Thursday, December 11, 2014

Emmy's Book Review... Twisted

This is the last book in the Eternal Guardians Series, for the moment.  It is one I have been looking forward to because it is  Nick’s story.  We first met Nick in the very first book, and although my first impression of him was that of a creepy stalker, I was soon proven wrong.  Nick is the leader and protector of the Misos colony here on Earth.  The Misos are half human, half Argolean, and until Isadora came to power, were completely ignored and unprotected by all of Argolea.  Nick has built himself and his people quite a sanctuary here on earth, offering any and all Misos a place where they can live without fear that any powers they may develop from their other halves would expose them.  

Living together also offered them protection against daemons, Atalanta’s former minions, who for years hunted any Misos they could get their hands on.  Since Atalanta’s demise the daemons have just run wild, with no one to restrain them.  This wonderful safe place that Nick built has all gone to ruins in the last book - Hades knows where the colony is now, and the secret that kept them invisible.  Daemons and satyrs attacked the colony, and all of the Misos made a mad dash for the portal for Argolea, and safety.  Right now they are all in Argolea, and the Argolean Council is NOT happy about that.  

Nick himself is a mystery.  His mother, Atalanta, was the Argonauts greatest enemy for millennia.  She tried to manipulate a prophecy by having Nick and his brother Demetrius.  Demetrius is the son of Atalanta and a notoriously ruthless Argonaut warrior.  Until recently Nick thought he was the son of Atalanta and a human, a serial killer.  They are twins, so Atalanta was pregnant at the same time with two children with two different fathers. Superfecundation, kids, that’s the fifty cent word for today.   Due to the soulmate curse put on the Argonauts by the goddess Hera, Nick and Demetrius have only one soulmate between them, Isadora.  Isadora and Demetrius have married at this point, and in the last update have just had a baby girl.  Nick sacrificed his soul to save the soul of Isadora, when she was dying in childbirth.  He made a deal with Hades to take him instead of her, because she had sold off her soul way back in the first book to save her sister, Casey’s, life.  Hades takes that deal, because he knows something that we don’t know.  Nick is not just the son of Atalanta and some random human, he is the son of Kronos, Titan and former king of the gods.  

All of his life he felt this dangerous darkness within him, and thought that it was from his mother.  Turns out that he got a double dose of the pure evil genes.  Kronos is imprisoned in Tartarus, and unable to escape. Atalanta came up with this plan while also imprisoned in the Underworld.  Using his powers Kronos made Atalanta mortal long enough to get her pregnant, which makes our friend Nick a true demigod, the like of which has not been seen since the original heros that all of the Argonauts are descended from.   What does Hades hope to accomplish by taking Nick’s soul?  He gives him to his son, Zagreus, and tells him to torture him, and break his spirit.  Why?  For some reason, Hades thinks that if Zagreus can break Nick’s spirit then whatever power he has (they are as of yet, dormant) will be his to command.  Zagreus gives Nick over to Cynna, whose story is a mystery.  She is his plaything, and is shocked that Zagreus is giving Nick to her to torture.  We are told that she is there for revenge, but at this point the rest of her story hadn’t been revealed.  

Hades is furious that Nick hasn’t been broken yet, and threatens to come back in a month and take Nick back with him to the Underworld.  He also threatens to destroy Zagreus’ little hellhole and all of his pet nymphs and such.  And Cynna, as well.  Hades knows that she is Zagreus’ weak spot.  Cynna is fonder than she should be of Nick, and gives him a sympathy handjob after zagreus orders him sexually tortured by nymphs into a state of blue balledness.  Zagreus knows she’s fond of him and catches her back in her room right after she does this.  He drugs her and injects her with a tracking device, but when she comes to she does not remember this.  She helps Nick escape. Nick insists they get out as many of the other prisoners as they can when they go.  Cynna is injured fighting with the satyrs, but they get away into the jungle.  Turns out they are in Belize.  Cynna tells Nick to leave her because she is slowing him down, but he’s already half in love with her and tells her that she will be his prisoner for now.  He tells himself that she’s insurance, but he’s fooling himself.  They get to a village where he finds meds for her and a phone, and he calls someone to come get them.

