Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's regal vampire Ragoczy, the Count Saint-Germain, crushes our perceptions of the stereotypical bloodsucking, murderous vampire. Unlike his undead brethren Dracula
, Saint-Germain values life, and he is the very paradigm of humanity and tenderness.
In his long and sometimes overwhelmingly lonely life, Ragoczy has lived through France's 14th-century Black Plague (Blood Roses), Ivan the Terrible's bloody reign (Darker Jewels), and the First World War (Writ in Blood). In Communion Blood, Count Saint-Germain travels from Transylvania to Rome to help out a distressed friend. It is the 17th century, a time when the pope had absolute power, and his "Little House," (The Inquisition), was a law unto itself. A vampire would be viewed as the ultimate heretic, but Saint-Germain puts his own fears aside as he offers legal advice and support to his good friend and fellow undead Niklos Aulirios, who is involved in a bitter legal dispute.
For over 1,300 years, Niklos was the faithful manservant of Olivia Clemens, until she died the True Death. Although she bequeathed everything to Niklos in her will, a young German, Ahrent Julius Rothofen, has challenged the will. He claims to be a relative of Olivia's late husband, but the vampires know this "husband" was purely fictitious. Rothofen also happens to be part of Archbishop Siegfried Walmund's entourage, a powerful allegiance of men who use the church to further their political ambitions and personal wealth. These are not men to vex, particularly if one happens to be a vampire.
As she has done so well throughout her series, Yarbro weaves Saint-Germain's personal dramas into a larger historical picture. We learn much about the complicated politics and religious divisions of 17th-century Europe, and we are treated to a fascinating snapshot of the music, arts, and fashions of the era. This is all laced with enough horror, supernatural intrigue, and erotic vampire sex to remind us that Saint-Germain, despite his humanity, is really not of the natural world. --Naomi Gesinger
From Publishers Weekly
The tyranny of the Inquisition in 17th-century Rome leaves no one safe, especially those unfortunate enough to possess property desired by powerful members of the Roman Catholic Church. When she died 30 years ago, Olivia Clemens, an old friend of Yarbro's gentleman-vampire hero the Count Saint-Germain (Writ in Blood, etc.), bequeathed her estate to her loyal servant, Niklos Aurilios. Now Niklos's ownership of the ample lands is threatened by Ahrent Julius Rothofen, a member of Archbishop Siegfried Walmund's entourage. Rothofen claims to be a long-lost son of Olivia's husband, though in fact Olivia had no husbandAbut to reveal that fact would open her life to deeper scrutiny than Niklos and Saint-Germain will allow. Saint-Germain agrees to plead Niklos's case in court. He earns even greater enmity from the clergy when he shelters Cardinal Cavaleria y Vacamonte's runaway sister, who is trying to escape an arranged marriage to the archbishop's pox-ridden brother. While sidestepping threats from his enemies, Saint-Germain finds time to take a lover, the beautiful soprano Giorgianna Ferrugia, and to write her an opera with baroque composer Alessandro Scarlatti. As usual, Saint-Germain's vampirism forms only a minor footnote to the story. Yarbro's painstaking researchAdetailed in author's notesAyields a finely wrought tapestry of lives in grim historical context. The author captures vividly the brutality and greed that powerful Romans hid behind a facade of elegance and piety. Those new to the count, as well as his loyal admirers, will enjoy this richly textured tale of political intrigue spiced with hot blood. (Oct.)
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