Title: Legends Rise. The Venators book 3
Author: Devri Walls
Publisher: Brown Books Publishing
Publication Date: July 14 2020
Comment: I received a free ecopy from @the_writereads in exchange for an honest review
Trigger warning for torture and mentions of sexual abuse of children.
Somehow this has ended up being my longest review despite me wanting to get the review up before lunch. Any glaring errors will be ignored because I have been typing for 3 hours now and I’m tired.
The path will be forged in sweat and blood.
Rune, Grey, the shape-shifter Beltran, and wilful vampire, Verida, set out to rescue their friend and mentor, Tate, from the gladiator games.
But first they must navigate the perils of Eon and its warring factions. Each of this band of four carries with them a secret that threatens to tear their group apart from within.
Rune now bears the mark of the promise she made to save Grey’s life–a nixie bubble lodged in her arm that could call her away to do their bidding or spell her death.
Even as their loyalty to their cause and to one another faces its greatest test, Rune’s twin brother Ryker is forging an alliance with their mortal enemy, the powerful sorceress Zio, who has plans of her own for the Venators and Eon. Hearts will be bared, secrets unveiled, and relationships made and destroyed in this stunning new instalment of the Venators series.
So, I had no idea that the third instalment was in the blog-osphere until I saw reviews starting to flood my Twitter timeline this week.
But… I love this series. Why wasn’t I contacted? Had I missed an email? Did I not reply in time? Have I done something to mortally offend either Devri Walls or @The_writereads? Was I blacklisted?
While I spiralled into self-flagellation and sleepless afternoons (Hey, I like to nap, ok?!) I wondered what I had done wrong.
Then I got an email asking me about another book from @The_writereads and I sort of CASUALLY mentioned that I had missed out on this tour and the bounteous Baron of books and blub offered me the ebook then and there. It was delivered to me on the evening of the 21st.
So, while I was supposed to be working yesterday, I hid my phone under the table and devoured the book like Tashara in a dungeon, glancing up only to glare at patrons who had the audacity to ask me questions that actually related to my job.
But I finished it within the day setting some sort of land-speed record. I think my phone thought I was having a seizure as the pages flew past but I didn’t care because the story was that gripping.
We left off at the end of book two with Rune under a Nixie obligation for saving Grey from certain death under Feena’s court.
Tate has been captured and is on his way to the gladiator games to reunite with his wife and son.
The Council are being little shits and acting like…well, politicians.
And Rune’s twin brother Ryker is holed up with Zio getting the villain’s guide to being a dick.
Now a lot of this book harkens back to things that happened in book one and two so it did take me a little while to sort out in my head who was who and why they were doing the things they were doing.
My main problem, however, is that Gail Carriger has a main vampire villain called Ambrose who is a dude and Devri Walls has a vampire villain called Ambrose who is a woman and my brain couldn’t distinguish between the two for a while.
But as my brain also can’t often distinguish between friends and food, that’s my issue.
As you can imagine from the third book in any series there is a huge cast of characters and it would have been really lovely to have a list at the beginning of the book with the major players but there are really only a few that we give a sh—uhh that relate to our story.
Grey. My poor baby Grey, who desperately needs all of the hugs, had such a rough time of it in this story. With a tragic backstory, horrific life and insane torture in his past you’d be forgiven for assuming he was some sort of Mary Sue or at least a stand-in for someone that Devri Walls hated at school. But the author has managed to make him into an understandable hero with self-esteem issues and the biggest heart this side of a Blue Whale.
He has some amazing character growth this book and really starts to be more of his own person than an apologetic hanger-on. He really comes into his own once he lets go of some of his shame over past trauma which, I feel, is handled with sensitivity and honesty.
Beltran the Shapeshifter may seem sexy and mysterious but he’s really starting to give me Angel vibes with his tortured ‘we can’t be together but let me stare at your ass’ bullshit.
As far as I can see the whole reason why he doesn’t think he can be with Rune is that she might get hurt or be used to hurt him. Maybe I’ve read too many Woe is me Vampire angst stories for this kind of self-flagellation to be sexy. But I was starting to think maybe all that shape-changing into large animals had left Beltran a little self-conscious about what he was packing. After all, the phrase is hung like a horse, not hung like a human.
That said I loved learning more about his past and his reasons for doing what he did to Verida. I appreciate his mental acuity as he puts together the various clues as to what is happening and manages to sort out machinations into cohesive plots.
Before about half-way through this book I would have said that Verida just needs either a damn good slap or to get laid. However, after her revelation at the ruins, I have slightly more sympathy for her. Only slightly though, she is one character who doesn’t seem to have any forward momentum. I still think she needs a slap but I would prefer someone else to do it while I stand far far back. Probably on a different continent.
Rune. *SIGH* Rune, sweetheart I had such high hopes for you last book. You started to grow and develop and were conniving and manipulating and had lost a lot of that spoiled little rich-girl schtick. Sadly, we saw a return to form as she whined and stomped her way through things, demanding full transparency from everyone whilst giving nothing back. Her only redeeming points were her acceptance of Beltran’s nature (however brief) and her unwillingness to let Grey suffer and die.
Zio is sultry and evil in its purest form and I am here for it! A villain who is unashamedly bad and doesn’t give a damn who knows it. She is badass and has her evil ducks in a row.
