Customer Reviews: A Coldness in the Blood
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Fred Saberhagen is a remarkably consistent author. And while he is certainly a prolific author, he rarely pushes a book out too soon just to feed his bank account. Two of the many reasons why an alarming amount of my shelf space is dedicated to his work. For people of my generation, he is most noted for the Berserker series, and for his string of novels about Dracula and his relations with Mina Harker and her descendents. This has been a dry season for vampire lovers, so there was much evil cackling and hand rubbing when I discovered that Saberhagen had finally written a new story.
Matthew Maule (AKA Vlad Tepes AKA Dracula) currently maintains an aerie in Chicago which he uses as his principal residence. His 'nephew,' Andy Keogh is instructing the old vampire in the intricacies of websites when they are interrupted by the sudden appearance of Dickon, the world's most cowardly Nosferatu, and his friend Tamarack. Dickon is convinced that someone is out to kill him. For a change, his convictions seem justified. Dickon's residence has just been firebombed, and he, his friend, and a small white statue have come to beg Maule's protection. Shortly thereafter, Dickon is gone, Tamarck is spectacularly dead, the statue is dust, and neither Maule nor Andy has a clue what hit them.
Dracula is furious that his lair could be invaded and his nephew involved. His investigations reveal that half the world seems to be in pursuit of six Egyptian statues (now down to five), one of which has the Philosopher's Stone in it. Among the pursuers is a reborn crocodile creature named Sobek, whose most irritating trait is that he refuses to take the vampire seriously. With five hidden statues, a dozen or so nefarious hunters, a very angry vampire and a host of his 'breather' friends, this is a classic chase setup, and that is exactly what Saberhagen delivers.
This is not Saberhagen's best, but it is so far ahead of the rest of this year's efforts to make it a grand treat. There is no lack of action, but the characters are a bit thin. The author takes it for granted that we have read enough of the series that we won't need much character development, and so errs on the side of sparseness. Andy, who is new, certainly needs much more time, as does Dolores Flamel, daughter of a mage, who plays an extended part. Even so, Saberhagen's trademark style delivers both depth and complexity while making vampires entirely believable. By all means, take the time to enjoy 'A Coldness in the Blood.'
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on October 9, 2002
He has lived for over five centuries by keeping up with technology so Vlad Tepes better known as Dracula and AKA Matthew Maule asks Andy Keogh to help him design a website. Andy, descended from the bloodline of Mina Harker, agrees to help his "Uncle Matt", whom he thinks is human. While at Uncle Matt's apartment, a nosferatu named Dickon, along with a human, ask for Vlad to help in their quest for learning alchemy.

Someone puts a spell over everyone in the apartment and when Dracula awakens, Dickon is gone, the human is dead, Andy is dazed and an Egyptian statue is smashed. The next day Sobeck, a being once worshipped by the Egyptians as a God, confronts Matthew Maule. He wants the Philosopher's Stone, a magical artifact hidden in one of six small statues smuggled into the country. Dracula declines to help but Andy becomes involved when Dickon asks his dead partner's granddaughter Dolly to assist him. Andy's father and Uncle Matt search for the Philosopher's Stone while trying to keep Andy and Dolly out of danger. Thy also hope to send Sobeck back where he belongs.

It's been six long years since Fred Saberhagen has written a Dracula book but the wait was well worth it. His eighth installment in this series is imaginative, colorful and sometimes even quirky. Dickon is comic relief as a millennium old vampire afraid of his own shadow. The race for the Philosopher's Stone is filled with action and adventure as the protagonists keep running head long into villains coveting the same artifact.

Harriet Klausner
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on December 17, 2011
I only recently finished reading The Dracula Sequence book series by Fred Saberhagen and I think I have grown to adore his version of Dracula. My only regret in regard to these books is that I only recently started reading these books and sadly the author, Fred Saberhagen, passed away in 2007. I wish I had discovered these books while he was still alive. Also, it's very apparent to me that he did not mean for this book series to end where they did. The book series is clearly unfinished.
His first book in the series begins with the novel The Dracula Tape which is a very tongue in cheek re-telling of the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker but from Dracula's point of view. Some of his justifications for the events are somewhat... questionable, such as his claim that what happened on the Demeter was the result of the first mate going insane because he thought a vampire was on board. Okay, so the first mate went insane and caused everything but... the cause of his insanity was true... there was a vampire on board... Then there's his claim that his relationship with Lucy was casual and consensual. But in the next breath he admits she thought it was all a dream. So, yes. Our narrator is not exactly honest and sometimes you have to read between the lines to catch the truth. He leaves out the details he doesn't like, apparently lies, and slants things to the way he wants to remember them. But for all his flaws you start to like Saberhagen's Dracula. He's no Edward Cullen. He doesn't lament being a vampire. He's proud of what he is and has a very strong, personal sense of honor. It also has a very satisfying ending for those who love the idea of Mina and Dracula as a couple, without actually re-writing the ending of Stoker's novel.
The one thing I dislike is that Dracula's only real vulnerability in these books is wood. The reasoning given is that like a vampire wood is something that was once alive and transformed into something new.

