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Blood Games [Paperback]

Chelsea Quinn Yarbro

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Book Description

May 8 1994
Blending the dark eroticism of the vampire with the suspenseful adventure in history's most exotic locales, Yarbro's Saint-Germain epic continues in this third book that takes place in the last chaotic days of Nero's Rome.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books (May 8 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812528018
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812528015
  • Product Dimensions: 17 x 10.6 x 3.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 249 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,344,697 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.6 out of 5 stars  19 reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best introduction to the series, establish major characters Dec 31 2000
By R. Kelly Wagner - Published on
Blood Games is set in Nero's Rome, in the 817th Year of the City. (about 60 C.E.) The book is the third one written in the series; it is one of the earliest in terms of historical chronology. Despite being the third one written, it is a good one to start with if one is first starting the whole series, because this is the book in which St. Germain acquires his bondsman, Roger, who will be a continuing character in the series. The spectacles at the Circus Maximus form a large part of the book, along with the corruption of Roman politics. The book is well titled; there is a great deal of blood and violence both in and out of the arena. Atta Olivia Clemens is the wife of Senator Cornelius Justus Silius, one of the most corrupt and perverse of the Romans. St. Germain rescues her from his cruelties through bringing her "to his life," that is, turning her into a vampire also. Olivia will be a continuing character in the series for another millenium and a half. An epilogue set in the 855th Year of the City gives perspective, and establishes the pattern of letters between Olivia and St. Germain which is used in future books of the series to set the scene and bring us up to date.
Those who already know that they like vampire novels, anything at all that features a vampire, can skip this review, and likewise, those who hate the whole idea of vampires can skip it. But for those trying to decide whether or not to read more of this genre, or whether the one vampire novel you've already read was a fluke, it may help if we have some ways to categorize these novels. Thus: BunRab's Standard Vampire Elements. First, most authors of vampire novels approach from one of the main genres of genre fiction; thus their background may be primarily in romance, or in science fiction/fantasy, or in murder mysteries, or in horror. Second, many vampire novels come in series; knowing whether this is one of a series, and where in the series it falls, may be helpful. Then we have some particular characteristics: - Is the vampire character (or characters) a "good guy" or a "bad guy"? Or are there some of each? - Are there continuing characters besides the vampire, through the series? - Are there other types of supernatural beings besides vampires? - Can the vampire stand daylight under some circumstances, or not stand daylight at all? - Does the vampire have a few other supernatural characteristics, many other supernatural characteristics, or none other than just being a vampire? (E.g., super strength, change into an animal, turn invisible) - Does the vampire have a regular job and place in society, or is being a vampire his or her entire raison d'etre? - Does the vampire literally drink blood, or is there some other (perhaps metaphorical) method of feeding? - Is sex a major plot element, a minor plot element, or nonexistent? - Is the entire vampire feeding act a metaphor for sex, part of a standard sex act, or unrelated to sex? - Is the story set in one historical period, more than one historical period, or entirely in the present day? - Does the story have elements of humor, or is it strictly serious? - Is the writing style good, or is the writing just there to manage to hold together the plot and characters?
Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's series about the vampire St. Germain starts from the historical romance genre, and is a continuing series. St. Germain is definitely a good guy, using the knowledge he's gained in several thousand years of living to help others. There are a few characters that continue from book to book besides him: the women he turns into vampires, and his "servant," Roger, who is a ghoul. Ghouls are the only other supernatural characters who appear in these books. St. Germain can stand daylight with the right preparations. He has unusual strength, but not limitless, and unusual wisdom, and is an "alchemist" but there are no other overt magic powers. In most of the series, he has an occupation of being an aristocrat, insofar as that was a full-time occupation through most of history; in some books he has another "job" as well. St. Germain does not literally drink blood; he feeds on emotions, usually during erotic experiences, but sex is nonetheless only a minor plot element, rare and very discreet. The series covers 3000 years, from ancient Egypt to the modern day; each book is set in a span of a particular period, usually 20-30 years. The writing is serious, but not self-important; the writing quality is excellent, and Yarbro's abilities as an author qualify these books as literature rather than "merely" genre fiction.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent alternative to the Anne Rice books April 14 2003
By William Sugarman - Published on
Though this is not the first in the series, this is a good introduction to Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's great creation, the Comte de Saint-Germain, a noble, a man of righteousness, and - oh, yes - a vampire who has lived, at the time of this tale, for several thousand years.
I had not read any of Yarbro's tales of Saint-Germain for quite a while and it is a pleasure to come back to them. These stories are a worthy alternative to Anne Rice's tales of Lestat, Louis, Armand, and all the other denizens of her dark world. The world of Saint-Germain is much lighter by comparison, and also contains far more action and intrigue than any of Rice's works (with the possible exception of "The Queen of the Damned"). This does not mean I dislike Rice's books. Quite the contrary, in fact - but Yarbro paints a far less shadowy world than Rice does.
