Literature / Immortals After Dark
Every five hundred years, the Lore, a varied group of mythical Immortals, make their alliances and go to war in the Accession. Each faction makes its own ties, but they are roughly split into the good Vertas and the evil Pravus (though both are very violent and no faction can claim to be uniformly "good" or "evil"). As one book describes it, the Accession is a series of events that, "about a decade into it, ... [begin] to come into play, as if fate was seeding future deadly conflicts, involving all the players at a startling rate. Like windmill vanes on a rusted spoke, it began creaking, creeping to life, only to gain momentum and soar with speed every five hundred years."
Humans within the series have mistaken this for an Apocalypse type battle, but the Lore itself rather looks forward to Accessions as they shake the monotony of immortal life, cull the population of Immortals, realign the factions, and tend to bring mates together.
The series often takes place in New Orleans, which the soothsayer and Valkyrie Nix the Ever-Knowing (AKA Nucking-Futs Nix) predicts will be the main 'battlefield' of this Accession. The first few books alternate between the vampiric Wroth brothers and the Lykae clan MacRieve. The next few tell more about the other species of Lorekind, including the Demons, Sorceri, Witches and the Berserkers.
Definitely a case of Our Monsters are Different, Immortals After Dark is a Paranormal Romance
series by Kresley Cole with 12 full length novels (some over 500 pages long) and two short stories published in anthologies. Also has a spin off series with one book so far.
The books are:
- A Hunger Like No Other: The half-Valkyrie, half-vampire Emmaline Troy finds herself captive to the Lykae King Lachlain MacRieve, who is determined to claim her as his mate.
- No Rest for the Wicked: The vampire soldier Sebastian Wroth is caught up in the Hie— a race for magical prizes his reluctant Bride Kaderin, a Valkyrie, is determined to win.
- Wicked Deeds on a Winter's Night: Bowen MacRieve, Lachlain's Lykae cousin, participates in the Hie for the chance to bring back his long dead Mate. The contest reveals a twist of destiny for him and the witch Mariketa.
- Dark Needs at Night's Edge: Conrad Wroth, a vampire, is captured by his brothers in an attempt to rehabilitate him from his blood-born madness. Trapped in an abandoned New Orleans mansion, he is soon beguiled by another occupant—a ghostly girl named Naomi who sets his once dead heart beating.
- Dark Desires After Dusk: Cade, brother to the rage demon king, finds his Bride in a half-human, half-Valkyrie named Holly, newly awakened to her supernatural nature. But Holly is terrified of his demonic origins and of the Lore which is her new life.
- Kiss of a Demon King: Rydstrom Woede, the rage demon king who has lost his crown, is captured by Sabine, a sorceress who plans to use him for her own reasons. But while Rydstrom plots his escape, he is sure of one thing—he will have Sabine for his own, on his terms.
- Pleasure of a Dark Prince: Garreth MacRieve, the prince of the Lykae clan, is inexorably drawn to Lucia the Huntress, a Valkyrie who never misses her shot. From the shadows, Garreth has long watched over Lucia. Now, the only way to keep the proud huntress safe from harm is to convince her to accept him as her guardian.
- Demon from the Dark: Half-vampire, the demon Malkom Slaine has long fought his hunger. But the green-eyed Witch, Carrow Graie, awakens a new hunger in him, even as he guards her life.
- Dreams of a Dark Warrior: the warlord berserker Aidan is doomed to die for his love, the Radiant Valkyrie Regin. Her love brings him to a new incarnation, but each time he remembers his past, he is once again killed. Can Regin find a way to love him without telling him what he is?
- Lothaire: Lothaire, the Enemy of Old, has been playing his Endgame for millennia. His goals? Avenge his mother and become king of two vampire kingdoms. He needs the vampire goddess Saroya as his wife to take control of the kingdoms. Saroya needs a body to incarnate into. The last obstacle in his path is a 24 year old mortal girl who is the current occupant of the body Saroya wants. He's killed girls like her for breakfast for thousands of years. So what is it about Elizabeth Peirce that stops him from achieving all the goals he has sacrificed everything for?
