Saturday, May 1, 2010

Sons of Destiny -- The Series -- by Jean Johnson

Needless to say, this is a "playing catch-up" week after having my hubby's health crisis last week and having to keep an eye on his recovery this week. But I did finish the Jean Johnson series as well as do about four or five reviews for The Book Binge, some of these books I just read and some reviews I hadn't written yet. So instead of doing eight reviews for this series I am just going to do a synopsis of each book. The Series is built around a family of brothers -- four sets of twins, none of them identical as far as I can tell, who are all mages but who have been exiled from their own country because of a 1,000 year old prophecy that would tie them to a great disaster that would occur if the oldest brother were to marry. Because he is fearful of marrying and all women have been prohibited from coming to the island on penalty of death, none of the brothers hold any hope for a happy future. Thus they were exiled on an island with minimal resources, left to die (or so their enemies hoped), without any women or other family. The stories are the accounts of how each brother fulfilled his destiny and the prophesy.

Book 1 -- The Sword: Saber, the oldest of the brothers, is known for his swordsmanship as well as his magical crafting of weapons. He is fearful of marrying because of the prophesied disaster that is believed will envelope the entire nation and homeland. However, in the midst of this solitary life an
American, Kelly Doyle, literally drops out of the sky. (Actually, the 8th brother who has been given the post of Matchmaker in the prophesy has found her and brought her to their island of Nighfall. The rockem sockem relationship that grows up between this formidable eldest son and the intrepid, brash, "no one is going to tell me what to do" American girl is funny and a delightful romance.
Book 2 -- Wolf: Saber's twin brother, Wolfer, is tall, muscular, a shape shifter, and one who moves about the island more in his wolf shape than any other although he is also a very good horse. He is hungry for his own mate -- a girl he met during his childhood and about whom he dreams. Little does he know that she has managed to leave the virtual enslavement of her family in order to come to Nightfall Island. This big, tall, muscular giant is as gentle as can be and adores Alys, in fact he has always been in love with her. This is a gentle and delightful romance between two gentle and caring people.

Book 3 -- The Master: Dominor, third born and oldest of the second set of twins is one of the most powerful mages in the family, but he is kidnapped by an invading army who is seeking to expand their empire and wants to take over Nightfall Island. He is taken to their country, sold as a slave, and is purchased by one of their mages, Serina who is Guardian of the Fountain, and who desires a man who can assist her to rectify an 800 year old magic "accident" that requires that they conceive a magic child together. Serina and Dominor muddle along together until they do indeed discover their deep affection for each other, conceive their child at the appropriate time (although Dominor does not realize that is his task until almost the last minute), and end up back on Nightfall Island. This is kind of an odd story, but several of the characters will show up in future books.

Book 4 -- The Song: Evanor, Dominor's twin, has been gifted with a magic voice, one which requires no amplification and to which his magic is tied. He is also the Lord Chamberlain of the new Kingdom of Nightfall and takes his household responsibilities very seriously. However, in the attack that resulted in his twin's abduction, Evanor lost his voice and thus, his magic. Mariel, a healer in the land where Dominor was taken and a surrogate sister to Serina, agrees to come to the Nighfall Island as Healer, and to attempt to regenerate Evanor's vocal chords. She brings her son with her and this couple ultimately come together to form the first complete family on the Island in over 200 years. It is a delightful story -- gentle, quiet, but sensual and caring.

Book 5-- The Cat: Two sisters who have been hounded and whose lives have been threatened by mages in their homeland are shipwrecked and ultimately land on Nightfall Island. As the series goes, this is wife number 5 & 6. However, this book is about the coupling of Trevan and Mara. Trevan is also a shifter -- he calls himself a "spell-shifter". Mara is a true shapeshifter, a prickly and snooty personality, a princess in her homeland who has run into exile to protect her sister. She ultimately finds a home in Nightfall, but her relationship with Trevan is fraught with difficulties, and this lady has trust issues. She resists Trevan's adv advances so that he shifts to a large, beautiful tabby cat who invades her private rooms and even sleeps in that shape with her. There is a lot to like in this book.

Book 6 -- The Storm: Trevan's twin Rydan is perhaps the "darkest" character in the family. An empath that struggles to handle the emotions of others as well as his own, he has separated himself from his brothers by sleeping when they are awake and doing his magical crafts during the night hours. Mara's sister Rora is drawn to this recluse as she, too, is an empath and comes to understand the pain that is a part of Rydan's everyday life. The first part of this book is nearly the same as the previous one, only from the other sister's point of view. I did not like that and skimmed a great deal of it. I thought their story was worthy of more creativity. Yet the gentle insistence of Rora in refusing to allow Rydan to remain "hidden" is a lovely romance and there are some surprises here as well.

Book 7 -- The Flame: The fourth and final set of twins is made up of Koranen and Morganen. Koranen is a Pyromancer, a mage that can produce fire, but who has not been able to form any relationship with a woman because his internal temperature rises when he becomes passionate to the point that he blisters the skin of his partner. He knows that his six older brothers have now found their mates and he knows that the only humans with whom he can mate are Aquamancers--those who can pull water from the atmosphere and from objects around them. Four single women come from an undersea city, knowing that they will possibly be courted by Koranen. This is the closest to "internet dating" these ancients come, but it is really sort of a fun book. There are lots of other things going on in this "kingdom" and sometimes they take over the story, but it is good to know that Koranen and his oddball mate find each other under very unusual and surprising circumstances.

Book 8 -- The Mage: The youngest son, Morganen, has been charged with finding mates for all his brothers before he can find his own bride. However, for months he has been in touch with Queen Kelly's best friend, Hope, and after waiting so long, he is able to bring her to Nightfall Island. There are some surprises here, not the least of which is a secret that Hope has not revealed until she arrives. Morg is a powerful mage and his brothers are not even aware of how powerful he really is. But he is kind and caring, patiently assisting his brothers toward their own happiness as he waits for his day.

I enjoyed the series as a whole, but I have to admit to skimming quite a bit toward the last. I think each book had some very good writing displayed and the ideas were quite inventive, but the later books got into some political and military stuff that just detracted from the personal stories to a greater degree that I liked. Personal preference, I am sure, but I didn't enjoy some of the books as much as others. Queen Kelly was a kick! She used her American ingenuity and her knowledge of technology to bring some inventive things into this alternate universe. She insisted on equality, courtesy, and good manners. She was a person who stood up for what was right, who ruled with power and authority even though initially she was the only person on the island who had no magical power. She had a very hard time giving up chocolate. All these brothers struck me as being "gentle giants" in a way, all of whom have had to learn to be patient under difficult circumstances and who have had to develop some fairly awesome coping skills.
All in all, these were good stories, although some would have not read the entire series. I tend to just "keep on keeping on." Even as as much as I liked some of the books, I give the series a rating of 3.75 out of 5.

1 comment:

Tracy said...

Alas I could only get through book 6 of this but I'm glad you liked it as a whole.