Nick’s gifts are starting to come online - he was already an excellent tracker, but now he can sense how many humans are around him (asleep, in the houses in the village) and he’s developed telekinesis - he opens a door with his mind.  They are getting stronger as time passes.  While they are waiting for rescue we find out a little more about Cynna.  She is Argolean, her parents were murdered, and they are who she is seeking revenge for.  She went to Zagreus to be trained to fight, but didn’t figure that he would fall for her and refuse to let her go.  I noticed before they made their escape that it was kind of sweet how much Zagreus cares for her, and fights against his darker nature not to hurt her, even though he eventually winds up doing just that.  I wondered if that might come into play later, because Zagreus, despite being the Prince of Darkness, just doesn’t come off as purely cruel and deliberately evil  as Hades does.  

Back in Argolea Isadora is not feeling well and is being stubborn about it. Callia worries because she cannot feel anything wrong with Isadora (all the Horae share each others ailments) but she is obviously sick.  Turns out Callia is pregnant which is why she can’t feel what Isadora’s problem is.  Isadora insists that she’s just tired and stressed out because she is a new mother, a fairly new leader, and her husband is blaming himself for his brother’s disappearance. They are having no luck finding Nick, who at this point has been missing for the past six months. Callia and Casey point out that if Isadora dies, then they all do, along with Zander and Casey’s and Callia’s unborn children.  They are all three connected, and Callia is Zander’s only weakness.  (That’s messed up, can you imagine one of them getting the flu and it taking out all four of them at the same time?  The PMS around there must be killer.)

Back in the jungle Nick and Cynna are rescued by a very interesting dude named Ari.  I’m gonna go on about him for a minute because I’ve got a hunch that he will be important later, maybe in a later book.  I sure hope so, cause I liked his character a lot just from the short scene we had with him.   (Yes, I couldn’t help it, I pictured Avi from Pentatonix.  Don’t judge me, I love that guy’s voice.)  Ari  is Argolean, an ex-Argonaut named Aristokles.  Cerek, one of the current Argonauts is his son.  Ari  has one blue eye and one green, and can heal with his hands. Nick tells Cynna that Ari’s people think that he’s dead, that he faked his own death.  He’s the one who suspects, finds and removes Cynna’s tracker.  Turns out that his soulmate was a nymph who was killed by the Sirens on Zeus’ orders. An Argonaut without his soulmate is a dangerous, dangerous creature.  He went on a killing spree and was banned to the human realm -  Cerek brought him back- Ari faked his death to get them all to leave him be.  He has dedicated the rest of his long lonely life to hunting and killing the Sirens that killed his soulmate.  Him and Skyla are gonna get along grreeeeaaat.  (rolls eyes)

Nick and Cynna go back to the colony, and find all the destruction from the attack. Nick has a guilt trip meltdown because he feels responsible for letting his people get killed.  He doesn’t know that so many of them escaped, all he is seeing is the burnt out castle and hearing the screams of the dying.  (Visions suck, ya’ll.)   He lashes out at Cynna.  He winds up shackling her to a wall and what started out as him wanting to torture her the way she directed his torture for the last six months quickly turns into something else.  Now a side note:  I know the author was trying to make Titus come off as kinky in his book, what with him tying his lovers up and all, but she accomplishes kink at a much better level with these two. They actually enjoy pain, and are a much better fit for each other in that respect.  In my humble opinion, of course.  I kept picturing Cynna as either Vanessa Williams or Halle Berry from the way she is described.  Either way, they have one hell of a time together in the caves, and when he almost has another meltdown (the darkness within him is fighting to get out and destroy something, he is fighting to control it) she distracts him, gives him something else to think about.

