To quote Mae West; “When I’m good I’m very very good but when I’m bad I’m better.”
How about another? “Being bad has never felt so good.”
In my review of Dreams of a Dark Warrior, I said that Lothaire reminded me of Angelus and Spike from Buffy in how they were evil, killed people for fun but had such a blast whilst doing it that I just happily went along for the ride cheering them on whilst they did it. This should give you some idea of how thoroughly entertaining Lothaire is. He is the consummate bad boy. He is evil, handsome, intelligent, arrogant and has such a scathing wit that is a marvel to behold. Oh, and he’s also very slightly insane from having drank blood directly from the vein and horny for his bride.
Whereas all of the previous men of the series can be described as ‘bad’, they’ve really not been. As such, when they’ve done something wrong, it’s drawn a feeling of disapproval. That disappears with Lothaire though. Because he is unashamedly on the opposite side to all of the preceding characters and honest about, that disapproval is not in evidence because his actions are fully expected. Killing prison guards to rescue his bride from execution? Yep, go for it, Lothaire.
His bride’s current host; Elizabeth ‘Ellie’ Peirce is pretty much the polar opposite of him and Saroya, the vampiric goddess that wants to replace Ellie’s soul with her own so that she’ll have a permanent body once again. There is a little Stockholm Syndrome going on. After all, as the book blurb states; she was snatched from death row only to face death in another way so if a way to live was found by seducing her captor, what other option was open to her? And whilst Lothaire and Saroya may be the perfect match made in, er, hell in that they both want the same things; a life together for eternity, murder, mayhem, that sort of thing, could she be any more of a bitch? She is simply evil and arrogant. She can’t claim the looks because those are Ellie’s and she has none of the intelligence or wit to foil Lothaire.
However, whilst most mortals would possibly be quaking in terror in Ellie’s situation, she has no fear. After all, given her situation, she actively seeks death to prevent more deaths of innocents so she has nothing to lose by using every means at her disposal. And those means are considerable. She may not have had a full education but she earned a psychology degree whilst in prison. She may be from poverty and not have travelled but this gives her a appreciation that others simply do not have. She may, by her own admission, be sexually desperate but then so is Lothaire and despite him being older than dirt, she still has more experience than someone who ‘acts like a fifteen year old with his first feel of tit’. And yes, she’s delightfully mouthy as well giving back to Lothaire as much as he does when he derides her.
It was interesting to see the other side as well. Up until now, everything has been viewed from the side of team good. Even those that were supposedly on team evil such as Sabine and Lanthe weren’t exactly there by choice and were shown to be good people anyway. But to see the conflict from the opposing force’s point of view was refreshing and in some circumstances begs the question of what is evil? Is it by deed or just the fact that they are not on the same side as the good guys? The hag is another example. Even though the name no longer applies her actions and her friendship with Ellie do not an evil creature make. Poisonous skin aside.
After all the books so far and after the very slight dip in enjoyment of Dreams of a Dark Warrior, Lothaire is a take on the tale of Beauty and the Beast and is an outstanding addition to the series and one of the finest and definitely one of my favourites alongside Sabine’s and Carrow’s stories. In fact, I fear Kresley Cole may have set such a high bar with this one that future books in the Immortals After Dark series will be held up against this. Current fans of the series will already have this on their list so I’m preaching to the choir. Those considering starting the series need to do so to get to this book.
Not only that, with Shadow’s Claim due out shortly at time of writing, we are introduced to the vampire kingdom of the Daci and a whole slew of new characters. Whilst all that is going on, more is learnt of Nix and how she works and the Valkyries continuing search for their queen; Furie. And talking of the much loved valkyries, whilst the majority of this book is set in Lothaire’s world, the residents of Val Hall have their share.
One final point that has only just occurred to me, despite Lothaire’s presence throughout the series; I wonder if his name is based on Lothario, the seducer from The Fair Penitent. One more thing; giving someone your heart and giving them the finger are just FUCKING. EXPRESSIONS. Seriously. I mean, really?