The second book in the series is called The Dracula - Holmes file. This story starts with Dracula roaming Victorian London, shortly after the events of Dracula. He accidentally gets involved in a very disturbing case with Sherlock Holmes, who actually resembles Dracula, himself.

The Third book in the series called Old Friend of the Family, serves as a sort of glue linking the literary Dracula to the modern world through his connection to Mina's family. In this novel Mina's descendants are desperate for aide when young Johnny Southerland (the youngest of her line at this point) is kidnapped and his pinky fingers have been viciously torn off. The family, in desperation, use a spell left by "Grandma Mina" to summon help, at which point Dracula (under the alias Dr. Corday) turns up and becomes self-appointed guardian of Mina's family. And it becomes strangely satisfying when Dracula takes brutal revenge for what was done to poor Johnny. He even brutally mangles one of the kidnappers. You find yourself starting to root for him, despite his viciousness. He is a fantastic anti-hero.
This book also introduces us to Joseph Koegh, who marries into the Southerland family (descendants of Mina and Jonathan Harker). Joe becomes a private investigator and recurring character in the series and he serves as a good counter balance to our not-always-nice narrator.

The fourth book of the series is Thorn. In this book Dracula is attempting to win (at auction) a painting of his own "deceased" second wife from his mortal life only to find himself involved in a strange mystery that may involve his own half-vampire wife from his mortal life. The quality of the book series starts to slide a little bit here and the story alternates between the modern setting and the past. It actually has the feel of an episode of Forever Knight (The Canadian Vampire TV series from the early nineties). The best part of this book has to be Dracula's temper tantrum near the end of the book where Mina herself (now a vampire) shows up to warn one of the main protagonists not to go near him until it was over because of how dangerous he could be when angry. It was disturbing and amusing all at once. But considering what happened to lead to the tantrum it was completely understandable. Dracula and his lover were both blown up in a car. He survived by turning into mist and narrowly escaping. The woman was badly mangled to the point that she couldn't even ingest Dracula's blood to be transformed into a vampire and so she died in agony in his arms... which lead to a monstrous, probably warrented, vampire temper tantrum from Dracula.

The fifth book in the series is probably my least favorite. This one is called Dominion and deals with magick and Merlin himself (who has been wandering the streets under a curse that has left him an incompetent drunk...) Fred Saberhagen is not very good at describing magick. It's disjointed, hallucinogenic and a little incoherent. Fred Saberhagen can describe vampire powers fairly well but not generic magick or time travel very well. The best part though has to be when Dracula is tossed up into a whirlwind that tumbles him around through time, by an angry Merlin, who doesn't realize Dracula is actually on his side.

The sixth book in the series is a good one. This one is called A Matter of Taste. In this book it's revealed that the historical rogue Ceasar Borgia became a vampire and now wants revenge on Dracula (for something our narrator claims was accidental but that's debatable considering our narrator isn't very honest...) Dracula ends up poisoned and now it's up to Mina's human descendants to protect him while he is vulnerable. Meanwhile the now adult Johnny Southerland (the one Dracula saved in Old Friend of The Family) has to find a way to explain to his future wife that his "Uncle Matt" is not only a vampire but THE Dracula. The ending is surprisingly endearing and sweet.
In this book we learn that Dracula has a clever way of compensating for not having a reflection. He has replaced his bathroom mirror with a flat screened closed circuit television with a continual live feed of whatever is in front of it.

The seventh book of the series is one of the two I don't care much for. The other is Dominion. In this one, called A Question of Time, a lot of time travel happens and as I discussed before, Fred Saberhagen is not very good at writing magick or time travel. This particular book has no real impact on the majority of the series and I don't feel it was necessary in the grand scheme of things.

The eighth book of the series is called Seance for a vampire. And yet again our "Hero" makes some questionable decisions, such as wanting to seduce a young Medium whose brother has just been killed, But he was "considerate enough" to wait a night or so after the brother's death to seduce her. This was a fairly interesting one but the one thing about the book I don't care for is Fred Saberhagen sometimes puts his own opinion into the character. For example he has Dracula feel that all Mediums are frauds. He does not believe in ghosts. He believes in magick, time travel, spells, wizards, vampires, werewolves, and even karma but ghosts is the thing Dracula doesn't believe in? I don't buy it. It just doesn't make sense to me. This book deals with the historical Rasputin and is another cross over with Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.

The ninth book of the series is A Sharpness on the Neck and here Fred Saberhagen seems to poke fun of himself a bit, poking fun of how "Mr. Graves" (Another alias for Dracula) shifts from third person perspective to first person perspective. And it also pokes fun at how boring and long winded he can be when explaining things to people. In this story we learn that Radu (Dracula's vampire brother) wants a man named Phillip Radcliffe dead as revenge against his ancestor. It's up to Dracula and a masked band of helpers (Mna's human descendants) to save them.
The story alternates with the past, particularly The French revolution, and the present day. There are subtle nods to A Tale of Two Cities and The Scarlet Pimpernel. At one point Dracula disguises himself as an executioner (and actually carries out several executions) to save a man he is honor-bound to protect.
The funniest part of this book is when Dracula makes a three to five hour long video tape of himself sitting at a desk explaining the back story and the people who are being made to watch the video find it boring and even try fast forwarding it. At one point he even enthralls them to watch it and they still fall asleep about five minutes into it.
Little things are there to remind you of the viciousness of our protagonist. Even though he goes out of his way to try to rescue a little girl at one point, he still mangles a group of vampires who side with his brother Radu, thralls animals to remain still so a little boy can kill them with his mini guillotine, and carries out executions he doesn't even really agree with. He also mentions beating his brother with a wooden cane and tells us that his brother only cried out in pain to "annoy" him. He is... still... Dracula.

