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Dragonmark (Dark-Hunter Series #20)

Dragonmark (Dark-Hunter Series #20)

2.4 46
by Sherrilyn Kenyon

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Centuries ago, Illarion was betrayed– a dragon made human against his will, then forced to serve humanity as a dragonmount in their army, and to fight for them in barbaric wars, even while he hated everything about them. Enslaved and separated from everyone he knew and from his own dragon brothers, he was forced into exile in a fey realm where he lost the


Centuries ago, Illarion was betrayed– a dragon made human against his will, then forced to serve humanity as a dragonmount in their army, and to fight for them in barbaric wars, even while he hated everything about them. Enslaved and separated from everyone he knew and from his own dragon brothers, he was forced into exile in a fey realm where he lost the only thing he ever really loved.
Now he has a chance to regain what’s been lost— to have the one thing he covets most. But only if he gives up his brothers and forsakes the oaths he holds most dear. Yet what terrifies him most isn’t the cost his happiness might incur, it’s the fact that there is just enough human in his dragon’s heart that he might actually be willing to pay it and betray everything and everyone– to see the entire world burn...

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Kenyon’s Dark-Hunter series continues with this somewhat grim but nonetheless delightful 27th installment. The dragons have been around since before humans kept recorded history. Illarion is one of them. He has lived through being tortured and having his voice stolen by the humans he’s come to hate. He is quite content to live in solitude, venturing only occasionally among humans, until he meets Edilyn, the only person who ever showed him kindness. Their bond is strong and quick to develop, but a betrayal by someone close to Edilyn sets in motion a series of events that may tear them apart. Any installment in a long-running series will be burdened with history and relationships that cannot be condensed into a few pages, and new readers will be lost. However, the well-developed interactions between Edilyn and Illarion add a layer of enjoyment for longtime fans. The story takes an abrupt and rather confusing turn halfway through, but the subsequent action and adventure more than make up for the incongruity. The novel stands on its own merits, but it’s clear this is a transition piece, leading much deeper into the larger plot arc. Agent: Robert Gottlieb, Trident Media Group. (Aug.)
From the Publisher

"[A] publishing phenomenon . . . [Sherrilyn Kenyon is] the reigning queen of the wildly successful paranormal scene . . . Just one example of arguably the most in-demand and prolific authors in America these days." - Publishers Weekly

"Kenyon's writing is brisk, ironic and relentless imaginative. These are not your mother's vampire novels." - Boston Globe

"[An] engaging read." - Entertainment Weekly

Product Details

St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
Dark-Hunter Series
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
9.40(w) x 6.00(h) x 1.30(d)

Read an Excerpt


By Sherrilyn Kenyon

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2016 Sherrilyn Kenyon
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-250-09241-0


St. George's Day, 619

"If you could piss away stupid, I daresay the majority of the candidates today might actually stand a chance against you."

Edilyn ferch Iago bit back a squeak of laughter at Virag's unexpected words. "Shh ... you get me into enough trouble as it is."

Barely the size of her index finger, he looked up at her with a cocked, innocent brow. "Can't help it if the rest of those wankers are too dim-witted to see your ebullience right before them." Walking along the edge of the shoddy, worn sill, he mocked the village voices they could overhear passing by her open window, making faces and rude gestures to go along with their innocuous conversations. It was all she could do to not burst into laughter.

"Stop it, or I shall force you back into your bottle."

He snorted dismissively. "As if that's a threat. I like my bottle. Much better than being out here with all these —" He glanced out the window to the street and wrinkled his nose. "— people." With a fierce shudder, he sat down on the edge to eye her with an expression of even greater distaste. A light breeze fluttered his golden, gossamer wings. "Why are you dressed like that again?"

"St. George's Day."

"Ah." Virag released a long, tired sigh. "This year went fast. So what are your plans for being unacceptable to the dragons this time?"

Biting her lip, she stepped forward and revealed the small vial she'd purchased from the old witch woman who lived on the edge of the forest. She held it out toward him. "'Tis the scent of rotted bear guts."

