The Descent (Taker Trilogy #3)

The Descent (Taker Trilogy #3)

by Alma Katsu


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781451651829
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication date: 01/07/2014
Series: Taker Trilogy , #3
Edition description: Original
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 1,290,428
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 10.00(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Alma Katsu was born in Alaska and raised near Concord, Massachusetts. She has a BA in writing from Brandeis University and an MA from the Johns Hopkins Writing Program. She is the author of the Taker trilogy (The Taker, The Reckoning, and The Descent) and The Hunger. She lives with her husband in Virginia. Visit her on Twitter.

Read an Excerpt

The Descent


The sunlight glinting off the Mediterranean that afternoon was bright enough to blind, and the boat bounced hard off the waves like a broken-down carnival ride. I’d come halfway around the world to find someone who was very important to me, and I wouldn’t let a little rough weather keep me from finishing my journey. I squinted against the headwind to the horizon, trying to will a rocky shoreline to appear out of nowhere.

“Is it much farther?” I asked the captain.

“Signorina, until I met you this morning, I never knew this island even existed, and I have lived on Sardegna my entire life.” He was in his fifties if he was a day. “We must wait until we get to the coordinates, and then we will see what we shall see.”

My stomach floated unsteadily, due to nerves and not the waves. I had to trust that the island would be where it was supposed to be. I’d seen strange things in my lifetime—my long lifetime—many of them stranger than the sudden appearance of an island that heretofore had not existed. That would be a relatively minor miracle, on the scale of such things, considering I’d already lived over two hundred years and was destined to live forever. But I was a mere babe compared to the man I was going to see, Adair, the man who had given me—or burdened me, depending on your point of view—with eternal life. His age was inestimable. He could’ve been a thousand years old, or older. He’d given differing stories every time we met, including the occasion of our last parting four years ago. Had he been a student of medicine in medieval times, devoted to science and caught in the thrall of alchemy, intent on discovering new worlds? Or was he a heartless manipulator of lives and souls, a man without a conscience who was interested only in extending his life for the pursuit of pleasure? I didn’t think I’d gotten the truth yet.

We had a tangled history, Adair and I. He had been my lover and my teacher, master to my slave. We had literally been prisoner to each other. Somewhere along the way he fell in love with me, but I was too afraid to love him in return. Afraid of his unexplainable powers, and his furious temper. Afraid of what I knew he was capable of and afraid to learn he was already guilty of committing far worse. I ran away to follow a safer path with a man I could understand. I always knew, however, that my path would one day lead back to Adair.

Which is how I came to be in a small fishing boat, far off the Italian coast. I wrapped my sweater more tightly around my shoulders and rode along with the ship’s rocking, and closed my eyes for a moment’s rest from the glare. I had shown up at the harbor in Olbia looking to hire a boat to take me to an island everyone said didn’t exist. “Name your price,” I said when I’d gotten tired of being ridiculed. Of the boat owners who were suddenly interested, he seemed the kindest.

“Have you been to this area before? Corsica, perhaps?” he asked, trying either to make small talk or to figure out what I expected to find at this empty spot in the Mediterranean Sea.

“Never,” I answered. The wind tossed my blond curls into my face.

“And your friend?” He meant Adair. Whether he was my friend or not, I didn’t know. We’d parted on good terms, but he could be mercurial. There was no telling what mood he’d be in the next time we met.

“I think he’s lived here for a few years,” I answered.

Even though it appeared that I’d piqued the captain’s interest, there was nothing more to say, and so the captain busied himself with the GPS and the ship’s controls, and I went back to staring over the water. We had cleared La Maddalena Island and now faced open sea.

Before long, a black speck appeared on the horizon. “Santa Maria,” the captain muttered under his breath as he checked the GPS again. “I tell you, signorina, I sail through this area every day and I have never seen that”—he pointed at the landmass, growing in size as we approached—“before in my life.”

As we got closer, the island took shape, forming a square rock that jutted up out of the sea like a pedestal. Waves crashed against it on all sides. From the distance, there didn’t appear to be a house on the island, nor any people.

“Where is the dock?” the captain asked me, as though I’d know. “There is no way to put you ashore if there is no dock.”

“Sail all the way around,” I suggested. “Perhaps there’s something on the other side.”

He brought his little boat around and we circled slowly. On the second side was another cliff, and on the third, a steep slope dropped precipitously to a stony and unwelcoming beach. On the fourth side, however, there was a tiny floating dock tethered to a rock outcropping, and a rickety set of sunburnt stairs leading to a stone house.

“Can you get close to the dock?” I shouted into the captain’s ear to be heard above the wind. He gave me an incredulous look, as though only a crazy person would consider climbing onto the floating platform.

“Would you like me to wait for you?” he asked as I prepared to climb over the side of the boat. When I shook my head, he protested, “Signorina, I cannot leave you here! We don’t know if it is safe. The island could be deserted . . .”

“I have faith in my . . . friend. I’ll be fine. Thank you, Captain,” I said, and leapt onto the weatherworn wooden dock, which bucked against the waves. He looked absolutely apoplectic, his eyes bulging as I climbed the staircase, gripping the railing as I struggled against the wind. When I got to the top, I waved to him, signaling that he should go, and watched as his boat turned back the way we had come.

The island was exactly as it had appeared from the sea. It seemed carved from one lump of black stone that had emerged directly from the ocean floor. It had no vegetation except for a stand of scraggy pines and a bright chartreuse carpet of moss spread at their roots. A few goats ran by and seemed to regard me with an amused, knowing air before they scampered out of sight. They had long, silky coats of many colors and one had a frightening pair of twisted horns, wicked-looking enough to be worn by the devil.

I turned to the house, so ancient and solid that it seemed to have grown straight from the bedrock of the island. The house was a curious thing, its stone walls so sandblasted by weather that it was impossible to tell much about it, including when it might’ve been built, though it resembled a fortress—small and compact yet just as imposing. The front door was a big slab of wood that had been thoroughly dried and bleached by the sun. It had elaborate ironwork hinges and was decorated with iron studs in the Moorish style, and gave the impression that it could withstand anything, even a battering ram. I lifted the knocker and brought it down once, twice, three times.

When I heard nothing from the other side of the door, however, I started to wonder if maybe I’d made a mistake. What if the captain had misread his charts and left me on the wrong island—what if Adair had moved back to civilization on the mainland by now? I’d tracked him down through a man named Pendleton who’d acted as Adair’s servant until Adair chose to go into seclusion. While Pendleton wasn’t sure what had caused Adair to withdraw from the world, he gave me coordinates to the island, which he admitted was so small that it appeared on no maps. He warned me there was no easy way to get in touch with Adair, as he didn’t use email and didn’t seem to have a phone. I had no intention of alerting him to my arrival anyway—force of habit made me wary of Adair still, but I also didn’t want to risk being put off or dissuaded from coming.

I knew Adair was somewhere in the area, though, because I felt his presence, the unceasing signal that connected him to each of the people he’d gifted with eternal life. The presence felt like an electronic droning in my consciousness that wouldn’t stop. It would fall off when he was far away—as it had the last four years—or grow stronger when he was close. This was the strongest it had been in a while—and was competing with the butterflies in my stomach in anticipation of seeing him again.

I was distressed to hear that Adair was living by himself, particularly because it was such a remote location. Now that I saw the island, I was more worried still. The house looked as though it had no electricity or running water, not unlike where he might’ve lived in the eighteenth century. I wondered if this return to a way of life that was familiar to him could be a sign that he was overwhelmed by the present and couldn’t cope with the never-ending onslaught of the new. And for our kind, retreating into the past was never good.

I sought out Adair now after four years apart only because I’d been seized by an idea that I wanted to put into action, and I needed his help to make it work. I had no notion, however, if he still cared for me enough to help me, or if his love had dried up when it went unreciprocated.

I knocked again, louder. If worse came to worst, I could find a way into his house and wait for Adair to return. It seemed an arduous trip to make for nothing. Given my immortal condition, it wasn’t as though I needed anything to live on, food or water, or that I couldn’t deal with the cold (though there was split wood stacked against the side of the house and three chimneys, each with multiple lots, visible on the roof). If he didn’t return after a reasonable length of time, I had my cell phone and the harbormaster’s number, though the captain had warned me that reception was nearly impossible to get this far off the coast. If I was lucky, however, I might be able to flag down a passing boat . . .

The door flung back at that instant, and to my surprise, a thin woman with brassy blond hair stood before me. She was in her late twenties, I would guess, and though pretty, she was worn around the edges in a way that made me think she’d worked hard at enjoying life. She had on a wrinkled sundress and sandals, and hoop earrings that were big enough to wear as bracelets. Unsurprisingly, she regarded me with suspicion.

“Oh! I’m sorry—I hope I’m not on the wrong island,” I said, regaining my wits in time to remember to be charming, all the while thinking: In seclusion, my ass, Pendleton. “I’m looking for a man by the name of Adair. I don’t suppose there’s anyone here by that name?”

She cut me off so sharply that I almost didn’t get the last word out. “Is he expecting you?” She spoke with a working-class British accent. Over her shoulder, a second woman stepped into view at the other end of the hall, a full-figured woman with long dark-brown hair. Her skirt came down to her ankles and she wore embroidered Turkish slippers on her feet. Aside from their shared displeasure at seeing me, the pair of young women was physically as dissimilar as two women could be.

“No, he doesn’t know I was coming, but we’re old friends and—”

The two of them crowded the doorway now, shoulder to shoulder, a barricade of crossed arms and frowns set on lipsticked mouths. Up close like this, I could see that they were very pretty. The blonde was like a model, thin and boyish, while the brunette was lush and womanly, and a picture of them in bed with Adair came to my mind unbidden, the three in a tangle of bare arms and legs, heavy breasts and silken flanks. Their lips on his chest and groin, and his head thrown back in pleasure. A wave of hurt passed over me, tinged with that particular sense of belittlement rarely felt out of adolescence. I fought the urge to turn around and flee.

Had I been wrong to come here? No, knowing Adair hadn’t changed and had returned to his sybaritic ways made my task easier. There would be no strings, no possibility of reconciliation. I could forget about everything except asking for Adair’s help.

“Look, girls,” I started, shifting the weight of the knapsack in my hands. “Would you mind if I came inside to get out of this wind before I’m blown off a cliff? And if one of you would be so kind as to let Adair know that he has a visitor? My name is—”

“Lanore.” His voice rang in my ear, rushing to fill a space left empty. And then he appeared at the end of the hall, a shadowy figure backlit by the sun. My heart raced, being in his presence once again. Adair, the man who’d hurt and deceived me, loved and exalted me, brought a man back from the dead for me, given me all of time in the hope I would share it with him. Did he still love me enough to help me?

As I stood in Adair’s magnetic presence, everything that had happened between us rushed back to me in a tumult, all that passion and anger and hurt. The chaos of the strange world I had known when I’d lived with him tugged at me. I stood at his door ready to ask him to take a journey with me—a journey that wasn’t without risk. The bond between us might be ruined forever. Still, I had no choice. No one else could help me.

A new chapter in our history was about to begin.

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The Descent 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A complete about-face from 1 & 2. Very disappointing and anti climactic.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was disappointed with this final installment. I really enjoyed the first book, it seemed full of flawed interesting characters and rather dark. It seems like after writing the first book the author was told to make it more appealing to the masses and push the story into more of a typical paranormal romance novel. The third book ended too neat and tidy for me with no mention of several important characters from books one and two. Even the trials the characters had to face in this book seemed thrown together and easily dealt with. Maybe if the last book had been 100 or so pages longer it would have been less disappointing. The characters were unrecognizable, Adair went from the dark and alluring anti hero to one of the most dull characters I've read in a while.
Under_The_Covers_BookBlog More than 1 year ago
Alma Katsu’s The Descent is one of my most anticipated read since reading The Reckoning in 2012. This novel is the last of The Taker Trilogy, and I must say, Ms Katsu did an AMAZING job. The journey that Lenore, Adair and Jonathan and even Luke has come to an end. Jonathan and Luke are where they are destined to be. Adair is at peace with his life though still longing for love. Unfortunately, Lenore will have to take one last journey before she can finally be at peace. She will ask Adair to send her to the Under World to look for Jonathan. In this journey she along with the fans of this trilogy will find out the true roots of their immortality. Ms. Katsu’s book of heartaches, loss and obsessions had taken an expected turn. It is now full of forgiveness, resoluteness and true love. All my opinions about the protagonists had also taken a turn. I have now fallen deep in love with Adair. This man will go to the ends of the world to find his love and to boot, he would give up everything for her. Hands down to Ms Katsu into turning a vindictive and ruthless man into a loving one. And as far as Lenore, I am glad that she finally came to terms with her life. She no longer seeks love as if it was her lifeline. It was nice to see her finally get peace after a very long life of heartaches. The rest of the characters of course made there cameos. Ms Katsu had also put a satisfying end to their stories though some may have been bitter sweet. The Descent had an interesting take on the afterlife, the Underworld, and it’s connection to Greek mythology. I was absolutely intrigued. The long awaited last adventure of The Taker Trilogy was worth the wait. This series and its characters has marked a place in my heart and will always be on top of my recommendation list. Warning: Spoilers Ahead!!!! My only quibble is the ending of the story. The ending is not bad by a long shot. Adair and Lenore finally got their happy-ending, and this was long overdue. However, after all this time with their obsession with immortality, their ending seemed…well, not what I expected. If you ‘ve read The Taker and The Reckoning, you know that the ending in both novels were a cliff hangers but had ended in such a big way. Well, both books were amazing including this one. In this novel though, the ending did not have that wow-factor. I was expecting a monumental ending that would leave my jaw dropping to the floor. Unfortunately, it did not. I’m not sure if it was because of the long wait for this book or I simply expected too much from it. Regardless of this ending, my rating stands strong. It did not hinder my opinion of this book or the series. Ms. Katsu is an exquisite writer with a vivid imagination. The Taker Trilogy is not to be missed, and I’m a bit sad it had to end. I am looking forward to reading Ms. Katsu’s future novels. *Review copy provided by publisher
mysticrosetiger More than 1 year ago
This book was a great read. Lanore has been around for an extremely longtime. She has loved and lose, betrayed and other things just to get by but no matter what she will always love Adair through thick and thin.
Teritree001971at More than 1 year ago
In THE DESCENT the author has taken ancient mythology and given the reader a glimpse into a few of their lives. It makes them appear more human, as opposed to sitting high overhead carelessly dabbling in the fate of human lives. The first thing I remember is the vivid dream which opens this portion of the story. It draws you into a world which everyone is familiar with, even though the readers may be entirely different. The feeling of being inside the dream is felt more, as the narrator is never described and merely referred to as I. In this story, we learn the story of who Adair and Lany are, as well as how they came to be who they are. The author does this with realistic pictures of times and places long forgotton. When reading the descriptions in Italy, you can almost loose yourself and forget you're sitting on the couch in this city. Descriptions of powers possessed by the characters is hidden in plain sight, yet at times even they are unaware of their abilities. In the end, they make choices they never intended. At the same time, immortality is presented in different light. We are given a glimpse into the negative aspects of it and you can't help but wonder if mortality is here for a reason.
JillianReadLoveBlog More than 1 year ago
The Descent is the final book in author Alma Katsu’s The Taker Trilogy.  After reading, and loving, the first two books I was beyond anxious to see how things would end for Lanny, Adair, Luke and Jonathan.  Well, the ending was far better and more awe-filled than I ever could have imagined. After being curiously spared from Adair’s wrath over his imprisonment, Lanny had lived the last four years peacefully with Luke.  All was well until the nightmares began.  Nightmares of Jonathan being tortured in the underworld.  Lanny had been able to dismiss these for quite some time but now the dreams were more frequent and more violent.  Fearing these dreams were Jonathan calling her subconscious for help, she knew she had to do something about it.   Knowing full well there was only one person who could help her, she sets off to find that person.  Adair.  Her journey not only takes her to a secluded and remote island and to Adair’s home, but also to the underworld and to visits with many of the people and places that make up her past. The question remains, will she be able to find and help Jonathan before it’s too late or was this whole trip wasted effort? I just finished this amazing book and I am still in awe over this series ending.  I have had mixed emotions since the very first book between Jonathan and Adair and who, if either, were the right choice for Lanny.  I was leaning heavily toward Adair but had a sneaking suspicion that he wasn’t to be trusted and that there were tricks hidden up his sleeve that would end up hurting Lanny.  On the flip side, I was tired of Jonathan and his inability to love Lanny the way she had been longing for since, well, forever.  Then there was Luke, the safe choice.  I wanted to like him much more than I did, but he was just too vanilla for Lanny.   More and more I kept pulling for Adair and I wanted so badly to believe he was honest in the astounding changes he’s made within himself.  Almost right up until the end, I wasn’t sure of who was right for Lanny.  My choice ended up being Adair.  But was it Lanny’s?  My lips are sealed. Lanny’s journey into the underworld to rescue Jonathan was like a trip down memory lane and gave her a chance to revisit some of the characters we met earlier in the series.  Some were good visits, and some painful.  Peppered in between the chapters of her journey are snapshots of Adair’s earlier life and how he came to be the man he was today.  Magic, alchemy and the occult all playing a part in shaping him.  But one thing Ms. Katsu has done from the very beginning was subtly letting the reader know that nothing is what it seems…and oh boy, by the end of this story it was clear that what we had believed to be true was anything but.  The ending threw me and had me dumbstruck…but in the best kind of way!  Many secrets are revealed and puzzle pieces made to fit. In a word? Brilliant. This series is beautifully written with description that makes characters seem real and places seem tangible.  If you haven’t read the first two books, I do recommend reading them before this final installment for you to truly appreciate the web of relationships that has been spun from the very beginning.  Thank you, Ms. Katsu, for a trilogy that will stay with me for quite some time and for characters I have thoroughly enjoyed.
Sandy-thereadingcafe More than 1 year ago
3.75 stars:  THE DESCENT is the third and final instalment in Alma Katsu’s dark, paranormal, fantasy-esque The Taker Trilogy focusing on Lanore ‘Lanny’ McIlvrae-an immortal woman whose life and loves are about to take an even darker turn. The storyline follows Lanny as she searches for Jonathan-the man she has loved for close to two hundred years but a man who is currently residing in the Underworld as consort to the Queen. Lanny’s desperate need to find Jonathan takes her back to Adair-her maker and the man who is passionately and violently in love with Lanny. When Adair offers Lanny a ‘magical’ potion to the Underworld, what follows is akin to ‘This Is Your Life’ or ‘A Christmas Carol’ as Lanny discovers that the path to self-actualization will lead her back to the man with whom she truly loves.  THE DESCENT focuses on three particular turning points in Lanny’s life.  While Lanny contemplates the what ifs and whys of her own historical journey through the Underworld, Adair remains behind fighting a demon of his own. Flashbacks and memories of Adair’s younger years add layers to the character we always thought we knew.   Adair is a dark and tortured anti-hero. He is the man we all loved to hate; the man who took Lanny’s life and gave her immortality but in doing so set into motion centuries of regret, desperation and a longing for something he could never have. In the end, Lanny realizes that she has lost her heart to Adair, but discovers that Adair is something more than she could have possibly imagined. Adair’s connections to the Underworld are a bit of a surprise to everyone including the reader. Alma Katsu concludes The Taker Trilogy with a happily ever after that was not unexpected but the race to the finish felt different than the previous two instalments. The Descent is a lighter storyline, not as dark or passionate in the retelling, but one that focuses on the past more than the present. The character development took an abrupt turn with a departure from the original storylines and revealed quite a different scenario as it pertained to several of the series’ personas:   Luke’s destiny is revealed; Jonathan’s future is laid out before him; and Adair only wants on thing in his life-Lanore McIlvrae.  Lanny is a woman still torn between three men but in the end, her heart belongs to only one man.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I anticipated this book for weeks, waiting for my vacation to really soak it in. I am so glad I did. First of all, I love that the review of books 1 and 2 is interspersed throughout the story, keeping it simple and related to the present. Secondly, I love how the fantasy world fits into the reality of our world here and now. The relationships and dilemmas are familiar, and I felt like I grew as a person while I read it. The suspense in the middle was not as intense as the first two books of the trilogy, but I was still captivated by the characters and their quest. It's a must-read. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
kydirtgirl68 More than 1 year ago
Lanore has spent her life trying to get away from Adair. She has always known of him to be evil and only out for his own gain. Now she needs to track him down because she needs him to help her get Jonathan back. She finds him on a deserted island begins to really understand the man he is. She finds Jonathan is the consort of the Queen of the Underworld. She must go there to get him back and she has to make an agreement with Adair to get him agree to help her. She has to decide how far she will go to save Jonathan and what she really wants. This is a thrilling conclusion to The Taker series. It has so many twist and turns I did not see coming that it kept me turning the pages to see more of the fantastic characters. Lanore has showed many sides in this series. In this one we see her having many regrets and really wanting to make things right. She faces up to her fear of Adair to get his help. Adair really surprised me in this book as we see a new side of him as well. When you first see him again he seems depressed and really down. He isn't up to his usually tricks and while he has his own agenda he still seems to have a good heart. Adding in a trip to the Underworld and all the new characters make this a whole new world to discover and love. I won't give any spoilers but I will say you are in for lots of shocks and turns. I love how it ended even if I never saw it coming it was a delightful surprise especially for me who would have never thought it. If you haven't ever read this series I highly recommend it.
Nookmaniac More than 1 year ago
This trilogy was fantastic! I couldn't put the books down. Just kept getting better and better. Characters were well developed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wow! This book was fantastic! This trilogy is my absolute favorite! This book was better then I even imagined! The journey through this book was amazing and the ending perfect! Alma Katsu is brilliant! This trilogy was absolutely perfect! Loved it!
atlantabooklover More than 1 year ago
The third in the trilogy has been long anticipated and Ms. Katsu did not disappoint. All loose ends were tied up nicely.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I dont agree with others who found this final installment lacking. Recognizing and accepting faults in others and yourself is imperative to finding love. I like that Adair was willing to force himself to change for the one he loved and was willing to wait while Lanore was on her own path of enlightenment. The resolution to this series was not one i was expecting,but thoroughly enjoyed. Great, creative series!
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tpolen More than 1 year ago
Although I enjoyed the first two books in this series, this one was my least favorite. Throughout these books, my feelings toward Adair varied from fascination, awe, anger, shock, disgust, pity, admiration - you get the picture. He was definitely a multi-faceted character. But the Adair in The Descent seemed to be a different character entirely - not necessarily a bad thing. In order to be with Lanore, he needed to redeem himself in some way, and rather than just tell the reader Adair had changed, the author brought in some characters from the first two books to demonstrate this transformation, although it still seemed sudden and somewhat dubious to me. I also learned more about Adair's past - always interesting - and the revelation toward the end of the book was a unique twist, something I didn't see coming. The journey with Lanore through this series allowed me to see her metamorphosis from an immature and naive teenage girl into a self-confident woman who has experienced many lifetimes of happiness, regret, and sorrow, but now knows what she wants. In this book, she was given the rare opportunity to ease her conscience and make amends with people from her past. The Descent wrapped up this series with a satisfying ending, but I felt as if the end came abruptly and wondered if I was missing some pages. Overall, I liked this series and am glad I read it. If you're a fan of paranormal romance or maybe tired of the repetitive pattern of some books in that genre, I would recommend this series as it offers a new twist. This review is based on a digital ARC from the publisher through NetGalley.