This is book #26 in the Dark-Hunter Series by Sherrilyn Kenyon. The Dark-Hunter Series has different series within the series and the books tie in with other series that the author has written. I believe this one ties into Hellchaser and Were-Hunter which are both part of the Dark-Hunter Series and Lords of Avalon which is a different series altogether. I know! It can be very confusing but oh so worth it to read them. Plus, each book is contained within itself and designed to be read without having to read the rest of the series…BUT once you have read a Sherrilyn Kenyon book, you have to have more. It’s like they’re made of crack or some addictive drug.
Maxis Drago has been a part of the series for quite a while. We don’t know much about him except that he is a dragon in his true form and lives in the attic of the Sanctuary, a huge restaurant and bar in New Orleans that is supposed to be neutral ground for any species, god, demon or whatever. The Peltier family (bears in their other form) own and run it and their residence is attached.
The entire book is packed with information and history about Maxis and how he became known as the Dragonbane. It is long and complicated but I will try to describe it the best I can without spoiling the book. I’m going to do it simply and not go into too much detail but there is way more to it. I just don’t want to write pages and pages.
Thousands of years ago, a king and a god did experiments on animals, trying to join their spirits or souls with Apollites (a race that the god Apollo made in his arrogance, thinking he was better than Zeus) trying to beat the curse on the Apollite race where they die painfully at the age of 27 because the kings sons were Apollites. The king had two sons, Eumon and Linus who he planned on joining with the animals to save them from dying of the curse. Eumon was a good man but Linus was a whiny, spoiled little snot.
Maxis and his brother Illarion were captured and made part of these experiments. The experiments ended up making two different kinds of “Were-Hunters” or animal and human mixes; those that are born in animal form and later can shift to their human form were called Katagaria and those that are born in human form who can later shift into their animal form were called Arcadian. Katagaria can also be born in human form and be thought of as Arcadian but can later become Katagaria…I’m not sure of the science or story behind that bit.
Linus wanted to be joined with a dragon but his brother was joined with a dragon instead while Linus was joined with a wolf. Linus was jealous of this. Long story made short. Maxis ended up being branded as the Dragonbane, physically marked and branded. The story that everyone has been told and handed down for generations was that Maxis killed one of the princes which made an avalanche of problems, the biggest being the gods made a curse on all of the Were-Hunters pitting Katagaria against Arcadian and forever warring against each other. For that, all Were-Hunters hate the Dragonbane but they have no idea it is Maxis.
The book starts off with the bar, Sanctuary, closing at 4am. It closes to the humans at that time but is open to the paranormal clientele for the remainder of the night. A group of female Arcadian Amazon dragon-slayers led by their queen, Nala, comes down the stairs holding a knife to one of the Peltier brother’s necks and demands to have the mate of their tribeswoman handed over to them. Of course, no one knows that Maxis is the one who they are referring to so they tell Nala to basically bite the big one. Then another Amazon woman walks down the stairs and tells them that her mate is not there so all of the other Amazons teleport away.
The Amazon woman ends up being Maxis’ mate, Seraphina, who he has not seen in thousands of years because she betrayed him. One part of the curse against Were-Hunters is that they don’t get to choose their own mates. The Fates choose them instead. When two Were-Hunters meet and if the Fates decide they should be mated, sometimes it seems just to be cruel, both Were-Hunters receive a tattoo on their bodies. Usually, the mark is on their hands and it burns when appears. After the mark appears, the two are forever tied to each other. The male can never have sex with another female again because it renders them impotent for all other women and makes them physically sick and in pain if they attempt to have sex with anyone but their mate. So Max has been abstinent ever since he left Seraphina.
Maxis met Seraphina in a tavern just after his brother Hadyn was killed. He was there mourning. Seraphina was there because two times a year her kind go into heat and need to have sex so they go into the nearby towns and search for lovers. She seduced Maxis, thinking it would be a one night stand but then the Fates mated them. In their passion, they didn’t ask anything about each other but then Sera saw the Dragonbane mark on Maxis’ thigh and she knew he was…or she thought…he was a Katagaria dragon, her enemy. She and her tribe hunt and kill Katagaria dragons. When she was a child, a group of Katagaria dragons killed her whole village including her mother. She believes they are unfeeling animals.
They work it out and he agrees to go live with Seraphina and her tribe but the tribe is awful to Maxis. He endures anyway. Sera always sided with her tribe and queen. She was also demanding. Amazon’s believe the female is the boss and expect the male to do as they say and she demanded that Maxis be waiting for her in camp when she returned from battle and for him to have her dinner waiting for her. But while she is gone, the tribeswomen paw him and touch him inappropriately along with treating him poorly.
Once while she is gone, Nala tries to force Maxis to have sex with her and when she got forceful with him, he physically removed her from his tent. When Seraphina returned, Nala lied to her and said Maxis attacked her and demanded that Seraphina put a special magickal collar on him that would prevent him from shifting fully into his dragon form and bring him to her for punishment. And Seraphina did! Nala and her tribe almost killed him, cutting up his wings and beating him. He told Seraphina that he never wanted to see her again. His brother, Illarion, rescued him and took him away.
Now, Seraphina wants Maxis’ help. She tells him that his children need him. What children? Yeah, she was pregnant with his twins when he left and due to a long series of events, including a Zeus turning her tribe into stone, she never got around to finding him to tell him. Their son and daughter were taken by the gallu demon, Kessar, who is demanding the Dragonbane in exchange for the children (young adults, Were-Hunters age more slowly and plus they were entombed in stone for a long time). Kessar has gotten ahold of The Emerald Tablet and with the Dragonbane’s heart can do some sort of spell that will help him kill Stryker and the daimons he leads. Stryker is Kessar’s enemy but once was an ally until Kessar betrayed him. The daemons have learned that if they feed off of gallu souls that they can walk in daylight so Kessar wants to kill them.
What Sera doesn’t know, is that Nala is in league with Kessar. She made an agreement with him to hand over Seraphina’s children if Kessar released her tribe from the stone. And that Kessar has discovered that Maxis is the father of the children and he knows something about Maxis that he could use to destroy the world and even rule it. Kessar begins making plans that could release The Destroyer otherwise known as Apollymi, who would destroy the whole world and only leave darkness behind.
I gobbled up the pages of this book because I am such a fan of this series. I was lost in the drama, politics and history of the story which can get downright confusing and complicated. I found myself having to look up a few things to try to remember certain legends and why a certain law or curse happened or who certain people were. I mean, I know the characters in the books but there have been 26 of them so far and I forget who is related to which god or demon and so forth. Luckily, Sherrilyn’s website is FANTASTIC. It’s not just a page that shows her books and upcoming events or releases but she has a list of characters and their basic backgrounds, a family tree for one of her series and even a playlist to go along with each book. I am not sure she has a list of terms or if she does, how to get to them but I Googled some of the terms which brought me to that particular term on her website but I didn’t see an actual page that had the terms. That is okay though. Her website is better than any other author that I have seen.
I am currently reading a book that I have somehow missed. How the hell did I do that? It has multiple Dark-Hunter short stories or novellas in it. I read the first one, House of the Rising Son and then took a quick break to read this book but will continue reading the rest of the stories. I’m also thinking about re-reading the series, something I have never done with any series before except for Narnia when I was a kid. That should take me a good chunk of time and keep me busy until the her next book comes out…I read her other series too so I know the next book in The League series comes out in about three months.
I recommend this book series or any of her book series to everyone who likes paranormal romances. Even if you aren’t so into the romance part, the plot and storyline with all the myth and creatures is so interesting that it is worth it.