The Trouble With Demons (Raine Benares #3)
April 28, 2009
My name is Raine Benares. I’m a seeker. People hire me when they need something found. I’m not usually the one being sought. But that all changed when I found the Saghred, a soul-stealing stone of unlimited power — and the bane of my existence. Now mages and madmen have me in their sights, not to mention demons…
An opened Hellgate leads to a demon infestation on the Isle of Mid, and while there’s never an ideal time to face down demon hordes, it’s hard to imagine a worse one. Already fighting the influence of the Saghred, Raine discovers she is also magically bonded to a dark mage and a white knight, two dangerous and powerful men on opposing sides — and Raine’s stuck in the middle.
But with demons pouring through the Hellgate, Raine can’t afford to be distracted. Turns out, the demons want the key to unlock the Saghred. As a seeker, Raine should be able to find it first. As the axis of light and dark powers, she’s a magical cataclysm waiting to happen…
*Possible, slight spoilers for this and past books.
First of all, and this has stuck with me since I first began reading the book a couple of weeks ago, thank you so, so much to authors who give a clear timeline when books get this far into a series. I usually cannot keep track all by my lonesome and rarely do authors put in any kind of a hint as to how much time has passed since book 1. That being said, we’ve only had about two or so weeks pass since Raine was saddled with the Saghred! Holy crapola, talk about perspective. Given that short amount of time, it made Raine’s journey so far seem all that more fraught with danger. I’m also beginning to worry for our resident seeker.
It’s easy for me to forget sometimes as I await each new book that Raine’s life is in much bigger peril than at first thought. It’s because she’s such a lighthearted and amusing heroine in spite of it all. The Trouble with Demons is yet another laughter-inducing romp in Shearin’s masterfully built world of elves, goblins, dark magic and powerful, ancient forces. We obviously pick up right where the other book left off. Raine’s made some pretty steep enemies and also secured the protection and personal admiration of two very enigmatic individuals: Mychael Eiliesor, head of the Conclave Guardians on the Isle of Mid, and Tamnais Nathrach, former goblin dark mage to goblin royalty.
Before we get too far ahead of important matters, like Raine living to see another series day, I have to admit I was pulling hard for a major advancement in the two romantic subplots. While there was a significant advancement, it wasn’t at all what I was expecting (or rather hoping for) and after contemplating it for a few days, I’m rather pleased at how it’s all turned out so far. However, when Raine, Mychael and Tam first combine their powers in a triumvirate, it immediately brought to mind a certain other one involving a slayer and eventually the entire cast of males forever and ever on out, amen. I couldn’t help it – and I dare anyone else who’s been mentally scarred by the latter menage kind of scene to say they aren’t either when trio’s of this nature come about.
That being said, and this is a tiny spoiler, sex isn’t involved in Shearin’s version. Yes, there’s a menage now of sorts between Raine and her two virile men, but thankfully it didn’t go there there. It’s a more magically pure form, a partnership between the three that became necessary to circumvent some of the claim the Saghred was trying to exact over Raine and Tam. It’s a call to action that only a brave elf such as Mychael could pull off, and even though I’m still on Team Tam, Mychael gained my admiration tenfold in this installment for his daring and selfless actions to keep Raine safe. *end tiny spoiler*
Going back to the issue of time, and given the short amount of it since the series began, it’s actually more gratifying that the "romances" between Raine and Mychael, and then Raine and Tam, have progressed as they have. Too, there’s so much action in these books. Raine is barely ever mentioned as getting sleep – and frankly this is where I get a little worried that, should said action not slow down in th future, something bad might happen. To Raine, to someone else, I’m not sure, but surely Raine herself can’t keep up the frantic pace they’ve been on since the Saghred came back online. Considering that the book leaves off with two of her greatest enemies still alive and kicking – and nowhere near ready to quit coming after her – I seriously doubt our favorite elf/seeker will have any down time in the next book either. What kind of romance this will leave us with is one I’m excited to discover, because even though there’s nothing much physical happening, Shearin is a master at vamping up the sensual and heated tension.
