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A Taint in the Blood: A Novel of the Shadowspawn Hardcover – Bargain Price, May 4, 2010


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Product Details

  • Series: Novel of the Shadowspawn (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Roc Hardcover (May 4, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451463412
  • ASIN: B0042P56ZI
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,655,686 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Stirling (The Sword of the Lady) launches a new series with a messy and unappetizing mix of well-worn monster tropes and excessive sexual violence. The ancient, powerful, and sociopathic Shadowspawn have always lived among (and interbred with) humans. When Adrian Brézé, the one Shadowspawn capable of resisting his violent urges, discovers that his ex, Ellen, has been kidnapped by his evil twin sister, Adrienne, he begins a war against his own kind. Adrienne repeatedly rapes Ellen, who endures using psychological techniques she developed during childhood abuse, as she prepares her own political machinations. Stirling hits just about every cliché, from the grizzled vampire hunter and mentor to Adrienne's pathologically devoted servants (who call themselves lucies and renfields). Stirling's prose is competent, but there's nothing new in his story, and few readers will have the stomach for the over-the-top sadism. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

With this book, Stirling starts a new series about the presence of werewolves, or Shadowspawn, among humans. Homo lupens is an ancient race possessing dark power. Vague memories of the time when they ruled the planet are the source of many myths and legends of evil monsters. They still exist, though reduced in numbers and power. Adrian, a reclusive Shadowspawn male, has chosen to live as a human, fighting his dark nature. But his sister, ruled by her desire to return the Shadowspawn to power and by her hatred for her brother, abducts Adrian's human lover. To save her and possibly all humans, Adrian must fight with all his powers. The plot is archetypical, and Stirling's werewolves are vicious enough to cause a good many fictional vampires to think twice before taking them on. Action predominates, characterization is competently done but not outstanding, and the dialogue is at times implausible. A strong sexual element makes warming to the yarn definitely a matter of taste. --Frieda Murray

More About the Author

I'm a writer by trade, born in France but Canadian by origin and American by naturalization, living in New Mexico at present. My hobbies are mostly related to the craft -- I love history, anthropology and archaeology, and am interested in the sciences. The martial arts are my main physical hobby.

Customer Reviews

I am a great fan of Stirling (I have virtually every book he has written) but lately I have been disappointed.
Ian S. Mccarthy
I re-read many of his books many times, but this one won't be one of them - it's just too simple and repetitive to be interesting.
Susan Hicks
I do not typically read vampire novels, but being a fan of Stirling's other work I decided to give this book a read.
Bobby Hardenbrook

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Robert Rhodes on May 6, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
S M Sterling's great strength is the the depth of his world building. Here the premise is the existence of a human sub-species with special abilities. This sub-species was dominant until the genes disappeared into the general population with occasional sports appearing as monsters or tyrants. Then a couple of centuries ago a secret society started to breed back to the sub-species which has become the the secret masters of the world. Their abilities are great but balanced by an inability to play well with others of their kind, poor emotional control and nasty tempers. The theme of the series of which this is the first book is the vampires' plan to thin the human heard either by a plague or even more brutal EMP attack. The plot of this book is the seizure of the girlfriend of a anti-vampire vampire by his twin sister and struggle to recover her. Along the way there are lots of neat weapons, kinky sex, food and shopping porn.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By R. Pelcak on May 21, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I found this book to be a refreshing new take on the vampire novel.

The "Publisher's Weekly" writeup complains that
"Stirling hits just about every cliché, from the
grizzled vampire hunter and mentor
to Adrienne's pathologically devoted servants...".
The book includes these elements, but Mr. Stirling's approach to these
cliches is decidedly un-cliched.
None of it seems forced, and the plot lines seem very much
character- rather than plot-driven.

As his career has progressed, Stirling has gotten better and
better at writing *people*; this book does not disappoint in that
regard. There are no "why would someone do THAT?" moments that
seem typical of genre novels.

