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Crusader's Torch (Olivia) Mass Market Paperback – 1989


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback
  • Publisher: Tor Books (1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812501780
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812501780
  • Product Dimensions: 17.3 x 10.9 x 3.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 272 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,253,240 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Or second in the "Olivia" series, depending on how you look at it.
For those unfamiliar with the series, the Saint-Germain series is a series of historical "horror" novels (although the horror element is tenuous at best, based purely on the fact that the main characters are vampires, and "vampire fiction" is considered a subgenre of "horror fiction"; actually, "historical romance" is closer to accurate) in which the main character is the vampire Saint-Germain, who has lived as a vampire since roughly 1500-2000 BCE. In this book, however, as in the last, the main character is Atta Olivia Clemens, who as a lover of Saint-Germain's, became a vampire when she died, back in the time of Nero in Imperial Rome (in the third book of the series, "Blood Games").
This book is set in the late twelfth Century, during the time of the third Crusade.
As with "A Flame In Byzantium", the previous book featuring Olivia as the main character, I found this book somewhat disappointing, mainly because Olivia's power as a vampire is radically downplayed. Mostly, the only indication we have of her vampiric nature is her disabilities: her susceptability to light and water, her inability to eat normal food, etc. Her power is DISCUSSED, but never seen. Granted, there are more episodes in this book than in the last in which she is shown acting intrepidly, but never really in any way that could not have been accomplished by a reasonably heroic mortal woman. In the books that feature Saint Germain, we invariably see him demonstrating surprising power for his diminutive frame, or in some other way showing the reader his vampiric power (always subtly enough not to tip his hand to other characters, of course.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 6 reviews
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
even a lesser story in this series is still a good read Jan. 1 2001
By R. Kelly Wagner - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book is part of a series about an almost-immortal vampire, Olivia Clemens; Olivia's stories are a spin-off from Yarbro's main series about the vampire St. Germain. 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. Olivia, the heroine of this book, is a woman of ancient Rome whom St. Germain has turned into a vampire; this book is one of several written about her rather than about St. Germain. St. Germain and Olivia are definitely good guys, using the knowledge they've gained in hundreds of years of living to help others. There are a few characters that continue from book to book besides these two. Ghouls are the only other supernatural characters who appear in these books. Olivia can stand daylight with the right preparations. She has unusual strength, but not limitless, and unusual wisdom, but there are no other overt magic powers. Olivia has an occupation of being an aristocrat and landowner, insofar as that was a full-time occupation through most of history. Yarbro's vampires do not literally drink blood; they feed on emotions, usually during erotic experiences, but sex is nonetheless only a minor plot element, rare and very discreet. The series as a whole 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.
Crusader's Torch is set in 1189 C.E., more than a millenium after Olivia has first entered the life of a vampire. The scenes include the Middle East during one of the Christian Crusades; the orders of the Knights Hospitaler and Knights Templar are major players in the story. The gist of the story is Olivia's struggle to get out of Tyre and back to Rome. Women are not held in high regard in this period, and Olivia's independence offends a highly placed Hospitaler; among the "good guys" are a Templar who gets thrown out of his order on suspician of leprosy. We catch a glimpse of an offshoot Christian sect, as we do in some of the other St. Germain novels, one based on absolute love and acceptance. Someday I would like to see Yarbro write an alternate history in which that is the main path the Catholic Church took... meanwhile, the details of sin and penance as conceived of in the 12th century provide a story that everyone who likes the series will enjoy, and those who haven't read the rest of the series will nonetheless find this a fine historical novel.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Eighth in the Saint- Germain series. Oct. 16 2002
By James Yanni - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Or second in the "Olivia" series, depending on how you look at it.
For those unfamiliar with the series, the Saint-Germain series is a series of historical "horror" novels (although the horror element is tenuous at best, based purely on the fact that the main characters are vampires, and "vampire fiction" is considered a subgenre of "horror fiction"; actually, "historical romance" is closer to accurate) in which the main character is the vampire Saint-Germain, who has lived as a vampire since roughly 1500-2000 BCE. In this book, however, as in the last, the main character is Atta Olivia Clemens, who as a lover of Saint-Germain's, became a vampire when she died, back in the time of Nero in Imperial Rome (in the third book of the series, "Blood Games").
