EVERMORE by Lynn Viehl
I've mentioned this book many times since I received the ARC. I set it aside to savor when I really wanted (needed!) something good to read. With this being the fifth installment in the Darkyn series, I was depending on this book to be good. Very good. I have to admit that I'm one of those readers that expects at some point to be disappointed. Rather than call this cynicism I call it being realistic that an author I really like at some point might falter. After all it's the human condition. Nobody can write a great book every time out.
Thankfully and most gratefully that wasn't the case with EVERMORE. This was a wonderful read, a satisfying read and an excellent addition to the series. You can read an excerpt here.
I go through periods of my reading when I want nothing to do with a series. I just want a good read that stands all on its own. I don't want the complication of having to recall something from previous books or worse end up pulling out a prior book so I can understand what's going on in a current read.
It's for this reason I have so much admiration for an author who can give a singular experience within the context of a series. Two authors come to mind that do this for me. Nalini Singh and Lynn Viehl. Having recently read both Ms. Singh and Ms. Viehl I am struck by this one similarity in their work. They both are able to provide a quality read with distinctive characters and an interesting plot while continuing to world build and progress their series. The consistency and caliber of both the psy-changling series of Ms. Singh and the Darkyn series of Ms. Viehl are noteworthy.
If you are already a fan of Ms. Viehl's Darkyn series you won't be disappointed in EVERMORE. Without a gimmick of time travel Ms. Viehl is able to produce a sort of contemporary historical. In this book she brings the world of the Templars into the 21st century.
The main character, and a winning one she is, is Jayr. Turned at 17 years of age she has now lived over 700 years almost entirely in service as a seneschal to Byrne. A Scot and a berserker in battle Byrne finds himself increasingly attracted to Jayr and decides to abdicate his little piece of the Kyn world (called jardins in the series) and separate from Jayr. Jayr thrives in the modern world running the Realm, think Medieval Times sort of place, while Byrne longs for a simpler time with fewer people and less technology.
Before you groan thinking that this is a re-tread and a story you've heard before, let me just say that Ms. Viehl deals with some very obvious obstacles that have kept these two apart. For instance, how've they managed to live together for hundreds of years without their mutual attraction never, pardon the pun, coming up? Personally I loved the way this was handled and explained. It's simple and obvious, at least after it's revealed. It also made sense and was dealt with in a realistic way.
One of the more interesting and unique facets of the story is Jayr, although female, is not really thought of as such or treated as such by the males. There is no hidden gender or trickery. All the Kyn know she is female but respect and behave toward her as another male. The distinction being that being treated like a man is better than being a woman being treated like an equal. There is a very healthy respect for Jayr without any equivocation which I found refreshing. Her intelligence, fighting skills, aplomb, and her success running the Realm are accepted and noted as a matter of fact. To have men admire and respect a woman as a matter of course instead of marveling at "look what that woman did" was a breath of fresh air. In fact Byrne in many cases is the window dressing. What does he do exactly? A neat twist to be sure. Oh and ask yourself, why is it so easy for them to treat Jayr like a man?
It is the little things that tickle me. Ms. Viehl pointing out something as simple as people among the Kyn who would embrace all things new and love the modern world, along with those who would eschew the modern and long for the simplicity of another time. Dealing with issues like whether immortality is all that it's cracked up to be, or how long a person can hold a grudge when immortal make these books interesting and thought provoking. The paranormal aspects may not be anything new, but how we think about them and Ms. Viehl's approach to them certainly is.
I'm so grateful I got this to read. Although now I realize that with this releasing January 2, 2008, I have, most likely, more than a year to wait for the next one. For those of you who are concerned with these sorts of things...this is a series book that can stand on its own. Although I warn you, you are likely to go looking for the other books once you read one of the Darkyn series.
The books in this series in order are:
IF ANGELS BURN