He let out a fierce sound of protest before he fell back and kerplunked on the sill. "That would do it," he choked between gasps for air. "Yeah. Please ... bathe that off your skin before tonight. My eyes are watering. Burning, too." Crossing his eyes, he stuck his tongue out and feigned a dying pose that left one arm and leg dangling off the edge as he continued to sputter and gasp.

Edilyn laughed at her half brother and his antics. It was hard to take him seriously in his natural state of a gold-skinned, golden-haired and -eyed, winged sprite. Like this, he was ethereally beautiful and a far cry from the terrifying dark-shadow beast she knew he could transform into. "What kind of pixie are you?"

"Not a pixie," he snarled indignantly as he kicked his fur-covered legs at her. "Kikimora! Sheez! Inhaling those fumes has already addled your noggin. Any more and you'll be as daft as those lackwits outside."

She snorted at him. "Like you don't smell worse than that on a regular basis."

He laughed. "Only when I'm drunk on elderberries or mulberries ... or..." He paused to consider the truth of her accusation. "Well, you might have a point." Sitting up, he bent his knee and propped his whiskered chin on it to watch her while she finished belting on her mismatched costume. He was devilishly handsome with his short, spiked hair and angular features. But it was his personality and the way he always looked after her that made her love him best.

Since the day he'd magically appeared in her room three days after the death of her father, she'd been hopelessly devoted to her older brother. There was nothing she wouldn't do for him.

Not that he needed her help, given the depths of his godlike powers. Honestly, she had no idea why he'd come to her or why he stayed. She liked to think that he loved her, but the tales said that his kind were incapable of feeling such things. Immortal nightmare spirits were supposed to be devoid of any tender emotions whatsoever.

Rather, they were self-serving, vain creatures who used human weaknesses to prey on others. To manipulate humans for the gods and higher powers they were enslaved to or had bartered with.

Yet in spite of his random, surly threats, he remained by her side. Ever loyal. Ever caring, and even kind to her.

He was just like their mother, who'd been as full-blooded a kikimora as he was. Only her mother had made a pact and given up her immortal life to become human so that she could marry Edilyn's father.

It was something they never spoke of, as it angered Virag to an unholy level.

"How do I look?" Edilyn turned around and held her arms out to show him her outfit for the day.

He burst into raucous laughter that would have offended her had it not been the reaction she wanted. "Ridiculous."

She grinned as she reached for her horned helm. "Good. That's what I was going for."

He made a sound of utter pain-filled disgust. "What in the name of all Samhain is that on your head?"

"My battle helm."

He screwed his face into a mask of horror. "What are you? A bull?"

"What?" She feigned innocence. "Dragons have horns. I'm trying to blend."

"You're not a dragon." His tone was flat and dry.


He let out another pain-filled groan. "Thank the gods your parents are dead. I shudder at what they'd say if they could see you looking like this."

She stuck her tongue out. "Don't you have an old lady to frighten or torment?"

Virag scratched at his chin and lowered his legs to swing them over the sill's edge. "Not really. Rather harass you. It's far more entertaining."

"Great." She sighed wearily.

As she started to smear the gut scent on her skin, Virag stopped her. "Really, precious ... overkill. Given the heinousness of your ridiculous outfit, you don't need to smell on top of it. No dragon is going to choose anyone wearing that scytel. You'll be lucky if they don't all flee at your approach. Probably vacate the hall like it's afire. They might even leave the whole of the Ynys Prydein."

She capped the vial and smiled again. "Good." Last thing she wanted was a forced mating with some hybrid creature who'd eaten her father. And probably his own as well. "I don't understand why we need them for our army, anyway. What's wrong with riding horses?"

"For one? They can't fly." He fluttered his wings at her. "Something I'm rather fond of doing myself, and I highly recommend. Poor you, to be so deprived."

"So? There's much to be said for having two feet planted firmly on the ground. I can't break a wing and fall three hundred feet, where I shatter all my bones and land as a big bloody stain to be spooned up later."

"The second reason?" he continued, ignoring her interruption. "Horses tend to burst into flames when dragons attack them and spew their fire all over them. Other dragons don't do that. They fight back."

