Blood Games Paperback – May 8 1994
|New from||Used from|
No Kindle device required. Download one of the Free Kindle apps to start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, and computer.
Getting the download link through email is temporarily not available. Please check back later.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
About the Author
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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. St. Germain is definitely a good guy, using the knowledge he's gained in several thousand years of living to help others. There are a few characters that continue from book to book besides him: the women he turns into vampires, and his "servant," Roger, who is a ghoul. Ghouls are the only other supernatural characters who appear in these books. St. Germain can stand daylight with the right preparations. He has unusual strength, but not limitless, and unusual wisdom, and is an "alchemist" but there are no other overt magic powers. In most of the series, he has an occupation of being an aristocrat, insofar as that was a full-time occupation through most of history; in some books he has another "job" as well. St. Germain does not literally drink blood; he feeds on emotions, usually during erotic experiences, but sex is nonetheless only a minor plot element, rare and very discreet. The series 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.
I had not read any of Yarbro's tales of Saint-Germain for quite a while and it is a pleasure to come back to them. These stories are a worthy alternative to Anne Rice's tales of Lestat, Louis, Armand, and all the other denizens of her dark world. The world of Saint-Germain is much lighter by comparison, and also contains far more action and intrigue than any of Rice's works (with the possible exception of "The Queen of the Damned"). This does not mean I dislike Rice's books. Quite the contrary, in fact - but Yarbro paints a far less shadowy world than Rice does.
Here we meet one of the great loves of Saint-Germain's long life - Atta Olivia Clemens. She has been horribly abused by her husband, a Senator of the Roman Empire around the time of Nero. To call him a pervert is to make light of his atrocities; in addition he has political ambitions that are almost as sickening as his sexual ones. It is this man, Cornelius Justus Silius, who is Saint-Germain's adversary in this novel, although the two of them do not actually do battle in any true sense of the word - and it is their actions against each other, and events related to those actions, which make up the core of this book.
Along the way Yarbro has much to teach us about vampire lore. There is no mention of the use of a cross - but then again, this novel takes place at the time of Nero, and the Christians were just beginning to make themselves noticed at this time. If Yarbro is correct, vampires are apparently more resilient than both Anne Rice and Bela Lugosi would have us believe. They can live in sunlight, provided they are insulated in some manner by their native earth. In the same manner, they can cross running water - something I did not know affected vampires until I read it here. And they can create others of their kind, but not just in the way that Rice describes (I leave it to you to read this book to discover how).
At various points in this story there is also mention of Saint-Germain's past. Some are just vague (but intriguing) hints; others are more explicit. There is also some mention of his birthplace, and I would definitely like to know more about that particular part of the Comte de Saint-Germain. He is such a fascinating individual that I will definitely be buying more of Yarbro's tales, to learn more about this worthy vampire and the worlds (plural intended) he lives in.
Anyway...back to "Blood Games," and Rome in 65 AD is busy rebuilding after the disaster. Nero, who began his reign with such promise is showing signs of madness in the extreme. During this period a series of treason laws were put to deadly use against anyone considered a threat. These laws are to have devastating consequences for Sanct' Germain and those he holds dear. The back-stabbing, political and literal, has not changed since the days when Julius Caesar said. "Et tu, Brutus?" Our protagonist manages to maneuver through the dangers of life in the Big City, surviving seven emperors in as many years, by being politically savvy and above reproach in his business and social dealings. All this changes when he meets and begins to love Atta Olivia Clemens, the wife of the powerful and corrupt Senator Cornelius Justus Silius. The senator delights in degrading and debasing his wife and there is little Sanct' Germain can do to improve her situation without giving himself away as a vampire with preternatural powers. Sanct' Germain/Ragoczy will bring Olivia into her Unlife during Roman Emperor Vespasian's reign (c.72). She is a recurring character throughout this series. Roger, a former bondsman from Gades, (Cádiz, Spain), is resurrected by Sanct' Germain in 71 AD and is introduced here also. He is another recurring character and serves as Saint-Germain's valet and close friend in future books.
