Top positive review
20 people found this helpful
on November 13, 2002
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.'