He had a point. Still, she wasn't willing to give it to him. "Horses take up a lot less room and they don't eat you out of house and home."

"I wouldn't go that far. Horses eat quite a lot, including your shoes."

"Humph." She wrinkled her nose as she belted on her sword. "This is a stupid tradition to hold on the day that celebrates a saint known for slaying dragons, don't you think?"

"Perhaps. But it's more a taming celebration. Man over beast, and all that rot."

"Do you really believe that?"

"You're asking a nightmare demon if I think a dragon can be tamed by a mere mortal? Sure. Why not? I'll go with it. I've seen much stranger things in my day — like a kikimora who gives up her immortality to be a dirt farmer in some backwoods village kingdom no one's ever heard of. Penllyn ... really?"

She rolled her eyes at his sarcasm over their mother's decision that he still held against her. Meanwhile, the dreamer in Edilyn thought it was the most romantic thing she'd ever heard of.

If not the most practical, given what it had ultimately cost her mother.

And father, too.

Sadly, she'd never met a man as honorable as her father. Nor as loving or fierce. If one existed, he definitely didn't live in Penllyn. It was little wonder that her mother had been so reluctant to let go of so rare an individual as her father. Such a unicorn needed to be cherished and kept.

Edilyn cast a wistful smile at Virag. "I just want to be a warrior on my own. Like my father was."

"Then I wish it for you."

"Thank you."

"You're very welcome. May you never live to regret the decisions you make." And with that, he pushed himself to his feet and flew from the sill to the small, dark green bottle that made up his home. In a flash of white light, he vanished inside it.

Edilyn carefully picked the bottle up and secured it to her neck by the thick black leather cord, then settled it in the pocket of her tunic.

"Can't see. Let me out!"

"You sure?"

"Absolutely. I want to witness this coming travesty firsthand."

Laughing at his dry tone, she obliged him and placed the bottle to hang outside her orange tunic so that he'd be able to see as it swung loose about her neck. Then, she grabbed the handcrafted bow her father had made for her so that she could leave for the Great Hall, where the day's celebration should be in full swing.

But as always, her heart wasn't in the coming festivities, and it definitely wasn't light. "Why is it ever the curse of humanity that the most cherished dreams of our lives are oft the hardest to achieve?" Edilyn sighed at the rhetorical question that had haunted her for years. A sane woman would give it up and let go this useless pursuit of her heart.

If only she were sane....

With a deep breath, she glanced about the sparse, unwelcoming room that had served as her dormer since the day her father had died in battle. How she prayed that after today she'd look at it no more. Nor would she be forced to work in the dreadful fields with the other impoverished orphans the church had taken in.

That this year, she'd finally succeed in making Brenin Cynfryn realize that she could stand as a warrior without a dragon lord to partner with.

Determined to be steadfast in her goal, she took her weathered war bow into her gloved hand. Yet as she did so, an unbidden memory of the previous eight years of failure and heartache brought a most bitter lump to her throat. Don't think about it. The past didn't matter.

Only today did.

Today would be different. She could feel it deep in her bones. Destiny would finally take note of her and reward her diligent persistence.

It would.

Hoping desperately that she wasn't lying to herself — again — Edilyn lifted her chin. She slung her brown leather quiver over her shoulder before making her way from the small hut toward the Great Hall where everyone in her village had gone for the day's celebration and test of arms.

For the last eight years on this very day, she'd won every game she'd participated in. Everyone knew that, like her father before her, she was the best archer among them. Her sword skills were at the top of their clan — while she could be overpowered, she could never be out-skilled. She'd even won the obstacle footrace.

Eight years straight.

And still Brenin Cynfryn refused to grant her freedom.

Stop it! Life's not fair, you know that. It's not supposed to be.

If it were, her parents would still be with her.

She categorically refused to let her negative thoughts impugn her courage or undermine her confidence as she neared the massive building that dominated their small town.

Nothing and no one would get in her way. Not this time. One way or another, she was going to prove to them all that she was worthy of being one of the brenin's marchawgion.