One of the real strengths of the book (and of Mr. Stirling's work
generally) is the depth to which the world and the bases for
the Shadowspawn's talents have been thought through.
This differentiates "Taint in the Blood" very strongly from
books like Laurell Hamilton's, where vampires just *are*, with the
world otherwise pretty much unchanged from the one we live in.

I think Mr. Stirling had fun writing this book;
I certainly had fun reading it, and look forward to the sequels.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Susan Medlin on October 2, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I own most of his books, and am a great fan of The Change series. However, I hated this book. The hero's girlfriend is kidnapped in the first 3 pages, then repeatedly raped and tortured for the remainder of the book. The graphic descriptions were unnecessary, and the whole book left me feeling slimy. What happened to S.M. Stirling? Please turn this series around, and focus on plot and character development. Leave the sadistic porn for lessor writers.
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24 of 30 people found the following review helpful By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 11, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Vampires are hot right now, and some authors who previously didn't even dabble in the vampire genre are hopping on the bandwagon.

And though he doesn't actually use the word "vampire," S.M. Stirling is the latest to bounce on with "A Taint in the Blood," the first book of a new urban fantasy series. It's a series with plenty of promise, but the whole thing eventually crumbles into a very long, rather boring stew of exposition and a rather vague, cliched vampire mythos. Plus, I never could warm up to the whiny anti-hero.

Adrian is a Shadowspawn (aka Homo sapiens nocturnus), part of the bloodsucking subspecies that has quietly ruled the human race since prehistoric times (and is sort of interbred with them now). But he lives a peaceful "human" life, for the most part. Then his evil sister Adrienne appears in town and kidnaps his ex-girlfriend Ellen, and makes her into one of the sex/blood-donating "lucies" who serve her and the other Shadowspawn.

Unsurprisingly Adrian is determined to both rescue Ellen and kill his evil twin, so he sets out with his old buddy/mentor Harvey to find both women. But the Shadowspawn are launching a new scheme to dominate the human race, using a new disease to gain control of the entire human race.

"A Taint in the Blood" is a frustrating book -- it feels like S.M. Stirling had all sorts of awesome vampire concepts that strayed from the norm. Then he just slapped them together with a lot of shopping porn, architecture porn, clothing porn, S&M sex, and a plethora of vampire cliches that have already been done to death (example: Council of Shadows, bucketloads of money and sex/bloodletting).

In fact, Stirling seems rather bored with his own story, since most of the book revolves around Adrian and Harvey trekking....
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Vanessa on August 7, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I'm not sure why, but S.M. Stirling decided it was his turn at a vampire urban fantasy series starting with A TAINT IN THE BLOOD. His successful Change Series has garnered him a well-deserved following, the post-apocalyptic stories grim yet hopeful. Now, instead of a retro Dark Ages setting, he tries his hand at magic and demons. Most of us are getting tired of all the blood-sucking out there, but if it's going to stick around, the writing might as well be decent--and fortunately Stirling will force those vampire wannabe writers to step it up a notch, especially in showing how much vampires really are monsters. It's about time.

Stirling's big strength in all his books is world building. Here he takes the traditional vampire lore and twists it into a shape that's more interesting than most urban fantasy. There's the history and origins of modern-day 'demon cannibals' who are born not made, mix in Shadowspawn proclivities and lifestyle, add a pinch of killing methods and details about warfare, and fold in the rules of the Power and how to work around it. Then you bake it into something that looks like a regular cake, but is actually a molten lava cake filled with chocolaty goodness (couldn't help myself, the novel is filled with all sorts of foodie details).

This book has all the clichés. There's the main character Adrian, the wealthy and brooding immortal who's trying to break away from his evil family and their 'humans are only good for food' attitudes. There's the grizzled mentor Harvey, thrice divorced, who carries around his sawed-off shotgun with silver bullets and used to work with Adrian for the Brotherhood. There's the plucky heroine Ellen with the body of a goddess (she's a dead ringer for Marilyn Monroe...
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