- MacRieve: Uilleam MacRieve, Lykae and one half of the Hot and Hotter twins, after his escape from the Order's island is reliving his torture at the hands of the Order's scientists and still haunted by his molestation by a succubus as a child, which led to the deaths of his parents and unborn sister. He goes to an auction and steals Chloe Webb, daughter of the man responsible for his torture, because she's his mate. And, as it turns out, also part succubus. Can he get past his trauma and begin a new life with one of his enemy?
- Dark Skye: The story of Melanthe, Sorceri Queen of Persuasion, and Thronos, a Vrekener whose father was killed by Lanthe's sister, Sabine, the same day Lanthe tried to kill Thronos and crippled him for life.
And the short stories The Warlord Wants Forever
(from the anthology Playing Easy to Get
) which is chronologically the first story, and Untouchable
(from Deep Kiss of Winter
), which finishes off the Wroth brothers and runs concurrently with everything from the first chapter of The Warlord Wants Forever
through to about the end of Pleasure of a Dark Prince
- Shadow's Claim: Trehan, vampire prince of shadows and master assassin, finds his Bride, Bettina. The catch: she's already in love with his current target, a playboy demon, Caspion. Further complicating matters, Bettina is offered up as the prize in a to-the-death competition. Can Trehan win her hand and her heart? First he has to survive his competitors. Takes place between Lothaire and MacRieve.
In fact, Cole likes overlapping her books so the fifteen books take place over a very short period of time, so you hear about things that happen in the book previous or get hints about what is coming up in the next one, or see the same scene from different points of view (like the "f-ing monster mash" that was done from Annika's POV in A Hunger Like No Other
and then from Lucia's POV in Pleasure of a Dark Prince
). The stories' beginning may be mixed chronologically (even if prologues are not factored in), but the endings are in chronological order. As of Pleasure of a Dark Prince, only a year has passed.
Major groups in the Lore include:
- The Valkyrie — Valkyrie have three parents, a mother (who can be human or of one of many factions of the Lore), and the gods Woden and Freya. When a maiden warrior screams in defiance and courage as she dies in battle, the gods strike her with lightning, rescuing her to Valhalla. She is healed (and, if human, still mortal) but pregnant with an immortal Valkyrie daughter. The Valkyrie revere three things: fate, fighting, and shopping. If the series overall has a lead character, it is Nix — often known as Nucking Futs Nix — the oldest Valkyrie, who is three thousand years old and sees the future more clearly than the past or present, to the detriment of her sanity. The Valkyrie have immortality, superstrength, superspeed, claws, small fangs, and shrieks that can shatter glass. They are acquisitive, loving precious things to the point that they can be mesmerized by jewels. They are arrogant, looking down on other races with blind prejudice, and are the only species in the Lore who can die of sorrow.
- Vampires — 90% of the Lore feels that there are two kinds of vampires: dead ones, and should-be-dead ones. Pretty much no race is as universally hated as vampires. But within the vampire race, there is a splinter group called the "Forbearers" who are almost all turned humans rather than born vampires, with the exception of their king, Kristoff, who stalks human battlefields seeking brave warriors with mortal wounds to offer immortality to. They abstain or "forbear" from drinking from living creatures. They fight the main vampire faction, the Horde, who kill as they drink and descend into madness doing it, while their eyes turn redder the madder they get. In the first scene of the series, Myst watches the Forbearers win their first great victory and capture Mount Oblak, a major Horde stronghold, and make it their capital.
- Lykae — Scottish werewolves. More human-like than a lot of the Lore (they eat food, among other things) and considered little more than noisy, smelly beasts by a lot of other Lore species (they are not wrong about the noise).
- House of Witches — Mystical mercenaries that sell their spells. A lot of the Lore resent that they never do anything without reference to the almighty dollar, but, as one of the witches puts it, they learned long ago that witches that lived in nice houses and had the ear of the king got BURNED TO DEATH a lot less often. Witches are born, not made, and are immortal.