Here we meet one of the great loves of Saint-Germain's long life - Atta Olivia Clemens. She has been horribly abused by her husband, a Senator of the Roman Empire around the time of Nero. To call him a pervert is to make light of his atrocities; in addition he has political ambitions that are almost as sickening as his sexual ones. It is this man, Cornelius Justus Silius, who is Saint-Germain's adversary in this novel, although the two of them do not actually do battle in any true sense of the word - and it is their actions against each other, and events related to those actions, which make up the core of this book.
Along the way Yarbro has much to teach us about vampire lore. There is no mention of the use of a cross - but then again, this novel takes place at the time of Nero, and the Christians were just beginning to make themselves noticed at this time. If Yarbro is correct, vampires are apparently more resilient than both Anne Rice and Bela Lugosi would have us believe. They can live in sunlight, provided they are insulated in some manner by their native earth. In the same manner, they can cross running water - something I did not know affected vampires until I read it here. And they can create others of their kind, but not just in the way that Rice describes (I leave it to you to read this book to discover how).
At various points in this story there is also mention of Saint-Germain's past. Some are just vague (but intriguing) hints; others are more explicit. There is also some mention of his birthplace, and I would definitely like to know more about that particular part of the Comte de Saint-Germain. He is such a fascinating individual that I will definitely be buying more of Yarbro's tales, to learn more about this worthy vampire and the worlds (plural intended) he lives in.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A dangerous and compassionate vampire hero Oct. 6 1998
By A Customer - Published on
I had never considered reading a vampire novel until I stumbled across "Blood Games" while searching for novels on ancient Rome. St. Germain's dangerous yet compellingly compassionate character completely drew me into the story and I've since been reading my way through the rest of his history. Ancient Rome's excesses and casual disregard for human life is sharply contrasted with the vampire's compassion and loyalty to the people around him. His essential "humanity" is shown most in his relationship to Olivia, the horrifically abused wife of the villian, who becomes one of the enduring loves of his life. If you've never before considered reading a vampire novel you'll change your mind once you've met St. Germain.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for historical fiction fans July 17 2003
By "tyressia" - Published on
After having been alive for two thousand years, Sanct' Germain finds himself in Rome, at the time of Emperor Nero. In the 7 years that follow, during political and social turmoil, Sanct' Germain meets Atta Olivia Clemens, who is suffering unspeakable torture at the hands of her husband. Together, they save each other through their shared love.
Truly, this book was incredibly well researched. Every detail of life in Rome at that time was impeccable - from the vivid descriptions of arena games, to the imperial plots and political backstabbing, it felt as if I was actually there. I also very much enjoyed the way Yarbro portrayed vampires in her novel. Sanct' Germain was different. He was able to go out in sunlight and cross running water, as long as he took some precautions beforehand. It was also interesting to discover the way he made other vampires... it wasn't what I was expecting. I was fascinated by the way each chapter began with a letter. It gave me a lot more insight into Roman culture than I otherwise could have obtained from just reading the chapters themselves. At times, I found that I looked forward to the letter to come more than the chapter itself!
The writing style flowed beautifully. I was especially amazed by how the dialogue sounded so true. Each time a character spoke it made me feel as if I was listening to a Roman citizen speaking. The story line was fascinating. I found the book an incredible page-turner, and the plot progressed smoothly throughout the novel. I couldn't wait to see what would happen next.
As far as characters go, I really liked Olivia. She had to endure so much at the hands of her husband, and I was in awe of how she was able to handle it as well as she did. She took strength from Sanct' Germain, and managed to continue on, no matter how hard it was for her. I admired the way she lived for those stolen moments, when it could have been so easy for her to give in and perhaps take her own life. I also really liked Sanct' Germain. He was so compassionate, and caring, and strong... admirable qualities in any century. Tishtry was another character I admired. She was very confident in her abilities, and herself. Even though she was a slave, she had a self-respect few people have. Justus, Olivia's husband, was a character I loved to hate. My breathing came just a little faster each time a chapter focused on him. I didn't know what to expect. It's been a long time since I've felt such complete loathing for a literary character.
I found myself thinking about the memorable themes in this novel: mainly, the cruelties of men in the name of power and entertainment. Betrayal, and the way people can mask their evil nature were also major themes. The "unnatural creature" turned out to be much kinder and compassionate than a highly regarded Roman Senator.
Overall, a definite must-read for any historical fiction, or vampire fan.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A crucial book in the St. Germain series Oct. 4 2004
By Patrick Curtin - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I have been reading this line of novels for about five years, and have often had to read them out of sync since they can be very hard to find at the chain stores (and I have no good local stores to go to). I must say that this book should be one of the first that you read if you are beginning the series (which I HIGHLY recommend). The story is set in Nero's Rome and introduces two of Yarbro's main characters (Roger and Olivia) to the story arc. The writing is magnificent, and the attention to detail in the historical background is wonderful. Rome is portrayed as a wonderfully alien place rather than "Americans in Togas" that some historical writers seem to go for. I have a few more Yarbro novels waiting in my read pile now (Thanks Amazon!) and I can't wait to read more.

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