Formats available: ebook, mass market paperback
Genre: Paranormal romance
Series: Dragon Kings, #2
Length: 401 pages
Publisher: July 30, 2013
Date Released: Pocket Books
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository
As a young man, sarcastic, violent Tallis Pendray believed the Dragon Kings’ survival depended on a prophecy delivered in dreams by a woman named “the Sun.” His role has been to complete inexplicable, even reprehensible tasks. First, by murdering a priest, he united his fragmented clan in their hatred of him. Dubbed “the Heretic,” Tallis fled his family’s Highland estate. Now disillusioned, he seeks revenge on the woman he holds responsible for two decades of exile.
Telepath Kavya Indranan is a charismatic, seductive cult leader born to a prominent family. However, she grew up terrorized by the ominous threat of her powerful, insane twin brother. On the run and hiding among the poor, she witnessed the destruction wrought by her clan’s centuries-old civil war. Maturity nurtures Kavya’s determination to end the cycle of bloodshed. Those who follow her call for peace have nicknamed her “the Sun.”
Bent on revenge, and without knowledge of Kavya’s noble intentions, Tallis kidnaps her on the eve of her groundbreaking announcement. The two watch in horror as her twin brutally smashes the tentative truce…and hunts the sister whose death would make him invincible.
Kavya is the Sun—revered, untouched, and bound by a lonely destiny that promises a deadly showdown against the last of her family. Tallis is the Heretic—despised and exiled because of actions that seem random, heartless, and contrary to the safety of the clans he protects. She’s not a goddess, and he’s not a natural born killer. A desperate trek from the Himalayan foothills to the Scottish Highlands reveals two secluded souls hidden by bloody reputations. Will their trust be strong enough to avert an all-out war that could destroy them, and their kind, forever?
The worldbuilding of the Dragon Kings finally un-murks. On the other hand, the sheer dark, gritty gloom and doominess of Silent Warrior and Caged Warrior definitely dials down a couple of notches. As to which you prefer, the mileage certainly varies.
We’ve met the hero, Tallis of Pendray, in Caged Warrior. We discover that he not only wrapped up the action in that cage-match, he kicked it off by leading the Asters to Audrey’s house at the start of it all. (See my review for more details.)
Tallis was misled. He believed that the Asters only wanted to question Audrey. Why he let himself believe a criminal “family” would stop at civilized questions is beyond this reader. But the reason he allowed himself to be misled at all, that’s a whole other issue.
Tallis has been following the mental seduction of “The Sun” for 20 years. This female cult leader has promised him that she was leading their people towards reunification and peace, by having him murder key leaders blocking her path. Oh, and she promised him dream sex and a meeting with their totem Dragon god along the way.
But the kidnapping and torture of Audrey broke the spell she had over him, because she lied. Because the Asters murdered Audrey’s husband in cold blood. And because Audrey was his niece.
Tallis set out in search of the physical location of “The Sun” and the members of her cult, and found Kavye — an Indraman woman of the Dragon Kings, the real, true leader of the Sun cult, and not the woman who had driven him to execute Dragon Kings in her name. Instead, Kavye was the least powerful of an Indraman telepathic triplet, hiding from the mad brother who had murdered their sister and sought her life in order to merge her power with his.
That’s the curse of the Indraman clan.
Kavye’s brother found her disciples while Tallis was still figuring out the best way to disgrace her. Pashkah’s massacre of her followers ground any attempt at unification into the dust.
Tallis and Kavye ran from the madman. The irony that the Dragon’s gift to the Pendray is the berserker rage, and that the two of them are running from a Dragon King who has gone completely insane, is intended.
The Indraman are telepaths, and the only way that Tallis can fight off Kavye’s people is to give in to the insane side of his own nature. Losing his rationality is his best protection.
But Tallis still needs to think. If Kavye was not the woman who enthralled him, who is that temptress? Whose nefarious purpose has he been serving for 20 years? Whoever she is, she is not just his enemy, but the enemy of all the remaining Dragon Kings. She is especially the enemy of the woman he first wanted to disgrace, but now needs to protect at all costs, even against the beast that is part of his own nature.
Escape Rating B+: I liked Blood Warrior better than Caged Warrior because Kavye and Tallis start the story in positions of relative equality. They have different sets of powers, but Kavye doesn’t start out the story beaten down to nearly nothing, the way that Audrey/Nynn does in Caged Warrior. I also liked Silent Warrior (see review) a lot for the same reasons.
Kavye is a bit naive about a few of the facts of life, and I don’t mean because she starts the story as a virgin. I mean that she believes that unification will be a whole lot easier than it could possibly be under the circumstances. Us regular humans have more trouble than she thinks her people will have, and we don’t have some of the more interesting curses they do, like the divided power of the Indraman twins and triplets.
Also she’s never explored the rest of the world outside her native India. Tallis has traveled the world, unfortunately mostly on murder missions for her evil mental twin. But he’s still led a much less sheltered life than she has.
On the other hand, she has a belief that things can get better, for them as individuals, and for their people. He doesn’t believe in much of anything. She gives him redemption, and he gives her, not just the right, but also the ability, to be her authentic self and feel real feelings and have an actual real life.
The other part that I enjoyed was that the backstory of the world of the Dragon Kings finally began to be revealed. Hallelujah! I needed this to get clearer for the overall story arc to make sense, and it’s getting there. We even met the Dragon.