- Demons — Catch-all term for numerous races with strength, speed, immortality and horns. In Dark Skye, it is suggested that they were descended from humans who adapted to life in the highly dangerous demonic realms by developing accelerated healing and other powers until they became immortal. Some demons ally with the Horde and are enemies of most of the rest of the Lore, while others ally with factions like the Valkyrie and the Noble Fey, and fight the Horde.
For a romance series, the books can get very violent but also very funny as some of the characters are smartasses and some others are flat-out insane. Crowning Moments of Funny are scattered throughout the books along with Nightmare Fuel - compare the line "Two things that can never be contained? Velociraptors and zombies."
to Furie's fate, trapped beneath the ocean to drown, revive, and drown again throughout eternity (or until her sisters free her. Still, the series is fairly lighthearted. Lampshades are hung with wild abandon off of every conceivable surface, and a few inconceivable ones.
The heroines are especially notable for not letting their mates get away with things that would normally slide in a romance novel and averting the regular romance heroine stereotypes — some of them really got around before settling down and some of them are morally ambiguous, even after mating and/or allying with the Vertas.
Now has a Character
Tropes used in the series:
- Age Without Youth: Elliana was born of an immortal and a human. The result is that she's several centuries old and looks it.
- All There in the Manual: There's a large glossary of characters and the species on KC's website.
- All Myths Are True: Or, "all myths are an example of an immortal screwing up."
- Anti-Villain/ Villain Protagonist: YMMV as to exactly where they fall, but Sabine and Lothaire are definitely somewhere along this spectrum. The Queen of Evil, whose primary power is to control anyone evil, can control Lothaire. Make of that what you will.
- Author Appeal: The male leads, without fail, are at least two meters tall, musclebound, very well-hung, have sexy foreign accents, and are domineering alpha male types. The female leads are no more than average height and usually are shorter, with generous breasts and curly hair, the latter of which was last considered the gold standard in the late 80s or early 90s.
- Babies Ever After: Upheld and averted; at the end of Untouchable, Myst is serving herself food (since Valkyrie don't get pregnant unless they "eat of the earth") and saying she feels bad for her (2,000-year-old) biological clock, while her half-sister Kaderin shrugs and says she has "shite to do and no mercy for clocks".
- Also enforced for Holly, as the Vessel she was supposed to have a warrior for either good or evil, depending on which way the father leaned. Except she's having twins
- Badass Family: The Valkyrie (they're all related, since they share two - out of their three - parents), the Wroth brothers, the Woede brothers.
- Battle Couple: Basically all of them. Even the heroines who start out weak, like Emma and Holly, all Take A Level In Badass
- Bigger Is Better in Bed: Every one of the male protagonists is said to be extraordinarily well hung. Even experienced female protagonists will note that their opposite number is the biggest she's ever had, and coincidentally, he winds up being her perfect mate.
- The Big Easy: Many of the books take place wholly or in part in New Orleans, since a good chunk of our heroines belong to either the Valkyrie coven or the Witches coven there. And even if you don't live there, you're likely to drop by to get Nix's take on something.
- Brains and Bondage: a definite case of Author Appeal, almost all of Cole's heros and heroines are smart enough to converse about complicated scientific concepts and do it while chained to a bed. Their intelligence is helped by most of them being Really 700 Years Old.
- Brother-Sister Incest: Omort and who knows how many of his hundreds of half-sisters. In the book in which he appears, his concubine is his half-sister Hettiah, who he's boinking mostly because he wants to be boinking another half-sister, Sabine, who Hettiah kind of looks like.
- Buried Alive: This is the fate of Furie, Queen of the Valkyrie. To be precise, she is chained to the bottom of the ocean, and she continues drowning and coming back to life (being an immortal) and making this a case of And I Must Scream. In A Hunger Like No Other, Demestriu tells Emma that he doesn't know where Furie is, and that Lothaire is the one who "took care of it". However, in Dreams Of A Dark Warrior, Lothaire claims he doesn't know where Furie is, which is because he dropped her in an unstable area where things move around a lot. Lanthe finally discovers Furie's location in Dark Skye, although as of this writing she hasn't been rescued.