"Get out! You're not welcome here!"

Concerned that angry shout might be directed at her, Edilyn slowed as she neared the oversized oak doors that were marked with ornate iron hinges. Then she realized the two guards shoved at an old man who was dressed in dirty rags and matted furs.

"How many years do we have to throw you out, slagge?"

With an admirable obstinacy, the old man refused to budge. "I was given an invitation, same as the others. Is this not open to all?" The ancient voice was barely a raspy whisper that came from the depths of his filthy hood. Oversized and in the shape of a wolf's head, the cowl revealed no trace of his features.

"Beggars aren't welcome. Now begone with you before I set the dogs on you! Bother us no more!"

This time, they shoved him so forcefully that the one would have fallen had Edilyn not caught him. But that charity cost her, as it was quite painful when his back slammed into her front, proving that he was much heavier and more hale than his shabby, hunched-over appearance gave him credit for.

Stifling her cry of pain, Edilyn helped him regain his balance before she stepped away to address the guards. "He's right. 'Tis St. George's Day. Should we not all be on our best behavior? After all, that blessed saint gave away everything he had before he died to those who were less fortunate. Surely we can find a modicum of charity for those in need?"

The guard sneered at her. "You would break bread with something that reeks like the back end of a horse's arse?"

Rather that than feasting with a dragon.

Wisely, she kept that thought to herself.

Instead, Edilyn cast a kind smile to the old man, who was strangely quiet now. "Better to break bread with someone who smells like an arse than to be one. Stenches can be washed off. But an ass today is an ass tomorrow."

The guard curled his lip as Edilyn boldly took the old man's arm, and in direct defiance of their cruelty, led him inside. However, her victory was short-lived as the guard's parting words struck her like a blow.

"Speaking of asses, you can tell by the ample girth of hers that she's never skimped a meal or been picky over when or where she finds sustenance. Never mind with whom."

The other guard laughed at his snide tone while she ground her teeth, refusing to give them the satisfaction of knowing that those cruel words had struck their mark, and left another bloody wound on her heart.

"Ignore them, my lady. You are by far the most beautiful one here."

She smiled at the old man's kindness and patted his arm. Poor thing must be blind as well as indigent. "Thank you, gentle sir. But I'm no lady. Merely a simple archer's daughter."

"I take it your father is very proud of you."

Those words brought a lump to her throat. "I should like to think he would have been."

"He's passed on?"

"Aye. When I was a girl."

"I'm sorry to hear it."

She offered him a kind smile. "As was I. He was everything to me — a good man with a cheerful disposition, and a wonderful father. He is sorely missed." Her bottle necklace warmed, as it always did whenever Virag wanted to let her know that he was with her and sending her his love and affection.

Edilyn released the old man's arm to show him her most prized possession in all the world — her beloved bow. "But he did give me this, though, before war took him from me." With a bittersweet smile, she ran her hand over the runic engraving her father had placed above the grip while she'd watched him work on it with eager eyes.

"My precious Edilyn?"

Nodding, she blinked back a sudden round of tears. How she missed her father. Instead of becoming easier, his loss and absence seemed to sting more with every passing year.

Same for her mother.

She cleared her throat. "He made the bow himself from the strongest yew he could find, and then gave it to me on my birthday. Since it was just the two of us, we would spend hours in practice. Every day. The women of the village used to say that I drew my bow so much I had the arms of a man." A frown creased her brow as she recalled the old wives' tale about how it was bad luck to cut down a yew tree. Supposedly, anyone who dared such would die within the year.

Was it mere coincidence that her father had perished on the thirteenth day of the eleventh month after he'd dared cut the wood for her bow? She'd always wondered about that.

Not wanting to consider something that was forever near her mind whenever she held her bow, she led the old man to a seat. "You rest and I shall get you some nourishment."

Still completely shielded by his filthy, worn cloak, he complied.

And as she made her way across the room, she overheard numerous familiar conversations....

While the seasons and years changed, the people here and their concerns never did. She'd heard their whining gossip so much, she could recite it from memory. And with that sudden thought, she had to bite back a laugh as an image of Virag's earlier play in her room went through her head.


