Borne in Blood: A Novel of the Count Saint-Germain Hardcover – Dec 10 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
If Anne Rice is the celebrity journalist of vampires, Yarbro is their domestic chronicler. The meticulous 20th entry in her Count Saint-Germain saga (after 2006's Roman Dusk) finds her 4,000-year-old hero in the Swiss countryside of 1817, helping the struggling locals recover from the Napoleonic wars and severe winters. By this period, Saint-Germain is a cultured and compassionate figure, occupied with the spread of knowledge through publishing and the child custody struggles of his lover, Hero Corvosaggio. His greatest threats come from discharged soldiers turned bandits and an abused debutante turned murderer, whose blood-obsessed guardian he lectures on the difference between heredity and destiny. Monsters are made, he knows, not born. Yarbro piles on the historical detail, giving an intimate look at the households of early 19th-century Europe and the commerce and travels of its inhabitants. Letters, with headnotes on their delivery methods and times, litter the text, adding to the period feel. Intimate, too, describes Saint-Germain and Hero, whose relationship is explored in fine-grained emotional as well as physical terms.
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Top Customer Reviews
Educational,fascinating and enjoyable. The best author of Vampire novels yet.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Sure you have. Except for its setting it is exactly like all previous Saint-Germain novels. Same oppressed damsel in distress, same altruistically rescuing yet personally imperiled alchemist-vampire count, same resolution, even several lines more or less lifted from past exploits in this decades-long series. As I've said before, Ms. Yarbro definitely needs to vary her plots. (Her stories need new blood, ha-ha.)
The reason I keep reading her books is for the fact that few other fiction writers active today can match her ability to truly give the past so much multi-dimensional clarity. When you read her works you come away knowing almost everything about a time period. You know what challenges people of the age had to overcome in order to survive, you know what they were thinking, what frightened them, what they hoped to achieve, what they ate, drank, wore, believed, what was happening in the world in terms of climate. When you read a Saint-Germain book you even come away understanding what a particular time and place smelled like. All that is brilliant. It is so brilliant, in fact, that it pardons much that is less impressive about Quinn's novels, and has kept me reading for many years now when I've sometimes wondered if I shouldn't abandon the series.
I have asked before, though, why does this author have so much difficulty in varying her plots? They are all as formulaic as A+B=C. Every time! I'm not joking. In every novel it's: unjustly tormented women meets heroic vampire figure who delivers her from evil. End of story. And this book was no exception. Surely someone with Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's creativity and intellect knows this about her books, so why can't she make things a little different?
I did enjoy Borne In Blood's setting, its exploration of emerging modern science, the lengths to which Napoleon Bonaparte was deservedly vilified for the ongoing disastrous impact his megalomaniacal ambitions had on Europe long after he himself was dead, and it was also nice to check in on old friends and see, well, what the heck the Count was up to in the 1810's.
I'm not emptily picking on this author. Ms. Yarbro can write. She also utilizes her exhaustive research well in weaving her stories. If only I could find some variety in her plotlines, I'd hail her as a genius, instead of a fine historian masquerading only moderately successfully as a novelist.
About 3 ½ stars, mostly because she does history so well.
The life of Count Saint Germain is extraordinary. This time, Yarbro sets our sights on the Swiss countryside of 1817. Culturally speaking, the Swiss population is recovering from the Napoleonic wars and very severe weather. By this time period, the printing industry had advanced, and guided by 3800 years of `living' behind him, his wisdom has now firmly been established and now he is able to help spread his knowledge through publishing. His lover, Hero Corvosaggio, was widowed by Napoleon and their 2 sons are being raised by their grandfather. Hero, is a tragic figure, haunted by the loss of her prestige and sons, and yet buoyed by her love for the Count. While this personal relationship blooms, Saint Germain becomes intrigued with Graf Von Ravensbergs' research into blood. Clearly fascinated with the results, Saint Germain keeps abreast amidst the romantic interest of Hyacinthe in him. Love triangles can be dangerous, especially when a vampire is involved and mental instability characterizes Hyacinthe.
Like any Saint Germain book, Yarbro has included details that create a `been there' atmosphere. Her research into what actually occurred in a household of that time is extensive and help create an intimacy with the locale. Even the correspondence has the feel of just having been delivered by courier. The Saint-Germain chronicles are more romance than vampire fiction, and it is perhaps that element that is their genius. Why would an `immortal' just exist to drink blood and spread a curse? Over the course of an average life, knowledge and wisdom are copious, how more so over millennia?
To say this is `just' another novel would be not enough. Come, enter into the world of 1817, and the existence of Saint Germain, one more time.
Written on a number of levels, historical, romance and horror, it illuminates a period of St Germaine's life previously hinted at in previous works by the author, and referencing previous works.
Definitely a must have.
The ending was predictable, but that didn't bother me. As I said in the beginning, the count seems like an old friend, and I don't always want to see him battered at the end of the book.