A fascinating subplot involves three of Ragoczy's "slaves:" Aumtehoutep, a Ghoul and former novice of Thoth whom the vampire brought back from near death during the reign of Rameses II; Tishtry an Armenian woman, champion charioteer and horse trainer who volunteers her blood and love; and Kosrozd, formerly a Persian prince, now a renowned charioteer who wins great sums of money for Sanct' Germain. As a result of their roles in the novel, much of the narrative is set in the Circus' Maximus and Flavian, providing terrific action and excitement.
"Blood Games" is the third book published in the series. I believe there are 16 Saint-Germain novels with a 17th due out soon. I began with "The Palace" which is set in Renaissance Florence. "Hotel Transylvania's" setting is Paris, 1743, and this is my third venture into Ms. Yarbro's historical-fiction-supernatural world. Ragoczy/Sanct' Germain is neither Bram Stocker's brand of vampire nor does he resemble Anne Rice's Lestat. He IS a hero, not an anti-hero. You won't find fangs, gore, and horror of the supernatural kind in "Blood Games," although there's more than enough blood and violence caused by humans. Our vampire is an exceptionally nice guy - who just happens to have walked the earth since the beginning of time, practically. He does not personify evil, and, unlike other vampiric creations, he is able to stroll about in daylight as long as he carries soil from his homeland in his shoes. He does need blood to survive - but the human donor must be willing to give a pint or two or he won't drink. And true emotional attachments nourish Sanct' Germain as much as the blood he takes. So the concept of "love" and affection figure strongly here.
I don't know how important it is to read the books in order of publication as the stories do not take place in chronological order historically. The author has done an extraordinary job of vividly portraying life in the first century Rome with its opulence, excesses, and political and social intrigues. Ms. Quinn Yarbro is truly a master at writing historical fiction. Her research is impeccable and the narrative is filled with fascinating period details.
The novel is rich in characters and storyline. I highly recommend it. I liked it enough to order more books in the series. ENJOY!
Truly, this book was incredibly well researched. Every detail of life in Rome at that time was impeccable - from the vivid descriptions of arena games, to the imperial plots and political backstabbing, it felt as if I was actually there. I also very much enjoyed the way Yarbro portrayed vampires in her novel. Sanct' Germain was different. He was able to go out in sunlight and cross running water, as long as he took some precautions beforehand. It was also interesting to discover the way he made other vampires... it wasn't what I was expecting. I was fascinated by the way each chapter began with a letter. It gave me a lot more insight into Roman culture than I otherwise could have obtained from just reading the chapters themselves. At times, I found that I looked forward to the letter to come more than the chapter itself!
The writing style flowed beautifully. I was especially amazed by how the dialogue sounded so true. Each time a character spoke it made me feel as if I was listening to a Roman citizen speaking. The story line was fascinating. I found the book an incredible page-turner, and the plot progressed smoothly throughout the novel. I couldn't wait to see what would happen next.
As far as characters go, I really liked Olivia. She had to endure so much at the hands of her husband, and I was in awe of how she was able to handle it as well as she did. She took strength from Sanct' Germain, and managed to continue on, no matter how hard it was for her. I admired the way she lived for those stolen moments, when it could have been so easy for her to give in and perhaps take her own life. I also really liked Sanct' Germain. He was so compassionate, and caring, and strong... admirable qualities in any century. Tishtry was another character I admired. She was very confident in her abilities, and herself. Even though she was a slave, she had a self-respect few people have. Justus, Olivia's husband, was a character I loved to hate. My breathing came just a little faster each time a chapter focused on him. I didn't know what to expect. It's been a long time since I've felt such complete loathing for a literary character.
I found myself thinking about the memorable themes in this novel: mainly, the cruelties of men in the name of power and entertainment. Betrayal, and the way people can mask their evil nature were also major themes. The "unnatural creature" turned out to be much kinder and compassionate than a highly regarded Roman Senator.
Overall, a definite must-read for any historical fiction, or vampire fan.