Whew, now that the really important stuff is out of the way (you know it is, romance rules), I was worried that I wouldn’t pick back up with this book easily. Shearin did a good job though of recapping what happened in books one and two, though, to make that transition easy for readers. That’s not to say that if you’re new you don’t need to read the first two, far from it. This is a fast-paced, enormously fun series that -trust me – is no chore whatsoever to read from the beginning.
Raine, who I didn’t feel with the last book had quite become a well-developed character yet, grew a lot on me in this installment. She’s always been a good character, but this time she really begins to shine with that sense of satisfaction I like to feel for first person protagonists. Thanks to outside forces and influences, both good and bad, she’s finally beginning to reach out to the other characters and convey to readers all the emotions and development we need from them as well. I have to bring up that issue of time again because I had kind of held a lack of development against her before, whereas now I realize that we’re simply getting what we need to learn about her over a short amount of time. Considering that two week window that we’ve been in with the series, it now makes much more sense to me that she develops as a character like she does. As always, she’s fiercely protective of those she cares for and loves, and she takes the burden of her responsibilities as her own, never allowing them to be foisted onto someone else, not even when that person is out to kill her.
So, again, considering that short time span, and Raine’s subsequent character development, I was really, really pleased with how much deeper we get to know Mychael and Tam, too. It’s so hard, still, to have any clue whatsoever as to who she might end up with romantically. Both men are pretty much equal in intentions, honor and commitment to her. What I also love is that both seem to appreciate her on the same level; as a confident woman capable of kicking some major ass. Both hit the sensual high notes so perfectly, and with the way Mychael ups the ante in their power menage, I’d say it’s no surprise that Raine has trouble sorting out her feelings for these two. There’s an especially poignant scene at the end, when all’s finally settled down, and Raine ruminates on her man troubles with another female character, Sora (a professor of demonology at the college), and we know that something’s just gotta give next time.
It’s our usual cast of secondary characters this go around, all of which Shearin has done a superb job of incorporating before this. Secondary characters are just so essential, equally as important in terms of development and these are no exception. They’re a big part of what makes picking up the next in a series feel like coming home. We get to see Phaelen, Piaras (young friend of family), Vegard (Conclave Guardian/bodguard to Raine) and many others, including Carnades (great name, major ass), who isn’t one of Raine’s admirerers. We’re also unfortunately still saddled with Sarad Nakpana (dark goblin mage soul trapped in the Saghred) and Rurdra Muralin (old-as-hills goblin that wants Saghred), both of whom it seems will stick around to cause more havoc in the next book. As easy as it is to hate theses bad guys, though, Shearin does give us some challenging, well-done ones to read, a huge plus in my book. Still, should be fun to see one of them die a slow painful death one day.
The last secondary character I’ll mention specifically is Raine’s father, Eamaliel Anguis, who has an extremely important role in the book this time. I won’t say any more, as it’s definitely a great twist that readers need to experience first hand.
As I said before, don’t skip books one and two, collect two hundred dollars and go straight ot this book – you will be confused if you do. Even though there’s enough of a recap built into the third book to get by, newbs to the series will appreciate all that comes to pass if they’ve read the reasons before hand. That being said, it only gets better with each book, and I think we all know how rare that is with series these days. Shearin’s skills continue to amaze me, especially plot-wise. I love reading this series, and mostly for that confidence that I’ll be getting a very entertaining read. It’s the kind of series that you want the next one immediately and come away from breathless for the journey that just sucks you right in.
Not a thing wrong with this book. Sign me up for more, indefinitely. This is one series I don’t want to end any time soon.
Rating: Five Scoops
- Magic Lost, Trouble Found
- Armed and Magical
- The Trouble With Demons
- Bewitched and Betrayed (2010)
For more on the author and her work, visit her site.