Top positive review
The triumphant third book in the Laws of the Blood series
on April 12, 2004
The first two books in Susan Sizemore's Laws of the Blood series are quite good, but Companions is really something special. The dual protagonists are as dynamic as they are fascinating, the expanded commentary on Sizemore's unique fictional universe of vampires and companions is impressive and illuminating, and the action-packed storyline is a true page-turner. Mention of Istvan has been made in the previous books - whispers of his unparalleled prowess among the Enforcers of the vampire laws - and I must say he lives up to his reputation in spades. In Companions, we learn his remarkable story, but even Istvan, with all of his might, wisdom, and power, pales somewhat in comparison to Selena, the most unusual of vampire companions.
Istvan is a dhampir born over five centuries ago - he actually worked for Count Dracula for awhile. He hates vampires and has killed many over the centuries; even though he was turned into a vampire himself (a dangerous mistake rectified in the laws soon thereafter - there is no more formidable vampire killer than a dhampir who has been turned) and works ceaselessly to defend vampire law, he has always kept himself apart from a traditional vampire lifestyle. That includes the taking of a companion, a practice virtually all vampires engage in. A bit of deception, though, brought him together with Selena Crawford two years earlier; he has fought the bloodbond that was forged between the two, however, and pretty much left Selena alone. She herself both hates and likes the situation; while she wants nothing to do with Istvan, the bloodbond is a powerful force that cannot be defeated by even the strongest of personalities - and Selena happens to have one of the strongest personalities you will ever encounter.
Now, Enforcer and companion are brought together once again, however, in the search for a vampire killer roaming the streets of Chicago. Selena is a homicide detective, but she knows that a beheaded vampire dumped in an alley falls under a very different jurisdiction than her own. While the local enforcer Ariel and eventually Istvan take over the "case," Selena does plenty of work on her own, identifying the killer and, blaming a particularly despicable vampire for indirectly causing all the trouble, takes the initiative to do something about the evil perp. Companions are not supposed to even know of each other's existence across the different cities of the world, yet there is a cybersecret support group for them, and this connection with others like herself provides Selena the support she needs to stage a mini-revolution among the ranks. In essence, she takes on the role of Enforcer among vampire companions.
The story of the killings and the thrilling conclusion of events makes for an engaging read, but it is the relationship between Istvan and Selena that makes this book such a triumph. Selena does not act like a companion; while the heat of the bloodbond keeps driving her and Istvan together in the most physical of ways, she refuses to fawn upon him or allow his actions to go unchallenged. This both antagonizes as well as delights the chief Enforcer of them all. Their sporadic relationship is remarkably human in several ways, boasting the kind of give-and-take you won't find elsewhere in the vampire world. Heck, she even tries to kill Istvan a couple of times, and that is something companions are really not supposed to do. You'll find a lot of humor in these pages alongside plenty of vampire action, but the heart and soul of Companions is the amazingly nontraditional relationship between vampire and companion. If you are tired of the same old vampire plots of old, you would do well to give Susan Sizemore a chance to impress you with her increasingly beguiling reworking of the vampire myth.