She balancing his urge to kill and destroy out, and he is falling harder and harder for her every moment.  She is getting leery of how strongly he feels for her, and she for him, and while he’s in the shower attempts to leave, to run away.  She is caught by the rest of the Argonauts, who detected movement in the burnt out colony and figure that it might be Nick.  They insist that he come back with them to Argolea, that his soulmate bond to Isadora might be the key to why she is weakening so rapidly.  He agrees to go, but insists that Cynna comes with them.  Cynna’s not thrilled at all with this, but she’s half in love with Nick as well at this point, and doesn’t kick up too big of a fuss about it.  You can tell she is dreading going back there, though, which only made me more curious as to what her real story was.  

Back in Argolea they think that the reason Isadora is weakening is that Nick’s demigod powers are growing.  They find an account of three mortals that were given the choice between death and becoming judges in the Underworld.  The mortals agreed to become the judges, but the consequence was that their soulmates on earth wasted away and died, just as Isadora appears to be doing.  Her pulse evens out as soon as she touches Nick, which only seems to support this theory.   Here is where we find out a major part of Cynna’s story - Isadora is the person that she was training to kill to avenge the deaths of her family.  Needless to say, the awkward level in the room goes up a hundredfold when they meet, and when she finds out that Isadora, of all people is Nick’s soul mate….

Cynna runs out of the castle and flashes to her former home, trying to get the heck away from everybody.  She is shocked to discover that Kyrenia, her former home, is where the escaped Misos are all living.  The coven leader of the witches, Delia, who is also there, recognizes her.  Apparently the council and the king at one time approved an attack on that colony, and they killed everybody there - mass genocide. it wasn’t just witches living there, there were lots of people hiding from the council.  Cynna blames Isadora for not stopping the attack.  For anyone who has been reading this series from the beginning, it’s laughable to think that Isadora could have done anything about it, as much of a wimp as she was at the beginning of this series.  Nick chases Cynna down at the colony, and they reunite.

Now for some backstory on Nick, and let me warn you, it’s a doozy.  Nick was raised with his twin Demetrius  until he was 10.  Dem’s dad always acted like he was leery of Nick, and we find out now that it was  because he could sense that he had the potential to be VERY powerful. When he was 10 Nick was made to go through the cleansing ritual. We first heard of this when we found out that Callia had it done to her in the second book. It’s a ritual whipping to purge the victim of “sin”.  Nick’s scars on his back and the one on his face have been mentioned at least once every time we ran across him in this series, and now we find out that this is where he got them.  The one on his face was when he “moved when he wasn’t supposed to”.    Ugh that’s just… wonder he hates all of Argolea.  After they beat an innocent 10 year old to bloody ribbons they opened a portal and dumped him in the human realm to fend for himself.  He showed them however, by surviving himself and helping other Misos (which at the time was what he thought he was) to survive as well when all of Argolea would just as soon as ignored them at best and exterminated them at worst.  

The rest of the Misos in the colony are thrilled to see Nick, and he is likewise glad to see them, for he thought them all killed in the attack on earth.  He also feels guilty, for while his people were fighting to escape and being killed by daemons and satyrs, he was trading his soul for Isadora’s .  Since he and Cynna have gotten together the pull he feels towards Isadora feels nothing like love.  It feels more like obligation, or duty.  Cynna is the only one he wants.  He craves her, and the balance that she gives him from his darkness, and her acceptance of all of the dark twisted pieces of him.  Callia and the others think that the only way to stop Isadora’s wasting away is for her and Nick to cement their soulmate bond by sleeping together.  Nobody is happy with this solution, but it’s the only way that they can see.  Nick promises his brother that he will go see Isadora, out of pity of him.  Dem is falling the heck apart at this point.  Nick and Isadora meet, and it was worth a laugh to see just how uncomfortable they both were with each other, and the idea of doing anything like that together now.  

