Favorite Quote: “Pirate drama. They could get into more shite than anyone he’d ever known.”
Reviewed by Tori
Deadmen tell their tales . . .
To catch evil, it takes evil. Enter Devyl Bane―an ancient dark warlord returned to the human realm as one of the most notorious pirates in the New World. A man of many secrets, Bane makes a pact with Thorn―an immortal charged with securing the worst creations the ancient gods ever released into our world. Those powers have been imprisoned for eons behind enchanted gates . . . gates that are beginning to buckle. At Thorn’s behest, Bane takes command of a crew of Deadmen and, together, they are humanity’s last hope to restore the gates and return the damned to their hell realms.
But things are never so simple. And one of Bane’s biggest problems is the ship they sail upon. For the Sea Witch isn’t just a vessel, she’s also a woman born of an ancient people he wronged and who in turn wronged him during a centuries long war between their two races―a woman who is also sister to their primary target. Now Marcelina, the Sea Witch, must choose. Either she remains loyal to her evil sister and almost extinct race against Bane and his cause, and watches humanity fall, or she puts faith in an enemy who has already betrayed her. Her people over the totality of humanity―let’s hope Bane can sway her favor. (Goodreads)
Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunter series is one of the best-selling paranormal romance series to date. Appealing to readers of all ages Ms. Kenyon’s unique twist on vampires, Greek mythology, and religion combines fantasy with paranormal romance to create a genre all its own. Ms. Kenyon has enthralled us since her first book, Fantasy Lover. Now over 30 books in, Kenyon expands her world once again, taking us into the past and introducing us to the original Hellchasers with Deadmen Walking.
Deadmen Walking is the first in a historical fantasy trilogy set in the same world as the Dark Hunters. Kenyon uses a plethora of mythologies, along with various religions, reincarnation, magic, revenge, and an enemies to lovers romance to bring to life her pirates, monsters, and high sea adventure for her readers. Fans of Pirates of the Caribbean and Black Sails will see some strong similarities as we are introduced to a sea captain and his deadly crew who must save the world. Set in 1700s Captain Deyvl Bane is a former warlord/druid who marched across the plains spilling blood and leaving carnage in his wake. With the magical ability to reincarnate (so to speak), his lifespan dates back centuries. Think Vikings, Asgard, Norseman. Eventually murdered by his ex-wife and sent to Hell, he is given the opportunity to escape by the infamous Thorn with an invitation to join his Hellchasers. Bane and his crew now sail the seven seas fighting all manner of evil in an attempt to redeem themselves and free their souls.
“There’s something not right about the lot of you.”
“There’s something not right about the lot of the world, mate. We just embrace our natural differences with gusto.”
Though this is the start of a new story arc and introduces a new character base, this cannot be read as a standalone. Seriously, this is not the place to introduce yourself to this world. Hell, this world is now the size of a small galaxy and we have officially left Earth. We see character and situational cross over from the Dark Hunters series all the way to the Chronicles of Nick with references to previous scenes and storylines. I’m a seasoned veteran of this world who has read every single book and I was confused at times. Also, there are some big spoilers in here.
Those who are familiar with SLK will recognize this basic characterization trope she uses in a majority of her stories. An abused and misunderstood character is betrayed by the one person they trusted to never harm them and in return, they isolate themselves into a grumpy “I hate you all and want to kill you all” shell to protect them from being betrayed ever again. They will then be forced to save the lives of those around them including those who may have betrayed them and there is a 99% chance self-sacrifice will be involved. And they’ll do it because, all in all, despite all their bluster and posturing, they just want to be loved.
“Thieves, drunkards, lunatics, wastrels, and whores we might all be, but there ain’t a coward among us.”
Captain Bane is this story’s grumpy hero who was betrayed first by his parents, then by his allies, and eventually by the woman he loved. The kicker here though is Bane is no saint and is equally guilty of the crimes committed against him. He and his crew, a personable and rambunctious bunch, are on a mission to rescue a fellow sea captain before he’s used to open a gate of Hell and release Bane’s demonic ex-wife, Vine. He needs the help of the Sea Witch who hates him. His ship is an actual living being, Marcelina (Mara) aka the Sea Witch, who has long and bloody history with Bane.
“We are the protectors-”
“My ass cheeks.”
“Du, please watch your language!”
“Watch your lies! Are you really going to stand there and preach that as if I wasn’t there?
Marcelina grimaced at him. “And what of yours? How many fell to your race and army? Need I remind you how we met?
“Need I remind you how we parted? Blood soaks us both!”
I liked though I didn’t love. It has a nice pace to it along with an engaging main storyline. The action, intrigue, and humor blends well with the mild romance. I’m a sucker for pirates and have long been fascinated by the men and women who sailed the high seas looking for adventure and treasure. My main problem is there is too much going on and Kenyon notes everything single little detail. We see a mixture of multiple religions, legends, and mythologies used to try to explain the protagonists’ backgrounds and how they tie into the main arc. My eyes glazed over once I realized the hero had three other names he went by depending on which timeline we were speaking of. There is a lot of world building that is based on these characters’ history and it slows the story down. We are also led to believe the heroine is Cameron Jack only to discover she’s actually just meant to establish the storyline and help push the real heroine (Mara) and Bane together. *shaking my head to clear it* Kenyon with her skill and finesse almost makes it work too but misses the mark.
The romance is hot, sweet, and oh so slow going as this couple has centuries of lies and anger to work through. The romance is really no more than an element in here. Bane, in the past, decimated Mara’s clan and kidnapped her and her sister. Mara watched her brethren fall one by one and in retaliation bound Bane’s life to hers. As Bane and Mara work together, Mara finally understands the anger that drove Bane back then and how wrong she was in her thinking. Bane also has his own epiphany and acknowledges the damage he did to Mara.
He couldn’t imagine his life without her in it.
The main plot and subsequent subplots are pretty intense as Kenyon brings in various familiar faces, closes some open-ended plotlines, and answers some almost forgotten questions. We learn the battle lines have been long in the making and we are slowly learning who will stand with who…and on what side.
”You do not escape here. You do not escape me.”
“You wanted war? By all means, have some!”
The ending is a dramatic affair and a bit of a shock as Kenyon dumps yet more characters and information on us. I was overwhelmed. So many groups have a hand in what is coming and unlike Kenyon’s earlier books, we aren’t being given the time to absorb all the new information and characters. It’s tossed at us and then Kenyon whisks us away to another part of this huge galaxy for more information and world building. I will admit one particular scene broke my heart a little. All I can say is Thorn better find a way to keep his promise to Cameron and Kalder. Even with the issues I had, it was still a fun read. Pirates, sea monsters, and good old fashioned sword fights are enough to make this old girl happy. Will I read the next in the trilogy? Yes, because I MUST KNOW WHAT HAPPENS TO KALDER!! But I’ll be getting it from the library. I hope Kenyon settles down soon because for some reason she is really making this world almost too complicated to follow anymore.