Asenguard per Dark Legacy (Tariq the appointed stand-in for Mikhail in USA). Per that plot, his lifemate is just born and residing in France. 19 years since his character had first been introduced, yet Christine hasn’t penned a tale for him. If she is basing his lifemate on one of her grand-daughters, just like Skyler, then perhaps she would wait till the grand daughter would grow in real life before penning a story between her and Gary?

v. Valentin "Val" Zhestokly - ancient Carpathian, first appearing in Dark Crime. Liv is his lifemate; will wait 8 yrs more to claim her per Dark Carousel.

vi. Remaining Three of the Seven ancients from the monastery, Retreat in the Veil of Mists, living in Tariq's compound since Dark Legacy - Sandu, Petru, Benedek.

vii. Afanasiv "Siv" Balan and Nicu Dalca - ancient hunters who join Tariq in Dark Carousel. 

k. Carpathian Women:

i. Shea O’Halloran – lifemate to Jacques Dubrinsky in Dark Desire

ii. Savannah Dubrinsky - lifemate to Gregori Daratrazanoff in Dark Magic.

iii. Desari Daratrazanoff - lifemate to Julian Savage in Dark Challenge.

iv. Syndil - lifemate to Barack in Dark Challenge and Dark Fire.

v. Francesca Del Ponce - lifemate to Gabriel Daratrazanoff in Dark Legend. As of Dark Wolf, she is pregnant again. 

vi. Natalya Shonski - lifemate to Vikirnoff Von Shrieder in Dark Demon.

vii. Lara Calladine - lifemate to Nicolas De La Cruz in Dark Curse.

viii. Ivory Malinov - Lifemate to Razvan Dragonseeker in Dark Slayer.

ix. Tatijana Dragonseeker (Lifemate to Fenris Dalka in Dark Lycan), and Branislava "Bronnie" Dragonseeker (Lifemate to Zev Tirunul in Dark Blood).

x. Skyler Dragonseeker - lifemate to Dimitri Tirunul in Dark Wolf.

xi. Gabrielle Sanders - lifemate to Aleksei in Dark Promises.

xii. Julija Brennan - lifemate to Isai Florea in Dark Illusion; grand-daughter of the high mage Xavier; pregnant as of her book.

l. Next Generation Carpathian male and female kids:

i. Tamara - Gabriel and Francesca's daughter, born after Dark Legend.

ii. Josef  and Benjamin "Ben" Belandrake - first introduced in Dark Symphony. Nephews to Byron. In Dark Celebration a budding romance seen between Josef and Ginny Chevez; while in Dark Lycan Skyler mentions that perhaps one or both of Gregori's daughters' may be his lifemates.

iii. Jennifer - daughter of Dayan and Corrine, born in Dark Melody.

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

v. Alexandru "Sandu" - Mikhail and Raven's son, born sometime after Dark Curse.

vi. Anastasia and Anya Daratrazanoff - twin girls of Gregori and Savannah, born in Dark Slayer. Anya perhaps to become second-in command to Alexandru.

vii. Andor (boy) and Aniko (girl) - Twins of Darius and Tempest.

viii. Isabella Sara Amiras - Falcon and Sara's daughter, born in Dark Blood.

ix. Carisma - Dragomir & Emeline's daughter, born sometime after Dark Legacy; niece to Ivory Malinov. 

3. Grammatical / Character / Plot / Geographical / Historical / Mythological Errors:

a. On Pg. 136, after Ferro makes love to Elisabeta, he relaxes in sitting position. However, On Pg. 140, Christine has him standing with Elisabeta on her knees beginning the next love scene. There was no scenario in between where she changed Ferro's position from sitting to standing.

b. On Pg. 312, Line 20, it should be "…was a bunch of bullshit…"


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