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3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7 out of 5 stars
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Showing 1-2 of 2 reviews(2 star). Show all reviews
on April 4, 2003
Of the many novels starring the vampire Saint-Germain that Chelsea Quinn Yarbro has written since 1975, this is definitely another one.
Historic setting? Check; the kingdom of Charlemagne (or Karl-lo-Magne) around AD 800. ... male-dominated society and religion full of ignorance, superstition, and pervasive abuse of women? Check. Sensitive, intelligent damsel more than usually distressed by this nasty culture? Check. Reason she's singled out for extra distress? This heroine's both an albino and a stigmatic -- someone who bears spontaneous wounds resembling Christ's in the palms of both hands.
Two main variations in the formula this time around. The romance is so low-key as to be almost non-existent. The 'evil superstitious patriarchal society' plot takes up a correspondingly larger amount of room. In this one, the vampire or the damsel can barely say "please pass the salt" without the remark being construed as treason, heresy, or witchcraft by the uniformly nasty cast surrounding them. Some local peasants whose story parallels the damsel's have no better luck, in spite of being mostly male. As is so often the case in this series, their eventual destruction is the result of an ill-considered charitable act by St. Germain earlier in the book.
Yarbro does do her homework on historical matters. As always, she does an admirable job of evoking of a society unfamiliar to her readers. She describes every single one of them as superstitious, petty, and cruel to women, but at least she doesn't skimp on the details. The other bright spot is the brief return of Olivia, a Roman matron who is one of the hero's former lovers now turned vampire.
If you like the series, you should have no serious gripes with this entry. If not, I wouldn't recommend this book as a starting point.
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on February 14, 2003
Tempted to read Night Blooming and Hotel Transylvania by the reviewers' comments, I was sorely disappointed in these books and the primary character, Saint Germain.
Germain is "supposed" to be a vampire - although it is really hard to tell since the only vampirific tendencies he regularly exhibits are 1) he has a hard time crossing running water, and 2) he has to tuck his native earth into shoes, saddles, and other accoutrements SO THAT HE CAN BE OUT AND ABOUT IN THE SUN.
Come on, I realize vampire characteristics differ - but two things are usually universal 1) vampires drink the blood of the living to continue their existence, and 2) they can be killed by exposure to sun light.
Oddly enough, "Saint" is an excellent title for Germain because he and Mother Theresa could be good friends. Germain travels the earth doing good works. He spends his time helping ladies that he fancies, kings that require advice and counsel, down trodden servants, outcasts of society, and so on. I really don't know why Yarbro bothered to make Germain a vampire - the books would be more interesting if he were a regular person who did these things; because he is supposed to be a vampire, you keep expecting him to do gothic, vampire-like stuff, when he doesn't, he slips into being dull, predictable, and tiresome.
For me, Yarbro's writing style is tedious, vapid, and uninspired. It took me many more days than it should have to read these books because I kept falling asleep. All of the tedium about titles, church minutia, underdeveloped characters, and loose ends ... I was secretly hoping to permanently misplace the books so that I did not have to finish reading them.
I am sorry that this series did not live up to its billing. Since Anne Rice's glory days (I don't count her more recent work to be a part of her stellar past), it is difficult to find engaging vampire fiction. If you are dying to read this series, make certain that you either adjust your expectations about what a vampire is and does or load up on caffeine before you begin.
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