The Dark Series introduces the Carpathians, a powerful and ancient race. They have many gifts, including the ability to shape-shift, and extended life spans, living for thousands of years. Though they feed on human blood, they don't kill their human prey, and for the most part live among humans without detection. Despite their gifts, the Carpathians are on the edge of extinction. There have been few children born to them in the past few centuries, and those that have been born are all male and often die in the first year. It has been more than 500 years since a female has been born. In the absence of their female counterparts, also known as "lifemates", male Carpathians lose the ability to feel emotions and to see in color. The only feeling left to them is the thrill of making a kill. Once a male has done this, he loses his soul and "turns", becoming the monster of human legend, the vampire or the "undead". With so few females left, males are forced to make a stark choice: either become vampire or "greet the dawn" (i.e. commit suicide). However, when they do find a lifemate, the ability to see in color and their emotions are restored to them, and their souls are saved.