This is the second book in the Lords of Avalon series by Kinley MacGregor also known as Sherrilyn Kenyon. I don’t believe there are any more books in the series but the idea and at least one of the characters (Blaise) are continued in the last two books that were released of the Dark-Hunter series, Son of No One and Dragonbane.
Long ago, the realms of Avalon and Camelot were separated from the realm of man. After King Arthur was defeated and killed, the evil Morgen Le Fey took over Camelot while the good guys took over Avalon.
Varian is the son of Lancelot and an evil woman named Narishka who is one of Morgen Le Fey’s minions. Because of his mother’s trickery to get into Lancelot’s bed, Lancelot never treated Varian very well and none of the other knights in Avalon like or trust Varian except for Merlin who uses him as her assassin.
When Merlin learns that one of the six Grail Knights has been killed, Merlin knows she has a spy in her ranks so she sends Varian to find out what happened. The existence of the Grail Knights is only known by a select few and if Morgen learns the identities of the remaining five, she could find the Grail and become the most powerful person in the universe. Each Grail Knight knows a piece of the puzzle to unlock the whereabouts of the Grail.
Merewyn used to be the most beautiful woman on Earth, said to be even more beautiful than Helen of Troy. When her father tried to marry her off, Merewyn made a deal with Narishka to become ugly so that the man would not want to marry her and in return she would become Narishka’s servant for one cycle of the moon. But Narishka tricked her because in the land of Glastonbury, a land that was also sucked up when Avalon and Camelot were ripped from the realm of man, the cycle of the moon never completes so Merewyn has been Narishka’s servant for centuries while maintaining her hideous appearance.
Everyone in Glastonbury and Camelot treat Merewyn with disdain and disgust because of her hideous appearance but when Varian goes to Glastonbury to find out what happened to the Grail Knight, he is kind to Merewyn. Narishka sees this and realizes Varian’s one weakness is compassion and decides to use it against him. Narishka slaps a golden bracelet that negates magick onto Varian and imprisons him in Camelot. She makes a deal with Merewyn to give back her beauty and freedom if she agrees to be nice to Varian and take him food and water.
Varian sees through the rouse though and tells Merewyn that he knows she is the same person as the hideous creature and that he knows what his mother is trying to do. Narishka wants him to come to work for the dark side. Merewyn asks Varian if he will take him with her if she frees him and he agrees so Merewyn gets Blaise to help them.
We met Blaise in the first book. I actually liked Blaise better than any of the other characters in the Lords of Avalon series because of his sarcastic wit and his admitted save-his-own-butt attitude. He is a mandrake which is a dragon mixed with some other species but Blaise was abandoned by his family because of his Albinism. In his human form, he is almost blind but that does not make him any less lethal. He lives in Camelot acting as one of the bad guys but he is a spy for Merlin. The reason Merewyn knew that he would help them is because she saw the mark on his shoulder while he was bathing in the river but never knew what it was until the Grail Knight was killed and she saw the same mark on his shoulder. Merewyn knows that Blaise is also a Grail Knight.
Blaise and Merewyn are able to free Varian but unable to take the bracelet off his arm so he cannot use his magick to flash them out of the realm. They end up having to run to the Valley of No Return which is exactly what it sounds like. Morgen banishes all her lovers there once she gets bored of them. No one has ever returned and it is said that the land itself is treacherous with still water that explodes and trees that start on fire. Varian, Merewyn and Blaise may be stuck there forever.
This book was okay but lacked the wow-factor that I associate with Sherrilyn Kenyon’s writing. It is probably because she wrote it a long time ago…at least I think. If anyone has ever followed my reviews, they would know that Sherrilyn Kenyon is my favorite author of all time so to say anything negative makes me feel like I am betraying her. I think if this were any other author, I might have loved the book but because I have set Sherrilyn on my really ornate and beautiful imaginary pedestal, I hold her to a higher standard than other authors. I know it is unfair to her yet I can’t help it. If I could just believe Kinley MacGregor was a separate person from Sherrilyn Kenyon, I could really like this book because I would not have set my expectations so high.