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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.
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on November 10, 2002
This is one of the most popular vampire series on the market - and it's very existence flies in the face of common editorial wisdom. I know because I've sold a number of novels, including a vampire romance coming out in 2003, Those of My Blood, and the vampire related novels of Sime Gen such as The Unity Trilogy ASIN 1592220037.
Most professional editors will tell you that if you want to sell a book to an editor, you can't mix your genres. And if the publisher has any hope of selling to a wide audience, you really really must never ever mix genres.
Well, The Chronicles of Saint-Germain are Vampire-Romance-Historical-Feminist psycho-drama, as Those of My Blood and Sime Gen are also mixed genre.
Yarbro has blended the twenty-first century's terse style with that antique style of words for their own sake, images described for 10 pages in paragraphs two pages long, words and words and words that just ripple across the senses for the sake of evocation of strange places in the minds of those who have never been 20 miles from their birthplace and never met anyone they haven't known all their lives. Yarbro evokes that wordy style without a spare word anywhere.
Relying on the reader's modern experience, Yarbro transports us to "there and then" by capturing the attitudes and ideas, the viewpoints of those who lived in such a world.
These novels have no action. Even when the characters are running for their lives, there's nothing resembling the kind of "action" you see on tv or in films.
But you know what? That's exactly why I love them! How refreshing! A real, complex, deep, rich story told without depending on fight scenes the way "Walker, Texas Ranger" does. Yarbro uses plenty of danger, threats that materialize, angst,and conflict to give us insights into how our culture has become what it is today.
I've done a long review of Night Blooming in my review column focusing on how perfectly the story of Gynethe Mehaut, a woman who is a totally passive victim of her life, time and circumstances reveals the full complexity of the definition of Enemy. She's an albino raised by Nuns, and has accepted a life of nothing but penitential prayer. Then the Church investigates why her hands bleed with stigmata reminiscent of Christ's wounds. She is sent from convent to convent and eventually to Charlemagne's court.
She has solid emotional defenses against the life she's caught in -- until Saint Germain introduces her to the delights of the body. At one point, he uses a length of silk to pleasure her -- and offers her entre into his "life." Shortly after that, she's tortured. It seemed to me that because he broke down her inner defenses, the torture was hundreds of times worse for her than it would have been.
For the torture scenes alone, Night Blooming is a stunning achievement of the writer's craft. But aside from that, the book reveals the full meaning of the casual references sprinkled in some of the other St. Germain novels about the time Saint Germain was at Charlemagne's court.
If this is your first Saint Germain novel, I don't think you'll be able to rest without reading the others. Like watching just one episode of Forever Knight - it leaves you tantalized by so many questions.
Live Long and Prosper,
Jacqueline Lichtenberg
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on October 12, 2002
In 796 Gaul, Karl-lo-Magne (Charlemagne) has summoned Europe's finest minds to attend him in an attempt to resurrect the Roman Empire. Karl-lo-Magne discusses rare maps with one of the scholars, Rakoczy, whose vast knowledge and strange practices makes His Highness question what the Count is, but he still bestows favors and property on the "foreigner".
Nearby at about the same time, albino Gynethe Mehaut visits a convent seeking help with her constant bleeding palms. The local church is divided between her representing divine benediction and the Antichrist. Proving his leadership ability by placing the monkey on someone else's shoulders, Karl-lo-Magne dispatches Rakoczy to escort Gynethe to the Vatican so Pope Leo III will have to deal with the problem. As the duo travels south avoiding sunlight for different reasons, they form a deep passion for one another, but to save her life, Rakoczy must defy the two most powerful mortals in the world: the monarch and the pope.

As expected with a Count Rakoczy novel, the astute historical background provides a powerful opportunity for the audience to luxuriate in a bygone era. The story line is typical of the long running series yet grips the audience with the feel of the battle for supremacy between the monarch and the pope mostly through the perceptions of the traveling couple. Fans of Chelsea Quinn Yarbro and those newcomers who delight in a historical compassionate vampire tale will want to read NIGHT BLOOMING, a robust end of the Dark Ages tale that showcases Rakoczy in top form because his companion brings out the best in him.

Harriet Klausner
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on October 23, 2002
Another excellent C.Q.Yarbro novel with Saint-Germain as the lead chacter. For those of you who are new to Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's much beloved vampire, fear not-this novel will bring you up to speed on our hero, his very long life and his rather unique "needs". (and I am not just talking blood!!)
I was struck by the sad tone of the novel. Saint-Germain often laments on how lonely his life is and this novel definely drives that point home. Gynethe Mehaut truely is a lost soul that Saint-Germain fights Heaven and Earth for. A very disturbing and gripping ending to this well written and researched novel.
A definate "must read" novel.
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on March 2, 2016
An adventure of the Vampire Count Saint-Germain with great historical period detail.
Educational,fascinating and enjoyable.
The best author of Vampire novels yet.
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