Vampire Thursdays: Not Your Daddy’s Greek Gods: An Overview of the Dark-Hunter series

vampirethursdays

By R.C. Murphy

dark_hunter1If it has fangs, then obviously, it’s a regular ol’ vampire, another Nosferatu knockoff taking advantage of people with a lust for the dark.

Let’s not be so hasty to judge a creature by its hardware.

Throughout the history of the vampire myth, there have been countless versions of the bloodsuckers. One variety talks with a funny, pseudo-Romanian accent and transforms into bats. Others band together to form a theatre troupe so as to confuse and entertain the humans they feed on. Heck, a new breed of vampires even sparkles and skips around in the sun.

With each vampire tale told, storytellers or authors put a little of themselves into their creatures. The possibilities for vampires are infinite given the boundless ideas contained inside some of the best creative minds out there.

Case in point: Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark-Hunter series. In this 19-book (and counting) series, Kenyon delves deep into what makes vampires tick. Her creatures go through trials that would make Dracula weep blood-tears. Kenyon guides readers through the complex mythos created for the universe her vampires play in. The series is centered on an alternate version of the Greek pantheon. One where the gods are as flawed as those that worship them.

dark_hunter2There are a few classes of vampires in the Dark-Hunter universe. The most notable are the Dark-Hunters themselves. These are immortal warriors sworn to track down and kill other vampires. There is a small catch. The hunters are the ones that are undead, not their prey. In order to obtain immortality, each Dark-Hunter has to suffer. We’re not talking a bad paper cut, either. Their suffering has to be so horrific that their soul cries out for vengeance. When Artemis, patron goddess of the Dark-Hunters, hears their anguish, she rushes down to bargain with the newly dead. Standard deal is one soul in exchange for 24 hours to punish those who wronged them. After their blood-soaked rampage is finished, Artemis rips their soul out, thus turning them into one of her Hunters. The soul becomes a shiny amulet that no human can handle and joins thousands of others to sit in the goddess’ temple. She may even use them to decorate her throne room. Who knows?

Vampires hunting vampires – makes sense. The Hunters are gifted with the same qualities as those they seek. They have power to keep humans from realizing that gods, vampires, and even shapeshifters exist. Perks include heightened senses, physical prowess; some Hunters develop secondary psychic powers such as telekinesis or foresight. As with traditional vampires, they cannot go into the sun. Dark-Hunters do not drink blood to survive, even though they have fangs.

Vampire hunters have to have something to hunt. That is where the Daimons come in. What exactly are Daimons?

“They’re vampires on steroids with a God complex.” (Night Pleasures, 2002)

dark_hunter4Daimons didn’t start life as soul-sucking vampires. At some point, back when Atlantis wasn’t on the ocean floor, Daimons were Apollites: a race of humanoid beings created by Apollo to prove to Zeus that he could create a better species of worshipers. They were highly intelligent, psychically gifted, and just as bloodthirsty as the god that created them.

Zeus, jealous and worried for his far-more-fragile humans, banished Apollo’s creation from his domain. The Atlanteans took them in, bred with them. Inevitably creating a stronger breed of Apollite.

Apollites had it made on Atlantis. Until an Apollite hunting party, sent by the spurned Atlantean queen, sought out Apollo’s son and newest mistress. As soon as he heard of their deaths, Apollo cursed the species he created. Apollites became animalistic, forced to feed on each other’s blood every few days to survive. Apollo’s creations were banned from entering the sun, their angry god’s domain. They aged rapidly, married young, and never survived after their 27th birthday. On that day, they slowly decay and are turned to a pile of dust as the sun rises.

The curse can be delayed, of course. Enter the Daimons. If an Apollite ingests the soul of a human before their 27th birthday, that soul will sustain them for a while and they become a Daimon. However, human souls are fragile things, forcing Daimons to constantly hunt. Pregnant women are a special treat. A two-for-one deal, if you will. Dark-Hunters protect the delicious souls humans hold. It was the least Artemis could do. Apollo is her brother, after all. Siblings are always cleaning up after each others’ messes.

Speaking of the twisted twosome, they very much adhere to the ancient Greek idea that siblings get a little touchy-feely at times. Much to a modern person’s displeasure. In Kenyon’s series, even the gods get in on the blood-sucking fun. Artemis and Apollo feed from each other. Forget ambrosia; nibble on your sister’s neck, dude. Sounds great, right? Eww.

The gods feed on blood, so the creatures they created do, as well. Apollites were created from Apollo’s flesh and blood. However, Artemis doesn’t use a blood conversion to create her Dark-Hunters. She takes the soul, creating a soulless vampire that hunts another species of vampires. That doesn’t mean that she refrains from swapping blood with someone other than her brother. The first Dark-Hunter, Acheron Parthenopaeus, is a special case. He has an arrangement with Artemis that the other Hunters never hear about, but it is there, keeping them safe from her temper. The deal ensures she takes proper care of her army. Provides humans to attend to daytime needs and gives a substantial payment to cover the cost of housing, weapons, and body bags, in case they are caught out when the sun rises.

Who knew body bags were a vampire’s best defense against Apollo’s wrath?

dark_hunter3Kenyon manages to make vampires interesting, witty and modern. She weaves an incredible history for her Dark-Hunter series that keeps fans coming back for more in hopes of sorting out the mysteries behind her vampires. The tapestry of gods, deaths, lovers, blood, everything she’s created makes for a vampire tale readers have no problem sinking fang into.

A complete list of Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark-Hunter series can be found on her website.

Bio: Living in a madhouse gives a writer a lot of inspiration. Okay, R.C. Murphy doesn’t actually live in an asylum. It only feels that way on days that end with a “Y”. She spends most of her time talking to vampires and demons. When they answer back, it is nothing to worry about. Unless you are her psychologist. Samples of R.C. Murphy’s stories can be found at: http://rcmurphy.wordpress.com/ Or follow her on Twitter: @RCMurphy.