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Better in the Dark Hardcover – December, 1993


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 412 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; 1st edition (December 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312855044
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312855048
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,311,974 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Here at last is a long-hinted-at chapter in the undead existence of the immortal Count Saint-Germain: the story of Ranegonda of Saxony, one of the three great loves of Saint-Germain's life. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Set in 10th-century upper Saxony, Germany, this entertaining but uninvolving addition to the Count Saint-Germain series starts with the vampire Saint-Germain shipwrecked and washed ashore near a Germanic keep. He is found there by Ranegonda, the princess of the local castle, who has been in charge--against prevailing custom--since her brother abandoned his post to join a monastery. Cut off from his friend Roger and other potential helpmeets, Saint-Germain is held at the castle until his ransom can be paid (a standard practice of the time). While there, he comes to love Ranegonda and joins her in battle to protect her holdings from the ever more dangerous displaced hordes who threaten the castle. Smooth and well-crafted, the tale showcases Yarbro's eye for historical detail and for bringing the ways, customs and conflicts of another time to life, but the plot is simplistic and predictable. The story lacks the freshness and spark of earlier volumes in the series.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

A professional writer for more than forty years, Yarbro has sold over eighty books, more than seventy works of short fiction, and more than three dozen essays, introductions, and reviews. She also composes serious music. Her first professional writing - in 1961-2 - was as a playwright for a now long-defunct children's theater company. By the mid-60s she had switched to writing stories and hasn't stopped yet.

After leaving college in 1963 and until she became a full-time writer in 1970, she worked as a demographic cartographer, and still often drafts maps for her books, and occasionally for the books of other writers.

She has a large reference library with books on a wide range of subjects, everything from food and fashion to weapons and trade routes to religion and law. She is constantly adding to it as part of her on-going fascination with history and culture; she reads incessantly, searching for interesting people and places that might provide fodder for stories.

In 1997 the Transylvanian Society of Dracula bestowed a literary knighthood on Yarbro, and in 2003 the World Horror Association presented her with a Grand Master award. In 2006 the International Horror Guild enrolled her among their Living Legends, the first woman to be so honored; the Horror Writers Association gave her a Life Achievement Award in 2009.

A skeptical occultist for forty years, she has studied everything from alchemy to zoomancy, and in the late 1970s worked occasionally as a professional tarot card reader and palmist at the Magic Cellar in San Francisco.

She has two domestic accomplishments: she is a good cook and an experienced seamstress. The rest is catch-as-catch-can.

Divorced, she lives in the San Francisco Bay Area - with two cats: the irrepressible Butterscotch and Crumpet, the Gang of Two. When not busy writing, she enjoys the symphony or opera.

Customer Reviews

This particular book is set in the Dark Ages - 937 C.E. (or A.D.), in Europe.
R. Kelly Wagner
It will always be one of my favorite "firsts," having kindled in me a lasting love for the writing of Yarbro, and I highly recommend it.
"quijenjinn"
If you enjoy your vampire fiction fast-paced, brutal, and horrific, this book (and this entire series) are definitely not for you.
James Yanni

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 20, 1998
Format: Paperback
"Better in the Dark" does not have the fast pace that many of the early Saint Germain novels have. However, as any true fan of the deliciously mesmerizing count, I could not put it down. Many will be put off by the historical content and details, but I found that it is those attributes that make Yarbo's books so compelling and realistic. It is a welcome change from the over-done kill/maim, I-want-to-drink-your-blood and oh-do-I-have-a-soul? vampires. Like many Saint Germain fans, I will read any book containing the count that I can get my hands on, and I have never been disappointed. This is no exception.
V. Canfield
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By R. Snare on July 30, 2001
Format: Paperback
Don't let the title, or the awful cover (Who *are* these people? They certainly aren't the characters in the book!), nor the fact that it's a "vampire" novel put you off. This is, quite simply, one of the most enjoyable books I've read this year. Well drawn characters, atmosphere you could cut with a knife, a richly detailed plot, coupled with one of the strongest female leads I've ever encountered in a novel make this for a fantastic read. Add to that a plot which builds to a truly shattering climax and I suspect no purveyor of fine fiction could ever put this book down unsatisfied. While none of Yarbro's Saint-Germain novels are bad, this one stands up and grabs you by the throat, but not in a way so's you'd notice until it's too late. Oh yeah - has one of the most satisfying "just desserts" scenes I've encountered in recent memory.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By R. Kelly Wagner on December 31, 2000
Format: Hardcover
The title of the book comes from a song that St. Germain sings, during an evening of entertainment. The song is from an earlier period in his life - 800 years earlier, in fact - and beautifully, indirectly, describes what we find compelling about vampires. (For my own pleasure, I set it to a tune to sing.)
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 to have some ways to categorize these novels. Thus: BunRab's Standard Vampire Classification Guide. 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?
Read more ›
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Tibor Kun on May 27, 2000
Format: Paperback
Though I was originally drawn to Yarbro's books by my love of vampire lore, I was swept away by her history instead. I love the way she chooses not to show the Christian church in that time as the superstitious religion it then was. Her brutal objectiveness through Saint Germain's character is always refreshing and intelligent, and this book led me to read many more of her novels.
Those who are looking for a quick vampire horror story won't likely appreciate this novel, but those looking for a novel with depth and historical accuracy will no doubt gobble it up and cry out for more! -tk
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 7, 1999
Format: Paperback
I began reading the Saint-Germain novels in the 1970's. Better in the Dark is one of my favorites. Not a typical vampire novel, not a typical horror novel, Yarbro's treatment of the the dead but undying Count is romance in the tradition of Tristan and Isolde, I Claudius and the Lord of the Rings.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By James Yanni on April 27, 2003
Format: Paperback
Or ninth, if you include "Out Of The House Of Life", which is primarily a spinoff novel about Madeline de Montalia, a former lover and vampiric "childe" of Saint-Germain, but does include some flashback scenes to Saint-Germain's early life in ancient Egypt.
Or twelfth, if you include "A Flame in Byzantium", "Crusader's Torch", and "A Candle for d'Artagnan", the spinoff series about Atta Olivia Clemens, an earlier lover and vampiric "childe".
The Saint-Germain series is a series centering on the life of Francois, le Compte de Saint-Germain (at least, that's the name he goes by in France; his name always approximates that in a form not incomprehensible to those speaking the language of the land he resides in at the time), a vampire born something on the order of 2000 years BCE. Each book in the series is a historical novel set in a different time period; this one is set in Saxony (part of what is now Germany) in the mid-900s. Saint-Germain is a rather untraditional vampire, in that he is an unequivocal hero and all-around nice guy; he does not kill when drinking blood, but rather gets the most sustenance from the blood of someone who loves him, knowing what he is and accepting it. As such, most of the books in the series are historical romances of one sort or another; this one is no exception.
If you enjoy your vampire fiction fast-paced, brutal, and horrific, this book (and this entire series) are definitely not for you. If, on the other hand, you enjoy a powerful novel with fascinating characters and excellently researched historical settings, don't object to a good romance with a few tasteful but very powerful sexual scenes, and can tolerate the concept of a heroic vampire as a main character, you'll love most of the books in this series, and this is one of the best of the lot.
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