Excerpted from Dragonmark by Sherrilyn Kenyon. Copyright © 2016 Sherrilyn Kenyon. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

New York Times bestselling author Sherrilyn Kenyon is a regular in the #1 spot. This extraordinary bestseller continues to top every genre in which she writes. More than 60 million copies of her books are in print in more than one hundred countries. Her current series include The Dark-Hunters, The League, and Chronicles of Nick. Her Chronicles of Nick and Dark-Hunter series are soon to be major motion pictures.

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Dragonmark (Dark-Hunter Series #20) 2.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 46 reviews.
Anonymous 10 months ago
I felt like most of the book she was plagiarizing her own work. Half of it was excerpts from two of her other books with Illarion's thoughts interjected. I LOVE Sherrilyn Kenyon's work, but the paled against her other stories. There was very little character building and very little original story. What little original story there was felt rushed. All in all, I felt there was no fluidity and actually skipped through the parts that I've read in her other books. I feel cheated and disappointed. Did someone else write this and just stamp her name on it? ?
Anonymous 10 months ago
75% of this book is a literal cut and paste of Dragonbane and Son of No One. Skip this book and you miss nothing. No explanation of his mark and what it means, no explanation of what has been going on with his wife since she died and a quick wrap to end a story the author seems to not want to write. I have requested a refund.
Anonymous 10 months ago
I was so excited for this book because I love this series. I felt like I was rereading a book I've already read.
Anonymous 10 months ago
Just paid 14.99 for the same books i alreay read. Very bad love the dh storys but this was bad should have been a novela for 3 bucks.
Anonymous 10 months ago
The book was a disappointment. Out of 243 pages the first 108 start to develop a story, then skip ahead 10 years snd end their story by page 111 with no plot development or interest. The rest of the book is plagerized with parts of other books with Illeron having very little to do with the plot. The reader feels as if Illeron is plugged in to the prior stories so Ms. Kenyon could justify putting these parts into this book. Edilyn is is finally interjected back into the book for the last 10 or 20 pages so that there can be a happy ending. Ms Kenyon must have been up against a deadline to end the plot so abruptly, leave many questions unanswered, plagerize her own books, and give a quick--make you happy ending. Would have enjoyed the story if she took her time with it as she did he other stories.
Anonymous 10 months ago
Would like to give no stars. Totally agree with other reviews that it's a ripoff. Add 20 pages to Dragonsbane and you have Dragonsmark. Thought better of Sherilyn Kenyon but she must really need the money to pull this stunt. Probably already has Falcon's story set up the same way and will "rinse and repeat".
Anonymous 10 months ago
Did she think we wouldn't notice how chapter after chapter of this was word for out of her 2 past books. Completely bogus. Can I give this less than 1 star?
Anonymous 10 months ago
Copy and paste from two books and the only part of the book related to the main character seems like fanfiction. I want my money back.
Anonymous 10 months ago
Rerun of previous books. I would ask for my money back if I thought I would get it.
Anonymous 10 months ago
This book was mostly a cut a paste version of her last two books with a few new chapters put in a big disappointment I wish I never bought this
Anonymous 9 months ago
Glad I didn't buy this. First 150 pages or so are a new story but the next 100+ pages are covered in previous books. Then the last 2 chapters are a quick wrap up resolving everything in a neat and boring bow of new material. Maybe it was hard making a complete new story for a character who helped out in 2 previous books. As is she could have made this a novella and cut out more of the scenes from previous books. 2 stars because I like the series and am happy to know Illarion's story. Would have given 3 if I didn't feel like this wasn't hastily written especially the last couple chapters where it felt like things were explained away too easily.
Anonymous 7 months ago
I have read and enjoyed all of the books in the Dark Hunter series and was shocked and extremely disappointed with this one. This was supposed to be Illarion's story not other books retold. I was not surprised when reading other people's reviews to find that they felt the same way; I just wish I would have read them first.
Anonymous 8 months ago
