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Fifteenth in the "Saint Germain" series.
on March 5, 2004
Or sixteenth, if you count "Out of the House of Life", a spinoff novel mostly about Madeline de Montalia, Saint Germain's lover from the first novel in the series, "Hotel Transylvania", by the time of "House" a vampire in her own right.
Or nineteenth, if you count "A Flame In Byzantium", "Crusader's Torch", and "A Candle For D'artagnan", all centering on the life of Olivia Atta Clemens, his lover from "Blood Games", third in the series, likewise a vampire herself in these stories.
As in all of the books in this series, Saint Germain is an unmitigated hero, gentle, kind, suave, cultured, generous, intelligent, wise. Some readers of vampire fiction don't want their vampires to be good guys; at best, they want engaging bad boys like Anne Rice's "Lestat". At worst, they want ravening demons. If you fall into this category, don't read this book (or any book in this series). You won't get what you're looking for here. In Yarbro's books, the bad guys are generally the political and religious powers that be in the historical periods that she writes about.
Which brings us to one of the most fascinating things about this series: the historical settings. Saint Germain is a vampire who has lived for 4000 years; as such, each novel sets him in a different time period; this one sets him in the court of Charlemagne, circa 800 CE. Don't read these books as vampire fiction; read them as historical romances.
One of the few negative aspects to this series is that regular readers know from earlier-written books set in later historical periods that most of the romances are doomed to tragic endings; if they weren't, the romantic interests would have become vampires, and we'd have seen them or heard them referred to in later-period books. This gets a bit depressing after a while, but is hardly enough to keep the series from being worthwhile.
I would put this book about on a par with "Blood Roses" or "Darker Jewels", not as good as "Writ In Blood" or "Better In The Dark", but better than most of the series.