- Lothaire was a more literal example; he was buried in the Bloodroot Forest, where the tree roots burrowed through his flesh over time, for six centuries.
- Card-Carrying Villain: Those who are evil uniformly refer to themselves as evil. There is even a Queen of Evil, a sorceress whose power is to control evil beings.
- Covert Pervert: Neomi, during her years as a ghost that no one could see. Of course, as soon as someone (Conrad) can see her, she jumps straight back into her normal Good Bad Girl self.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Lots of characters. It would be quicker to list who DOESN'T have a troubled past.
- Divine Parentage: a Valkyrie is born when a female warrior's scream as she dies in battle catches the attention of the gods Freya and Wòden, who decide they want to "take her courage and preserve it for eternity because it was so precious." The warrior wakes up healed, but still mortal, and soon gives birth to an immortal daughter, who will possess "her courage, Wóden’s wily brilliance, and Freya’s mirth and impossible beauty". You can read the short story on the author's website here.
- Eating Optional: All races eat as children, but some lose the need once they become fully immortal adults. Vampires, succubae/incubi, and Valkyries eat blood, sex, and electricity, respectively. Females of these races need to eat normal food to get pregnant, though.
- Eternal Love: all the couples in the books. After all, it IS called Immortals After Dark. Also, many of the races have "fated mates" of one kind or another that are irresistibly drawn to each other. As Lachlain puts it, "Marriage isn't as serious. Marriage can end."
- Funetik Aksent: for some reason characters with Scottish or Irish accents have these, almost to an annoying degree. Rydstrom and Cadeon's South African accents and Neomi's French accent aren't treated this way (unless the Valkyrie are mocking them).
- From a Certain Point of View: Cade to Holly trying to convince her to be with him instead of her boyfriend.
: You’re not the good girl you used to be. You get drunk and carouse with demons, sitting on their laps and giving them horn jobs in front of an audience. You went rock star on this poor mom-and-pop motel room. And just last night, you got me to show you my goods, though I was vulnerable and weak
from a bullet wound.
Cade: Face it, Holly, you’re a bad girl.
- Fur Against Fang: The Lykae and vampires were this; now an uneasy truce has been made between the Lykae and Forbearers, mostly because they're in-laws.
- Genre Savvy: Witches and vampires buy good PR so that they are seen as sexy myths. Werewolves scorn PR, and they get movies like The Beast Must Die.
- Heel–Face Revolving Door: Lothaire, to the point where blindly trusting him is a form of Genre Blindness.
Random demon: "Lothaire betrayed us! Again.''
- Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: also possibly Author Appeal as all of the couples fit this trope.
- I Hate You, Vampire Dad: Emma, who ends up killing Demestriu.
- Immortality Begins at 20: All the immortals who are born to their immortality are this, aging regularly into adulthood and "freezing" into their immortality when they are at the age best suited for survival. Tends to be mid-twenties for women and early to late-thirties for men. Before "freezing" wounds will scar, limb loss is permanent and people are generally as fragile as a human. One exception to the permanent damage rule is succubae, who at least lose their scars on becoming immortal, and possibly regenerate limbs. This is because they trade on their looks, and it's to their benefit to be physically flawless. It is unclear what happens if a human child is turned into an immortal species; the question comes up when Nikolai and Sebastian discuss Nikolai's attempt to turn their young, dying sisters.
- Also averted with the Berserkers, who are mortals that are considered a part of the immortal world, they can gain ohalla and become immortal if they win a number of battles wearing Odin's mark.
- Love Redeems: Rydstrom believes this - whether this actually works on Sabine is debatable. Lothaire and Ellie seem to be a strange subversion - Ellie's love brings Lothaire back from the edge of madness, but he's definitely still evil, as proved by La Dorada's ability to control him. Until La Dorada bade him to harm his Bride. Love conquers all: That command broke her hold on him. On the other hand, since Ellie will dream memories harvested from his blood, Lothaire makes a tall effort not to do anything she won't like dreaming about later.
- Mad Oracle: Nix.
