Life's hard. Wear a fucking cup.
Shannon K Butcher
Sentinel Wars, book six
ebook, 400 pages
Published March 6th 2012 by Penguin Group
Jackie Patton has been rescued by the Theronai from her captivity and torture at the hands of the Synestryn, only to learn that she's a potential match for the Theronai warriors who need a woman to literally save their lives.
Forced to choose, she unexpectedly selects Iain, a cold-hearted warrior who doesn't want to be saved. Iain is convinced that it's too late-that his soul is already as dead as his former betrothed, killed by the Synestryn. Still, he is the only one she wants. But is Iain indeed beyond saving?
Iain lost the last of his leaves some time ago. Soulless, with no hope of salvation, he fights on in order to give what help he can to those of his brothers also nearing the end of their time. Having collected ancient artifacts bearing the power to slow the process of the their withering lifemarks, Iain has forged what he calls the Band of the Barren. Madoc was one such member until Nika saved him. The newest of them is Cain.
Having survived two years of being a prisoner and food source to demons, Jackie was rescued by the Theronia warriors as they quested to liberate Nika and Andra's baby sister Tori. All she wants is the life that was taken from her. Her job. Her independence. Alas, Jackie finds that can she never again be the human she never actually was in the first place. She is a Theronai. Destined to mate one of her people's warriors and wield magic she never before dreamed of.
It's a destiny she will risk her life to avoid.
As it becomes clear that Jackie is compatible with every single Theronai warrior she comes into contact with, Joseph presses her to choose one to save. Holding her hostage until she does. Desperate, Jackie manages a bargain: She'll choose a man if he'll let her go.
So the men assemble, filling the auditorium and lining up one by one to swear their lives to her. Their touch pains her. Their hope-filled eyes guilt her. In the end she decides on the one person whose touch has silenced the horrors since he freed her from her prison. A man who can't be, nor wants to be saved. Iain.
Meanwhile, Torr is in agony over Grace's sacrifice to trade her life for his. He evens dares to threaten Jackie to choose him so they might be strong enough to save the woman he loves. A woman who is very much human and, therefore, doesn't have the power to save him by taking his luceria and wielding his harnessed power. I am beside myself with how all that is going to play out.
Tori, traumatized child that she is, continues her fantasies of finding and destroying, Zillah, the demon responsible for her ten year spanning torture and rape. She even goes as far as hoarding weapons and trying to steal Andra's car. Gets herself caught by Nicholas in the process and shoves a knife into his chest. The guy gets off a few wise cracks, feels a moment of hope when he realizes she's compatible with him, then rejects the idea and leaves her to Andra to be dealt with. At this point, I don't know when Tori's story will come but I do want her to end up with Nicholas. Guy's had it rough, and I'm beyond tickled that those two are a possible match.
Hope continues to remember her life from before coming to this world and has ideas that making contact with her old people, through the stone that served as a portal to bring her here, will bring a chance at saving Grace's life. Which, it does. A healer named Brenya comes through and when she departs, she takes both Grace and Tori with her. Leaving behind Madoc and Andra, both sworn to her as her champions.
It was bound to happen. When Gilda died, her daughters, Sybil and Maura, were released from their vow to never grow up. While neither are present in this book, it only stands that Gilda's power to sterilize the Theronai men would fail as well. And it did. Nika's pregnant! Madoc, our beloved hooker-addict's gonna be a daddy!
I saw it coming, Dreaded it. Hoped to hell that it wouldn't be so predictable as to happen. But it did. Serena, Iain's long lost love, returns. Having disappeared one night during a demon attack, Serena has spent the last two hundred years in a stasis prison by her own mother's hand. Being with Iain was like yesterday to her, and she's devastated and irate when she discovers him bonded to someone else.
As much as I hated such a cliche turn, it played out so well that I couldn't find it in me to be upset about it. Here, these two people, forced into a bond that neither wanted, finally had to fight to stay together. With Serena being Iain's match, he could go to her, freeing up Jackie to save another Theronai. Meanwhile, Iain felt nothing of what he once did for Serena and resigns himself to death after Serena reveals his barren lifemark.
Joseph's such a respectable, callous bitch. And damn, if Jackie isn't the one woman to stand up to his bullshit. She was throwing Iain's power all over the place. Joseph. Drake. Helen. And finally we figure out why it is that she's capable of bonding to any of the men. She's holds a connection to other Theronai females.
And, although it takes eighty percent of the book to get there, we finally get Lyka back in Joseph's picture and find out the real reason she was chosen as a hostage from the Slayers. Girl's half Theronai.
I wasn't drawn to Iain. Not like Zach or Logan. So imagine my surprise as it began to dawn on me how much I was loving this story. It's easily the best of the first six books, and I daresay my favorite. The ending is a little stretched, but being the crazy chaotic world it is, it kinda worked.
But seriously... Stan?!
5 out of 5 stars.
BTW, Iain's going to be a daddy, too!
Previously in the series: