Minotaur: Prayer is the book 2 of Naomi Lucas’s fantastic dark fantasy series, The Bestial Tribe. I discovered this series last year and haven’t looked back ever since. It’s definitely not my usual fare where reading is concerned but damn, I really love all the nitty-gritty of this series! Down the big, uh...Minotaurs who are the H’s of this series. :P
Being true to its genre, The Bestial Tribe series features many mythical creatures. Some I heard of, others I had no idea bout until I googled. If you talk about fantasy/paranormal romances, I’m someone who prefers stories about ghosts and haunting. I’ve read stories about incubus and Fae (fairies) and enjoyed those too. Yet, mythology is a subject I’ve always been intrigued about. In the past, I’ve read rewritten romances based on one mythology or the other. It was one of the reasons why I was interested in this series. Also, Minotaur, as a whole, wasn’t a mythological character (or creature?) that I was vastly knowledgeable about. Googling about them didn’t help much since they look kinda scary. I think, it should be a challenge in itself to make a hero out of a Minotaur (in this case half-human, half-Minotaur) but Naomi Lucas tried just that, and TBH, succeeded marvelously.
The whole setting of this series is quite fantastical. I had a difficult time imagining some of the places she described but it wasn’t because I was lacking in ideas. I did have my own vision of those places but I also wished I could actually see what the author imagined when she was writing the books. I also think it totally surpasses any era or time-frame that can be humanely measured.
In book 1 Minotaur: Blooded, we were introduced to the Bathyr Brothers, or at least the first of them, called Vedikus. Our h, Aldora, lived in a towwn closer to what everyone knew as the Labyrinth. It’s a dark barrier, a shadowy being on its own. The other side of labyrinth is a cursed place; a place full of dark creatures with darker intents and the humans close to the towns near the border do their best to “appease” them by sacrificing whoever they deem fit to be thrown over the wall, in hopes that the beasts within won’t come out to grab them. Since the labyrinth is ever-moving, it also claims towns as it moves forward. Whole town at a time that gets lost into the darkness of that place, its inhabitants never to be seen again. Most don’t make out of the labyrinth alive. And the few who have would never talk about what happened to them inside. They live an ostracized life on their own and others steer clear of them like they carry the plague.
Aldora was sacrificed by her townspeople for something really petty, and she literally landed on Vadikus’s lap when they threw her over. Vedikus, who prowled at the border and fought with goblins and centaurs and whatever else came his way. Any clan he deemed his enemy. It was the ‘survival of the fittest’ at its best. You also will have to be strong and intelligent to avoid death that dogs your every step. Vedikus knew it all too well. He was also looking for a human female to mate with. Because it was known in the whole labyrinth that pure human blood is the essence, the mana of life. Every creature there lusted for it and would do anything to get their hands on this elusive thing. They also knew that any offspring of theirs having human blood or humanity would be much more stronger than the cursed creatures lived within the labyrinth.
Vedikus and his 4 brothers once upon a time were a part of their own clan where their father ruled and their human mother did whatever she could to help. His mother was a also witch and things went awry pretty soon with the other full-blooded Minotaurs. Things fell apart, their father was killed and their mother abducted. They’d never seen her ever since, but knew she’s probably not alive anymore. The brothers, the heirs of the Bathyr Clan, then left to strike out on their own. The Bathyr Brothers now had plans to build their own clan in a new place. But for this new beginning, they needed human females to make their offspring stronger and smarter than the creatures who were always competing for the best place in the labyrinth; to be among the rulers. So the Bathyrs knew they’d have issues with other creatures, the worst being the Centaurs who were also half-human they called as the horsebeasts. But the centaurs were pretty nasty the way they treated human female and extremely cruel the way they breed them. No human female wanted to be with them. I had some vague ideas from the narratives and I don’t think it was pleasant in any way. Eeek!
But the Minotaurs, at least the Bathyr Brothers seemed different. Each wanted to be mated to one human female. Vedikus has been around the Labyrinth border hoping he found one before any of his other brothers did. Luck was on his side the day he found Aldora. After finding her though, Vedikus’s complete attention was focused on how to keep her alive and take her to their own place, which was a hideaway atop a mountain. But nothing is ever as easy in the labyrinth. Vedikus knew it and was ready to do his best for his human.
In book 1, we found them fighting their way through the Labyrinth. I loved, enjoyed and sometimes, was equally grossed out by all the blood and gore that was described in the book. I do think it’s a matter of personal taste. For some, that description may not be anything but for me it was enough. I had this perpetual thing where I felt the need to shower often. >.< I think you’d understand what I mean if you read the book. The Labyrinth isn’t a place for the weak for sure!
In book 1, we were also introduced to the hag of a place named Prayer who helped Vedikus and Aldora. Aldora, who was affected by the environment of the Labyrinth and was showing the symptoms of becoming a ‘thrall’, needed help pronto. A thrall is a human who had lost all their humanity to the labyrinth after being exposed to its cursed air. They looked pallid and without any life inside. In a way, they were a type of zombie. They lived like that for years and years, never dying unless something or someone killed them. Even if Prayer had thralls, it was somewhat of a protected place where Vedikus knew he can treat Aldora. The hag of Prayer, Calavia, was a witch and knew her ways around things. Even though Aldora was treated, things didn’t end well with Calavia and Vedikus because of an incident where he felt Aldora was duped and he was betrayed by the witch.
And even though Vedikus and Aldora made it to their way atop the mountain where the Bathyr Brothers lived, I had plenty of questions about Prayer and it’s hag, who showed herself to them under different façades, one of them was of a little girl. No one actually knew how old she was or who she actually was. I was hoping to get some answers to my questions. Book 2, Minotaur: Prayer appeased all that and more.
I’d suggest you read book 1 before picking up book 2 since they are very much interconnected by storyline and characters. We learned of Vedikus’s brothers but none were actually introduced except for the eldest, Dezetus very briefly. In book 2, we get to know a little more about the other Bathyr brothers, Thyrius and Hinekur. But when Calavia was looking for someone to help her fight to keep Prayer alive, she chose Astegur as her savior, not knowing a thing about him. Not knowing if he’ll save her or if she’d just made the biggest mistake of her life. She saw him and said ‘come to me’ as if that’s what was bound to happen.
Calavia was born to a human mother who had some magic in her. While reading, I felt that her background was kind of vague. It was as mysterious as the origin of the place where she lived. What little was told, it was from her musings. All I could gather is that she was born out of violence. Her mother was the one that cursed the priest who fathered her. When Prayer was engulfed by the labyrinth and its mist-like air, many tried to escape, including her father. They were never seen or heard from again. Calavia’s mother tried her best to keep the mist and the curse at bay with her magic. But it took a lot from her. Somehow, over the many years since it happened, her mother eventually succumbed to the mist, leaving Calavia alone with the other thralls that never left. She never became a thrall because anyone who was born into the mist was immune to its curse. Calavia was the only thing in this cursed place who was alive, trying to keep it alive with her. Because that’s all she’d known since she was born. Moreover, her mother was still here even if she wasn’t a human anymore.
The mist that cursed the place was also what hid Prayer from other predatory eyes. I don’t remember how Vedikus came to know of the place but it seems he and his brothers knew of this place. But he wasn’t a threat, so Calavia helped him. But the centaurs were an entirely different matter. And now they knew of Prayer and were planning an attack. Calavia, who had human blood, also inherited a part of her mother’s magic. It was quite potent and also took a lot from her. It demanded her pure human blood to work, to show her whatever was outside of Prayer. With only a group of thrall to protect her, she knew she stood no chance of saving Prayer on her own. She couldn’t even ask for her mother’s help any longer. For even though she still protected the boundaries of Prayer, Calavia’s mother didn’t communicate with her much. Calavia’s mother was beyond all help.
I found Calavia’s story extremely sad. So so freakin’ lonely all these years! No one knows exactly how many years, maybe even centuries, that she’d lived like this in a water-logged, bug-ridden, completely dilapidated place. Prayer was once a thriving city with people teeming in here, coming to worship the Gods. Now all were gone. There was only one temple that somehow survived and that was Calavia’s living quarters. As I read on, the description of Prayer gave me the shivers. I had this continuous feeling of being wet, like when you feel on a rainy day. I didn’t think it was a pleasant feeling. I also couldn’t fault her for using her magic to summon Astegur. She knew that a part-human Minotaur would be preferable to any other creature that roamed the labyrinth. What other choice did she have left?
Astegur was practically minding his own business when he was sucked into Calavia’s magic. He’d already seen her once or twice while she was trying to communicate with him after choosing him to be the one to fight for her. And Astegur had wanted this little dark haired human-looking female. He was sure that this was some witch who had no human blood to offer him. However he still felt a pull that he couldn’t deny. Then, when he finally reaches Prayer and learns of what Vedikus has done and how the centaurs had planned on attacking Prayer because of that, he knew he couldn’t turn his back on her. The chemistry, the pull was quite instant.
The rest of the story will take you to a thrilling adventure which was no less wild than book 1, yet I somehow ended up loving it even more. Calavia was a force to reckon with. And Astegur’s total transformation from a contemptuous Minotaur to a completely devoted beast to Calavia was super fascinating, as was his oath to fight for a place that he hated with all his being just because of how it tried to enslave the woman he wanted, making him afraid of losing her.
The Bathyr Brothers continue to surprise me in the best of ways despite being half-beasts themselves. I’m totally enjoying how the author is weaving the storyline, making me want to know more. To see where this is going. I’m now so hooked in this series that I can’t wait for book 3! Even though I have no clear idea whose book it’ll be. Personally, I’m kind of partial to Dezetus for some reason. LOL 4.25 stars.