- Mayfly-December Romance: in Dark Needs at Night's Edge, Conrad/Neomi are this after she becomes human or so they think; it's also part of the reason Cade tried to stay away from Holly for so long in Dark Desires After Dusk before finding out she was half-Valkyrie.
- May–December Romance: Almost all of the stories (except Garreth and Lucia, 900 and 1000, respectively) have this to some degree. Interestingly, the women play the 'December' part almost as often as the men.
- Mile-High Club: Sebastian and Kaderin, almost. They nearly crash the plane on account of Kaderin producing lightning.
- Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Of the trailing names variety. Let's see, there's Lothaire, the Enemy of Old; La Dorada, the Sorceri Queen of Gold and Evil (especially impressive since a Sorceri Queen is the magic user with the strongest talents in their field); Cadeon the Kingmaker (a mercenary); Kaderin the Coldhearted (an assassin); Omort the Deathless; Nix, the Ever-knowing, the Proto-Valkyrie and Soothsayer without Equal.
- Nerds Are Virgins: Holly the math nerd fits, though she's a virgin because she fears losing control rather than because of her nerdiness. Averted with Emma, Conrad, Sabine (if you consider someone who's had lots of oral sex and no intercourse a virgin), Daniela, Lucia, Malkom, Ellie, Bettina, Chloe, and Thronos.
- No Periods, Period: Races like the Valkyrie that do not need to eat never have a period; they need to eat "normally" for at least six weeks or so before they can get pregnant (and continue eating through the pregnancy).
- Not So Different: Ellie and Lothaire - his 'predictions' and her 'empathy' and Lothaire and Nix with their endgames.
- Opposites Attract: Most of the couples, because of the different species. Especially Valkyrie-Vampire, Valkyrie-Lykae, Demon-Sorceri, and Lykae-Witch.
- Also Author Appeal, as Cole likes the drama involved in different cultures clashing.
- Older Than They Look: Pretty much a given when some of the characters are thousands of years old. Nix takes the cake, though — three thousand years old and looks about 20 or so.
- Averted with Elianna, who wears a Glamour to hide the fact she looks her age.
- Our Monsters Are Different
- Our Angels Are Different: the Vrekener are a demonarchy, actually, but they look like angels.
- Our Demons Are Different: there are many, many demonarchies and each is its own 'race' of demons with their own culture and home plane of existence. Some demonarchies mentioned in the books so far: rage demons (like Cadeon and Rydstrom), smoke demons, pathos demons, storm demons, fire demons, and the Vrekener.
- Our Ghosts Are Different: Dead, lingering human spirits are ghosts: they have limited telekinetic power, need rest to recharge, and are bound to one location. Phantoms are true beings of the Lore with unbelievable amounts of power, the ability to teleport anywhere, and are capable of taking a on a physical form; they're described as shape-shifters who shift between living and spectral. They're extremely hard to kill in battle, as they can simply revert to their incorporeal form, in which they're immune to harm, and don't need to take physical form to hurt their enemies thanks to their telekinesis.
- Our Werewolves Are Different - the Lykae transform but it's not a fully physical transformation; instead, they transform partially and the image of their beast overlaps the Lykae in question. A shifted Lykae is physically the strongest being in the Lore.
- Our Vampires Are Different - there are two factions: the Horde, which drinks blood from the vein and kills its victims, and the Forbearers, who are sworn never to drink blood from the vein (except from their Brides). Guess which are the good guys. Also, they're dead - they don't breathe, their hearts don't beat, and they can't, you know, until they meet their Brides, their fated mates, at which point bodily functions return to them. They gain memories from blood they drink directly from the vein - between a vampire and his Bride, it's a form of intimacy; between one of the Horde and their prey it's Mind Rape and too many of these memories will drive a vampire mad. Halfway through the series, a third faction of Vampires is introduced. Known as the Dacians, they live in an enormous underground kingdom equipped with Blood fountains, a mist that they can teleport in and out of, and a complex political society. Like the Forbearers, they abstain from drinking from the flesh.