Usually love her books but have to say I am very disappointed already bought and paid for 80% of the story. The main heroine was hardly in the book, and the end was rushed. This book is nothing like others in the series.
Anonymous 8 months ago
So disappointed. I caann't believe I waiated my mmoney on a book that makes no sense amd is a mishmash of her other books.
Anonymous 8 months ago
I love this series but this book fell very short of my expectations. It was if the author didn't have time to think of a new story or maybe ran out of time and filled in the holes with previously written work, that if u hadn't updated yourself since their release 1 and 2 years ago left you thoroughly confused and backtracking to other books. Not Ms Kenyon's finer moments but it will not stop me from reading the next one. We are all Entitled to a screw up every now and then. This is hers!
Anonymous 8 months ago
Agreeing with the majority of reviews I was disappointed with the book. From the beginning I felt that the story was confusing and had too many needless characters added to it, and the cut and paste of the other book was annoying. I don't understand why she thought her readers would not catch it. Clearly she wanted to write the history of him and his mate so the readers understand why he did what he did in Max s book. But obviously did not have enough pages with his story so she added those cut and pasted parts to make the book longer.
Anonymous 9 months ago
Sherriln Kenyon is an amazing author but this book was a major let down. Telling the same storyline as a previous book sndrhen hardly any focus on the main characters made me want to abandon this book. Hopefully the next one will be back up to par.
Anonymous 3 months ago
I'm glad I borrowed this from the library after reading these reviews and did not pay for it. Some original story, but much of it is cut and pasted from prior works. Furthermore, you won't understand much of what is going on in the pasted sections if you haven't read those prior works for background. Disgraceful.
Anonymous 5 months ago
It was like one of my 5th graders wrote this book. Started a story then copy payed from two other books.
Anonymous 5 months ago
I have every book MS Kenyon wrote and could't believe she let this be published! Flashback is one thing cutting and pasting from the last two books; is another
Anonymous 9 months ago
I love all the books in this series. But I do have an issue with this one. At times the flow was interrupted and scene changes seemed cut up as if the editing process was a bit too zeilous. One major minus for me was the cut and paste almost word for word from Dragonbane. I had just finished reading that and went straight on to this one. That is not a good thing to do. If her book wasn't finished in time, SK should have asked for an extention. Also I've noticed that the page count has been dwendling with each HD book. This in no wise will keep me from reading anything written by SK in the future. I am of course a lifetime fan.
Anonymous 9 months ago
All the while I was reading this book I was thinking I've already read this ,I think it is wrong for authors to piece together a book from other books just to meet a deadline or just to sell books,and I was s o dissapointed because I really love this author and look forward to reading them.I don't mind waiting a little longrt for a good book.I felt I paid double for 1 book
ReadingInPajamas 17 days ago
Review: DRAGONMARK (The Dark-Hunters Series) by Sherrilyn Kenyon Publication Date: August 2, 2016 Reviewed by: Reading in Pajamas/ Cori Rated: 5 Stars I loved Illarion! DRAGONMARK is part of the Dragons Rising Trilogy in the Dark-Hunters Series. If you're new to the series I would recommend you start at the beginning to fully enjoy it. Each book has a HEA ending for different couples but the series needs to be read in order to fully appreciate the characters and series plot. If you just what the dragons I'd recommend starting with SON OF NO ONE. DRAGONMARK includes some overlaps from the previous book DRAGONBANE. You don't need to do a reread because it includes the relevant scenes from the previous book. I'm loving the new storyline with the dragons! Sherrilyn Kenyon always keeps this series fresh and exciting and it never gets old. She's on of the queens of paranormal romance and one of my favorite authors. I highly recommend anything she writes. *Review copy provided by St. Martin's Press in exchange for an honest review.
Anonymous 5 months ago
Half of this book is the previous book. I just paid for a booklet. I kept having to look at the cover to make sure I'm reading the right one. She cut out half of the previous book out and inserted in this one. We have the beginning of the story, then skip to the end. Was not worth more than a few dollars.
Anonymous 5 months ago
Not worth the money. This is my favorite author and I ignored the reviews and assumed people were overreacting. They're not.