REVIEW: Nightborn by Lynn ViehlThursday, February 23, 2012 1:00
The Kyn are back. For those of you who prefer your paranormal romance set in a realistically built world, with characters that burst off the page, look no further. Add to that truly kick-a heroines, and you’re onto a winner. Nightborn deals with Korvel, the seneschal who captured Alexandra, and kept her from the man she loved in a previous book. He gets his redemption in this book, together with a woman who is so kick-a she could give Buffy lessons.
Simone lives in a nunnery in France. She wears the habit and lives simply. The other nuns are blind, but they are independent enough, although Simone is a great help to them. Her father lives or lived nearby.
Except from the beginning you’re aware that Simone is more…something, though you don’t know exactly what. The gradual unfolding of Simone’s secrets is one of the key points of the novel. It’s used to create tension, although there aren’t many big misunderstandings, except for one at the beginning, when Korvel thinks Simone is a nun and doesn’t make love to her out of respect for her vocation. That gets slightly irritating by the time they actually do, because it doesn’t add a great deal to the story, and just serves to put them off until it’s the right time. Otherwise, they would have done it earlier.
Korvel is English, the son of a Saxon lady and an unknown rapist. He serves as seneschal to Richard, the high lord who is still part animal, after ingesting animal blood for years. I really appreciate how the older characters in the Kyn books (and we’re talking centuries here) actually appear to be old. They have long memories, they’re not agonizingly hip, and they don’t make stupid decisions or behave like juveniles.
Simone rescues him from almost certain death, and then they spend most of the rest of the book together. However, Simone has a mission, and she can’t commit until it’s completed. Since she believes she’ll die in her mission, and as she comes to care for Korvel, she tries to save him from the consequences. But Korvel refuses to let her deflect him or fool him.
They are looking for a scroll, a very special scroll with, it is rumored, the secret of eternal life. So is one of Simone’s father’s ex-pupils. The few scenes in his viewpoint serve to demonstrate that he really is evil, not the Evil Overlord or a flat character. His wickedness is clearly demonstrated, unlike the endless scenes in the early BDB books featuring the Lessers, which I tended to skip. Even if he didn’t want the scroll and the translation, since it’s written in an ancient language few people can understand, he would be evil and you’d rejoice to see him dead.
The book also features another couple from earlier in the series – Gabriel and his sykensis, or wife, Nicola. Nicola is Kyn, that is, Lynn Viehl’s version of vampires, and Gabriel is a lord, but unlike all the others, they have no court, no territory, and Nicola still hates the Darkyn. She distrusts Simone and this proves a useful way of testing Simone’s desires and her feelings. The regular reader already knows Nicola, and she provides a sounding board for developments in this book. For new readers, she is an interesting and trustworthy character.
The romance between Korvel and Simone is most definitely there, but the story is of equal importance. However, the sex scenes are nice and hot, and the intimacy is of the heart-melting variety. Because of the time scale (short) and the frenetic pace of the action, there is little time for courtship, and not many places it could happen, but there is enough to believe in the developing relationship between Simone and Korvel.
Although Viehl’s world can be complex, it makes sense and is easy to pick up. Viehl does an excellent job of explaining the world, dropping the information in as needed in a natural way, rather than doing it with swathes of backstory or stopping the forward impetus of the story to explain. Many of the Kyn were once Knights Templar, and Viehl’s version makes a lot more sense than Dan Brown’s! It is a completely different legend and is as just as compelling as any other. In Viehl’s version, the Knights and others died, were buried and then dug their way out of their graves to become undead. They believe they’re cursed, but the recent additions to the Kyn believe that it’s more of an infection than a curse, a kind of Great Plague gone wrong (if you look up the dates of the Templars and the Black Death, it plays in perfectly).
Apart from a few short lines, the ARC was in great shape, so the book will be, too. However, it’s “Chaise longue,” not “Chaise lounge” (No it doesn’t, no it’s not, and yes I did). That one irritates me somewhat, but I don’t want a huge discussion about why to obscure or detract from this excellent read. And Viehl does her research. This book features a France I recognize, rather than some wish-fulfillment fantasy or an American-centric one. It’s beautifully evoked, and the American terminology is explained by some of the characters being American, or having spent time there. It makes me want to go back to visit Provence!
So is this the place to start if you’re new to the series? I don’t see why not, especially if you don’t mind a few Gabriel spoilers. She doesn’t give away too much of his book, so I’d say you’d be fine, and she explains the world cogently and well.
The action swept me along from start to finish, and although I had work of my own to do, work that was piling up somewhat, I didn’t want to put the book down until I reached the end. Highly recommended. You have got to pick this one up.
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…
No excerpt available.