This book is set in the late twelfth Century, during the time of the third Crusade.
As with "A Flame In Byzantium", the previous book featuring Olivia as the main character, I found this book somewhat disappointing, mainly because Olivia's power as a vampire is radically downplayed. Mostly, the only indication we have of her vampiric nature is her disabilities: her susceptability to light and water, her inability to eat normal food, etc. Her power is DISCUSSED, but never seen. Granted, there are more episodes in this book than in the last in which she is shown acting intrepidly, but never really in any way that could not have been accomplished by a reasonably heroic mortal woman. In the books that feature Saint Germain, we invariably see him demonstrating surprising power for his diminutive frame, or in some other way showing the reader his vampiric power (always subtly enough not to tip his hand to other characters, of course.) And certainly, Yarbro paints Olivia as a sufficiently independant-minded and resourceful woman that one cannot easily accuse her of the intention of writing female characters that are helpless damsels waiting to be rescued. So the question is: WHY do we never get to see Olivia use the "exceptional strength" that we keep hearing that she has? Just as it has been, in previous books, quite cathartic to see short, dapper Saint Germain beat the stuffing out of, say, five proto-Nazis each of whom had eight inches and eighty pounds on him, in this book there were several situations in which it would have been quite satisfying to see Olivia do something similar, and it could easily enough have been arranged. Instead, the author very carefully arranges the circumstances so that when Olivia has to fight, it is without the advantage of her powers. Just once, I'd like to see her demonstrate the ADVANTAGES of being a vampire.
This is a well-written book, excellent if what you want is a historical novel of the time period. But as a vampire novel, it's more than a little bit lacking.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Good Book, Great Characters Feb. 9 2004
By M. D. Thomas - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I must start this review by stating that I haven't read any other works by Ms. Yarbro. I enjoyed this book very much and thought the main character Olivia was done wonderfully. The action and the struggle with the Knight Hospitlar's lust and feelings for the vampire were tastefully written. I was easily taken up in the story and enjoyed Olivia's personality, wishing for her to get safely to Rome. I wish that I hadn't picked this book up at random and knew more of the background. Even though I was essentially reading mid-story I enjoyed this book a lot. Olivia is not your typical vampire and I wouldn't classify this book as horror at all. It was nice historical fiction. Olivia is an intelligent woman with a fascinating personality. The world around her is in total chaos and she longs to return home. Her trip home and entanglements with the Knight Hospitlar and others made for a quick and enjoyable read. I will look forward to reading more of Ms. Yarbro's books in the near future.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
the novel was well researched and written. Sept. 29 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The novel was different from many horror novels which I have read. The historical prespective was an interesting theme thru out the novel. I found myself wanting to find the first novel and read it prior the Crusader's novel. I recommend the book to those who enjoy Taylor Caldwell with a taste of the dark side added to it! The vampire is not evil and the ole legends are not necessarily found to be true in this novel. However, it is a refreshing answer to see vampires protrayed as something more than blood sucking dead.
Crusader's Torch, before Vampire romances were cool, there was Olivia May 19 2014
By ACBarry - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Chelsea Quinn Yarbro is effectively writing alternative history novels with vampires. She has carefully and painstakingly researched her setting and made enjoyable and believable characters. I was really impressed by this novel the first time I read it and it drew me into her series quite well.

You do not need to have read her other works to read this story. And if you like Arthurian tales and knights, you might really enjoy this more real-world look at the knights of the crusades. Olivia herself is a vampire from ancient Rome. You very much feel her frustration from being a woman of power to having to live under the strict confinement of the rules for the behavior of women in the Middle Ages.

This is nothing like Twilight or most other vampire tales where the vampires say they are hundreds of years old but seem to have no signs of the skills or attitudes of such times. Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's vampires show how hundreds of years of planning go into creating safe houses, selecting positions that are high but not too high, and how war upsets even a vampire's carefully laid plans. If you love the vampire genre, but feel like you've seen all there is to offer in it, try Crusader's Torch. It's a heavier read, but well worth the journey.

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