Lynn Viehl’s Nightborn is a resumption of her Lords of the Darkyn series, but if you’re new to the series, you can start with this one, if you want to. She keeps spoilers about the other books to an absolute minimum.
There is no puppetry here, no events taking over the characters who do as they are told, rather than what the characters dictate. Everything moves organically. People make mistakes, and, in doing so, discover more about themselves. The thrills are there, too, great sex, action and excitement, but through it all, Viehl never loses sight of what is most important to readers – the characters. We suffer with them, rejoice with them and hold our breaths as they face danger that they can’t overcome without working hard and, yes, learning more about themselves. I lived the story along with Korvel and Simone, and then sighed in relief as they achieved their well-deserved happy ending.
I’ve devoured the Darkyn books as they came out and loved them all. Viehl writes about interesting, intelligent characters in a rock-solid, believable world. No TSTL or inconsistencies here. This is just about as good as it gets.
The High Lord of the Immortal Darkyn has sent his most trusted warrior, Korvel, to retrieve a coveted scroll that’s rumored to contain maps to Templar treasures and the secrets to eternal life. Uniting with Korvel to recover the dangerous artifact is Simone Derien, the daughter of the scroll’s guardian, and a woman with many deadly secrets…
And now an exclusive, never-seen-before excerpt just for our Pond visitors:
After washing and donning the garments Sister Simone had set out for him, Korvel tested the strength of his leg on the stairs. While the wound still throbbed, he felt none of the numbing coldness that would indicate any copper remained in his flesh. The young nun’s blood as well as the bloodwine the abbess had brought to him had done much to restore his strength, although he would need to feed several more times before he fought again.
Not from her, Korvel decided. He would not risk causing either of them to fall under the spell of thrall and rapture.
Outside the convent he saw Simone loading a bag and several boxes into the back of a rover. She moved with speed and efficiency, and while she still appeared pale she demonstrated no signs of weakness. During her tresoran training she had probably been conditioned to withstand the effects of regular blood loss. Over the centuries mortals who were born to serve the Kyn had gradually developed tolerances and immunities that ordinary humans lacked, such as a resistance to l’attrait.
She cannot resist my ability. No mortal female ever had. I could have had her a dozen times, and she would only have begged for more.
Her unremarkable clothing and the black cap she had used to cover her braids should have rendered her unnoticeable, but Korvel found his gaze drawn to the trousers, which emphasized the elegant length of her legs. When she bent over to arrange something the sweet curves of her buttocks made him clench his fists, but he didn’t look away.
Lust roiled inside him, but he could withstand the longing of his body. He knew why he wanted Simone; because he could not have her. Tresora or not, she was a nun. His honor would not permit him to violate the innocence of her body or the vows of chastity she had already taken.
She glanced up as he joined her. “It is only a few hours’ drive to Marseilles. We have friends there who will assist us in tracking the thieves.”
“Before we go I must return to my car and retrieve my belongings,” he advised her. “I left it on the road by the turn-off into the hills. Give me the keys.”
“I know all the roads as well as the quickest routes, Captain,” she pointed out. “You do not.”
Centuries of commanding instant obedience from the most vicious warriors among the Kyn had not prepared Korvel to be questioned by a mortal female. That she was right only further annoyed him. As he ducked into the passenger side of the rover, he asked, “Can you drive faster than a cabbage farmer?”
“I don’t know.” Now she sounded irritated. “I’ve never raced one.”
As soon as Korvel shut the door she started the engine and made a three-point turn, driving around the convent to a gravel-and-dirt road that divided two fields. He saw several men with large canvas bags slung across their torsos; each stood crouched over the short, leafy rows of vegetables. All the dead mortals he had seen at the château had been elderly, and all the women at the convent were blind. “Sister, why did the council not send men to protect the scroll and its guardian?”
“Until yesterday, no one knew it was here.” The rover bounced as she turned onto a narrow dirt road. “Helada has no need of protection.”
“You know the guardian personally?”
Her lips twisted. “All my life.”
He saw a wispy column of smoke rising in the distance. “Among the Kyn, Helada’s reputation is legend. In more than six centuries no one has ever laid eyes upon him. It has been said that he kills anyone who does. Now you tell me that you have known him for years.” When she didn’t reply, he added, “Why did he spare your life?”
“That is a very long story, Captain,” she said as she braked to a stop. “One that will have to wait for another time.”
She nodded at the windshield. “Your car is on fire.”
Korvel turned his head and swore as he saw the flames and smoke pouring out of the Audi. One of the rear windows had been smashed in, and the smoke carried with it the stink of grain alcohol.
Simone walked to the back of the rover, where she retrieved a small fire extinguisher and walked down to the Audi. By the time he reached her she had begun spraying foam through the broken window.
“Sister.” He caught her arm. “The petrol tank.”
“It hasn’t spread that far yet.” She continued using the extinguisher until the flames disappeared and all that was left was a smoldering ruin. She lowered the nozzle, peered inside at the sooty foam coating the interior, and then glanced down each side of the road. “Were you followed here?”
“No.” Korvel wrenched open the driver’s side door to see what could be salvaged. The heat had melted his mobile phone into a blob of plastic, and the nylon bag containing the rest of his belongings had been reduced to a pile of ash. As the foam dissipated he saw the glitter of glass spread across the back seat. The soot-blackened shards were too curved to have come from the smashing of the window. “They used a bottle of alcohol for the fire bomb.”
He went to open the trunk, and found it filled with smoke. The flames, however, had not reached his sword.
Korvel removed his coat to strap on his blade harness. As soon as the sheathed sword pressed against his shoulder blades the damnable sense of feeling naked disappeared. “What sort of field training did the council give you, Sister?”
“Field training?” She frowned. “None.”
He eyed her. “But you are tresora. You must have had some instruction.”
“I know what my duties are, Captain, and I am capable of attending to them.” Her expression turned bleak. “We should go.”
“I need a satellite phone.” When she didn’t produce one, he made an impatient sound. “Take me to a secure phone line, then. I must contact the high lord and relate what has happened to the scroll.”
“This is a farming village, Captain, not Paris. Your call will have to wait until we reach the city.” She started walking back to the rover.
Korvel followed her to the vehicle. “What was the council thinking? You are completely unprepared for this.”
She stopped in her tracks and slowly turned around. “How is it that you were prepared?” Her eyes shifted past him. “You came here alone, with no one to have your back. You tried to fight mortals armed with copper blades, and you’re still limping from a wound that should have killed you. You don’t know where they are or how to find them. Oh, and now you have no phone.”
He clenched his jaw. “I did not try to fight those mortals,” he told her. “I killed them. All of them.”
“Did you? Then tell me, Captain, where is the scroll? And who burned your car?” She tossed the fire extinguisher into the back of the rover and got in, waiting only until Korvel was inside before taking off.