- Our Zombies Are Different - there are revenants, zombies controlled remotely by Sorceri; ghouls, mindless and infectious zombies that seem to travel in packs (the stereotypical zombies); and the Wendigo, swift, cunning, cruel, and extremely infectious undead who even the Loreans tend to be wary of. Lothaire discovered the Wendigo's weakness, salt, and reveals that it can temporarily blind Wendigos and be used on Wendigo bites/scratches to prevent the infection from taking hold.
- Pair the Spares: Averted, with Nat and Brandr in Dreams of a Dark Warrior.
- Pointed Ears: Most of the fey, the nymphs and the Valkyrie have pointed ears
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: Vampires who drink blood directly from the vein to the deaths of their victims have red eyes. They turn black with strong emotion.
- Reincarnation Romance - the premise of Dreams Of A Dark Warrior, with a slight twist: the only one who keeps getting reincarnated is Aidan, since Regin is immortal. And each time he remembers his past lives, he dies. And in Wicked Deeds on a Winter's Night, Bowen thinks the reason he's attracted to Mariketa is because she's his dead mate Mariah's reincarnation. It turns out she's not; Mariah was never his true mate to begin with.
- Red String of Fate: Most species have some kind of destined mate.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something In the epilogue of Kiss Of A Demon King, Sabine and Rydstrom are this; they are trying to "ease [the kingdom] out of medieval times", which includes, for example, building new roads.
- Running Gag: Nix's crush; see below.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: La Dorada.
- Sherlock Scan: Ellie has a degree in psychology and she knows how to use it.
- Spinoff: The Dacians - Realm of Blood and Mist. Set in the same world but featuring Lothaire's Dacian cousins.
- Stalker with a Crush - Nix is this for Mike Rowe. He contacts her under the pretext of his lawyers filing a 'request' that she leave him alone - AKA, a restraining order. He apparently gives in to her, but she deliberately forgets the phone number he gave her, because "I remembered I'm a rake." Also, in a not-played-for-laughs, protective way, Cadeon for Holly, mostly because she was human and therefore off limits when he met her.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: Lothaire claims he doesn't know where Furie is. Well, ocean waves and tectonic shifts make it hard to predict where she is NOW, but he sure knows where he dropped her INTO the ocean...assuming he didn't forget. Granted, this is a big assumption, as his memory tends to be akin to Swiss cheese.
- Technicolor Eyes: If the eyes aren't already vivid in some way, then strong emotion is sure to turn them a species-specific color that serves as an "Uh-Oh" Eyes warning.
- Trickster Mentor: Nix to most of the other characters; Regin to Emma.
- Took a Level in Badass: Holly; Emma when she kills the king of the Horde vampires, earning the name Emma the Unlikely ; also Neomi when she becomes a Phantom. This also happens to any vampire male who is blooded, his reawakened body suddenly gaining a large increase in strength.
- Vain Sorceress: All of the Sorceri, apparently, as they all wear elaborate headdresses and metal - usually gold - armor/clothes. Sabine is noted as being especially vain, though, even for a Sorceri... so she's essentially this trope, magnified.
- Villainous Incest: Omort wanted the Brother-Sister Incest version of this with Sabine, who was very obviously squicked out. Omort did make it with many of his numerous half-sisters.
- Waif-Fu: Namechecked specifically by Nix; the Valkyrie in general are small and delicate-looking, but can hand the asses of much larger creatures back to them.
- Warrior Prince: Cade is a mercenary warrior, called the Kingmaker, and also a prince, being the younger brother of Rydstorm, the Demon King. Also Garreth, younger brother of Lachlain, king of the Lykae.
- Webcomic Time: The series has been published for 6 years and the actual event take place over a year and a bit.
- Writers Cannot Do Math: Nix states that she is three thousand and three years old. Lothaire is said to be three thousand himself. Yet it is said that "an age" passed before the first of Nix's younger sisters was born, and Lothaire encountered an entire group of them as a child.
- Who Wants to Live Forever?: Holly initially, when she wants to stay a mortal. Everyone else seems to enjoy their immortality, although it occasionally gets lonesome without a mate.