The Tenth book in the series is called A coldness in the blood and deals with a self-proclaimed Egyptian deity and a quest to find the Philosopher's Stone. A serious and not-quite resolved strain is put on "Uncle Mathew" (Dracula) and his relationship with Mina's human family (who he's been more or less stalking ever since the book Old Friend of the Family, set twenty years earlier...) The strain comes when Andy (Joe's son) goes to Uncle Matt's apartment to put together a website for him. While there he gets unintentionally wrapped up into the chaotic adventure which subsequently leads to Andy's mother forbidding him from ever helping Uncle Matt with his computer and or going to his apartment again. I can't help but feel sorry for Dracula here because he's clearly grown attached to these people that he has made himself protector of and it's apparent they're all still quite afraid of him. Well, I suppose I'd be a little nervous too if Dracula decided to become my guardian Angel but I've grown to like the guy.
Dracula has been trying very hard to get others to adopt the term Hmo-dirus or Homo-sapien-dirus as a subspecies title for Vampire or as he says Nosferatu. ...It doesn't seem to catch on.
The one thing I dislike about this novel is yet again, like with ghosts in Seance for a vampire, Fred Saberhagen puts his own views in Dracula and it doesn't make much sense that a man from fifteenth century Romania would have issues with a young man having an earring and yet he does. And the author goes out of his way to have multiple characters unrealistically hate the earring, including even a very young character named Dolly. Since when does Dracula have a 1950s middle America mind-set about Jewelry? It doesn't fit.

In any event it's obvious here that this was not meant to be the last book of the series. And it's disappointing to know the book series never truly will be completed since the author passed away.

There are two short stories set in the world of The Dracula Sequence but I haven't had the chance to read those yet.

For anyone who misses vampires who could be terrifying and charming, charismatic yet violent, and not sparkly, I strongly, strongly recommend these books. I think this book series is highly under-rated and Fred Saberhagen's version of Dracula has become one of my favorite literary characters.

The books are all told from Dracula's point of view. The book series inspired certain aspects of the Gary Oldman Dracula movie. And it's really, really under-rated.

The Dracula Tape - Which retells Dracula from Dracula's point of view.
The Holmes-Dracula File - A cross over with Sherlock Holmes.
An Old Friend of the Family - Mina's descendants are forced to summon Dracula for help.

Thorn - Every other chapter deals with Dracula's mortal second wife.

Dominion - A cross over with King Arthur. (I'm not a fan of this one.)

From the Tree of Time - A short story available in the book Gaslight Arcanum. This is another Sherlock cross over.
A Matter of Taste - This one deals with Dracula and The Borgias and what happened the night Dracula became a vampire.

A Question of Time - An odd time travel one. (I didn't care for this one.)

Seance for a Vampire - Another Sherlock cross over.

A Sharpness on the Neck - Deals with Dracula's brother Radu returned as a vampire.
Box Number Fifty - A short story (and a really good one at that) in the book Dracula in London.

A Coldness in the Blood - Sadly the last book in the series and deals with the philosopher's stone. Fred Saberhagen died before he could write another after this.
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on February 2, 2004
I was able to read _A coldness in the blood_ in one 3.5-hour sitting... it's a bit formulaic, but is more consistently written than some of Saberhagen's other Dracula books, which I feel suffer from bad editing. the story timeline is kept in the modern day without a parallel historical fiction accompanying it. I enjoyed the read immensely; the pace was consistent and the descriptions tight. I think the biggest drawback is that it so persistently refers back to all the prior books in the series that I sometimes felt I was reading a sales pitch. the backreferences are funny, in some cases better written than the books to which he referred.
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on September 6, 2012
Actually this was my first read of this book. I read the first in this series back in the 70's. The Dracula Tapes was its title and the books following it were always fun and interesting to read. This book is in the same mold [note my refusal to say same vein]. Anyone who grew up reading Dracula will love this series.

PS I wish Amazon would do what Audible Books does and lists he series and the placement of the books in the series.
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on October 15, 2013
This series is so-so, and this is not one of the better ones. The settings do not suit the protagonist. The supporting characters are boring. The references to Merlin and an earlier book are jarring. Although Saberhagen does get points for unusual creativity on the villain.
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on October 5, 2014
this series was so good. my only regret is that it is over.
to bad the author did not continue the series, or at least one more book.
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on June 16, 2013
love Saberhagen, all his stories are very well written, fun to read, Love his take on Dracula, written from view of Dracula
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on January 3, 2014
I like the story. His take on Dracula is interesting. Started with Old Friend of the Family an was hooked.
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