They both decide that they are just not going to do this.  If he has to spend hours just sitting with her and holding her hand to make her feel better then he will, but they won’t be going any further than that.  

Nick returns to Cynna, who thinks that the deed was done, and is happy to find out that it wasn’t.  We find out more about her, and why her eyes looked so familiar to Nick all of this time.  Turns out that Cynna is Isadora’s sister.  Isadora’s mom, Andromeda, was previously thought to have been killed in a daemon attack on earth. Leonidas, Isadora’s dad and the former king,  was even more of an asshole than we previously thought.  Andromeda left Leonidas for Cynna’s dad, who was the token “dark-skinned” (don’t yell at me, that’s how it was written in the book) guy on the council.  They wound up living in Kyrenia, with the witches and other refugees and people trying to stay out of the way of the council.  The council’s attack on the colony was not an attack on the witches, although I’m sure that was just a fringe benefit to them.  The focus of the attack was to wipe out the former queen.
Isadora is shocked and happy to find out that she has another sister.  She asks Cynna if their mom was happy, if she remembered her being happy, because for her entire life she never saw her mom happy.  Cynna finally realizes that Isadora couldn’t have done anything about the attack, and lets her grudge go.

Hades and Zagreus haven’t been just sitting on their hands this entire time.  Even though Cynna’s tracker was taken out, what she doesn’t remember (until now) is that Zagreus fed her his blood as well.  Zagreus plans to show up and make Nick think that Cynna was betraying him the entire time, which would break him emotionally.  Nick’s no dummy though, and has figured this out already. Hades and Zagreus attack the city with daemons and satyrs.  The Argonauts and castle guards are hopelessly outnumbered.  Nick has an aha moment, and  figures that Zeus can help him unlock his powers.  Skyla takes him to Zeus, then she  heads over to find Athena and the other sirens, to get them to come help fight the satyrs.  Nick talks to Zeus and Poseidon, and finds out that while Hades and Zagreus were trying to break his spirit so that they could control his powers, all he really had to do was accept them willingly, embrace the darkness within him, in effect, and the rest of his powers would come online, complete with the ability to control them, because he chose it.  

As soon as he takes possession of his powers the soulmate bond between him and Isadora disappears, as does the Argonaut markings on his arms.  Nick’s a real demigod now, with all of the perks attached to that status.  He comes back to Argolea and flash fries the remaining bad guys, only to find that cynna went to Zagreus and told him she would go with him if he would pull his satyrs off of the attack.  They were badly outnumbered and there was no way they were going to be able to hold the city.  Nick realizes what she did, sacrificed herself to save the city.  Next thing we see is Nick appearing in Zagreus’ lair and rescuing Cynna, surprisingly without a fight.  I think Zagreus really did love her in a way.  She tells him (not exactly these words) that he has a choice too, that even though he’s Hades’ son he can still make his own choice to be evil or not.  Zagreus realizes that his dad is about to come down on him like a ton of bricks, he can feel him coming.  He tells them to get out while they can.  They flash out, and emerge on the edge of a gigantic sinkhole, all that’s left of Zagreus’ place, hades has destroyed it all and swept Zagreus  to the underworld, to be punished for double crossing him.  

I thought that I would be burned out on this series by the time I reached this point, but I find that I am curious for more.  The characters introduced in this book makes me wonder just what will happen next.  Hopefully we will see more of both Zagreus and Ari in coming books.  I think that the author really did Nick a good turn for his story.  I love how he was sort of the bastard son, the Misos leader, the guy that the rest of the Argonauts trusted, yes, but didn’t really accept.  And to have him come out to be the most powerful of all??  **FIST PUMP** Most awesome!  Nick went from a character that I really didn’t think too much about (remember my first impression was that of a creepy stalker) to what he is now, one of my favorites.  I don’t know when the next book is coming out, but I will be looking forward to spending some more time with this author and the world she has created.  

Till next time!

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