This sums up what I think of Ryker.
A lot of this book was character development and interactions leading to flashbacks so the descriptions were more internal than external. And they were wonderfully executed.
Devri (Ms Walls…Madame Walls?… or should I just call her the author? Is it rude to assume you can use her first name?) is a master at differentiating between her characters internal monologues.
You really felt deeply intrenched in their pain and angst over decision making and that really helped the story to move along and for you get in deep to the characters.
It is one of the only reasons I felt for Verida because you can feel her pain over her past.
I was particularly entranced over Tashara’s struggle with her succubus cravings and her dungeon activities. Have I mentioned that I love and adore Madame Walls writing style? It flows so wonderfully and you get so engrossed that you let your tea get cold.
Ok, so here is where I hammer out my understanding. This bit will possibly include spoilers.
Rune, Ryker and Grey are human descendants of a line of warriors called Venators. These warriors were once loved on Eon as they fought for truth justice and the American way. But they decided to go all Winchester Brothers and kill all supernatural stuff. They were wiped out centuries ago and those who didn’t die were shipped over to Earth to live.
All our myths and legends about the supernatural were stories from Venators passed down.
There are big changes brewing in Eon and so the Council wants some Venators brought back to help them keep the peace. Tate, a Gladiator on loan from Dracula (yes, The Dracula), brings over Rune and Grey leaving Ryker because he is a disaster waiting to happen. Verida, Dracula’s daughter, makes sure they reach the Council unharmed. The Council is annoyed.
On their first day in Eon, a man comes to the Council begging them to help save his wife and child from Werewolves. The council refuses but Grey goes anyway. Along with Rune and Tate they rescue the man’s wife but kill the Alpha of the pack. The Alpha’s son vows revenge and the Council is annoyed.
Zio has dragged Ryker into this world and is feeding him the Villains version of events which, because we’ve met the council, actually sounds quite plausible.
Zio attacks with a dragon.
Rune and Grey are saved by Beltran. Beltran flirts with Rune. Verida hates Beltran. Beltran is a shifter.
They injure the Dragon and come back to the Council.
The Council is annoyed.
Tate’s wife and son are kidnapped and forced to fight in a gladiator arena. Verida was supposed to keep them safe. Tate hates Verida.
Danshee (a miniature gargoyle type) knows where Tate’s family are. Danshee hides in fae territory. Grey runs after Danshee and gets kidnapped by Fae Queen Feena who turns him into living fertilizer. In order to rescue him, Rune has to make deals with the Council. The Council is annoyed.
Tortured and slowly cracking up, Grey starts seeing Feena’s plans in his head as visions.
Rune and Tate and possibly Verida (can’t remember) rescue Grey but he is attacked by poisoned trees and nearly dies. Rune has to make a deal with the Nixies to save his life. Feena is injured and quite possibly, although not quite entirely sure, is dead. Maybe.
Tate is kidnapped by Feena’s men and is to be taken back to the gladiator arena for a fight. The Council doesn’t know he has been kidnapped but if they did … they’d probably be annoyed.
This is where book 3 comes in. So spoilers ahead.
Rune, Grey, Verida and Beltran are travelling to save Tate from the Gladiator ring but they’ve disguised it by pretending they are delivering a cease and desist letter to Beorn who was the son of the Alpha that they killed in book one. He is decimating villages along with another pack led by Ransan and blaming it on the Venators.
Zio is hypnotizing vampires and shooting them through portals to kill the werewolves; like fanged zombie special ops. They kill Ransan’s pack which makes it harder for Beorn to unite the werewolves to fight the Council as everyone is too afraid to join- I think he wants to unseat Silen (the werewolf council head) for reasons.
Zio is training Ryker to be even more a jerk and he wants in her pants.
Feena’s (dead fae from book 2) son Keir is dragging Tate to the Gladiator arena to force him into a fight and Grey’s gang are following. (Taking the Hobbits to Isengard song playing in my head while I was reading this part.)
Now *takes deep breath* there’s a place called Kastaley which is a magic stronghold that can only be breached if you have two keys. Omri has one as he owns Kastaley and Feena had the other. Now Keir has it and he is using it as part of a bet. Ambrose wants the key and so she is wagering her council seat against the key of Kastaley (why do I want to say Casterly Rock… is this a Game of Thrones thing stuck in my head? Note, I’ve just looked it up on Google- yes it is.) The bet is that Ambrose’s dude will beat Keir’s dude.
Ambrose thinks she’s got this in the bag because her dude was trained by Tate the undefeated who she thinks is off with Grey’s group hunting wolves. Keir has got Tate the undefeated. She is also wearing a disguise because… the gladiator games are illegal and she’s on the Council so she can’t be seen there.
Keir wants the Council seat because his mother had some sort of plan for world domination and like any good mother’s boy, he’s angry at the Venators for killing his mother and thus thwarting her plan but it isn’t his plan and he has other plans that aren’t that plan.
They all meet at the arena where intricate plans are laid and cast aside. There’s a huge fight, an even huger spider and everything burns down- which is my favourite way to end a day.
But, I bet the Council are still annoyed.
Intricate, involved and having more twists and turns than Bake Off pastry week, Venators 3- Legends Rise does not disappoint. If you like your characters deep and complex, your plot tight and engaging and your stories full of betrayal and machinations then you have got to read the Venators series.