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Blood Roses: A Novel of Saint-Germain Paperback – October 6, 1999
The Amazon Book Review
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Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's epic of the vampire Ragoczy, the Count Saint-Germain (including Mansions of Darkness, Darker Jewels, and Writ in Blood) has slowly gathered a dedicated readership, while each installment has garnered increasing critical praise. For new readers, Blood Roses is perhaps the most accessible in the series. In 14th-century France, Saint-Germain is caught amidst the devastation of the Black Plague. Though he is unaffected by the disease, his resistance draws the suspicion of each new town he visits--even as he uses ancient Egyptian healing techniques to save lives. Yarbro's impressive novel offers the flavor of the late Middle Ages while flawlessly integrating the elements of horror and the supernatural that mark this eloquent series. One wonders, for example, if the letters and documents that Yarbro integrates into the text are embellishments of the real. But, as with all the Saint-Germain novels, the most satisfying aspect of the narrative is the author's complex rendering of her central character. With the exception of Anne Rice, few writers have as effectively captured the wearied soul of a being living through the great expanse of human history. --Patrick O'Kelley --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
As an exiled foreigner living in the village of Orgon in the midst of 14th-century France, the 3000-year-old vampire Saint-Germain (Mansions of Darkness, etc.) has enough trouble at the best of times convincing the locals that his unusual habits and interests are no threat. It's bad enough to be a man of culture and learning during the Dark Ages without being thought a minion of Satan. Yet even the purest motives aren't enough to withstand the suspicion of the church when Saint-Germain uses his medical skills to heal the Vidame Saint Joachim of a wound no other healer has been able to diagnose. When the church accuses Saint-Germain of helping to spread the plague, the vampire is forced to flee as his lands and goods are seized. In the disguise of an itinerant jongleur, he finds himself attached to a noble house where his learning and sympathetic manner make him first confidant, then secret lover of the Lady Huegenet. Yarbro moves her story along swiftly, filling each page with the period detail for which her work has become known. As is also customary with her writings, the well-told tale is less about vampirism than about the texture of life during a pivotal moment in time long past. Agent, Donald Maass.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Or fifteenth, if you also count "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".
This book is set in the mid-1300s at the time of the first wave of the Black Plague to sweep through Europe. The romantic interest doesn't even appear until nearly two-thirds of the way through the book, which makes for an interesting variation on a theme, as does the way that romantic interest plays out. The setting reminded me somewhat of "Narcissus and Goldmund", by Herman Hesse, a book which made an impact on me long enough ago that I'd rather not think about how long it's been; perhaps I should re-read it, as I remember very little of the details of that book.
Unlike some other reviewers, I feel that on balance, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's writing has been steadily improving as she's progressed through this series; I enjoyed the early books ("Hotel Transylvania", "The Palace", "Blood Games", "Path of the Eclipse", and "Tempting Fate", in that order, are the first five books in the series) but found the writing to be significantly less developed than they have been starting with "Darker Jewels". This book fits the same pattern, although I don't find it QUITE as enjoyable as its predecessor, "Writ In Blood".
The series is not written in chronological order; from earliest to latest historically, the series to this point would be:
1. "Out of the House of Life" (if you base it on the flashbacks to Saint-Germain's early years; set in Ancient Egypt)
2. "Blood Games", set in Rome at the time of the Emperor Nero
3. "A Flame in Byzantium", set in the time of Justinian, mid 500s.
4. "Better In The Dark", set in the mid-900s in Saxony.
5. "Crusader's Torch", set in the late 1000s and early 1100s, Europe and Middle East.
6. "Path of the Eclipse", early 1200s China, India, and other eastern areas.
7. "Blood Roses", 1300s France.
8. "The Palace", 1400s Italy.
9. Darker Jewels: Late 1500s Russia
10 & 11: virtually simultaneous, "A Candle For d'Artagnan" and "Mansions of Darkness", early 1600s France and the New World (mostly Peru) respectively.
12. "Hotel Transylvania", later 1600s France
13. The "current" part of the plot in "Out of the House of Life", early 1800s Egypt.
14. "The Chronicles of Sant-Germain", a collection of short stories that extend temporally from 1890s to 1980s, which time period overlaps both #15 and #16.
15. "Writ In Blood", 1910-1914, Russia, England, Germany, and Finland.
16. "Tempting Fate", Germany 1920-1930s.
These novels are all variations on the genre of "Romantic/heroic/historical fiction", with the part of the extremely heroic hero being played by a vampire. If this concept intrigues you, you definitely want to read these books. If you enjoy historical romance, but find the concept of the vampiric hero unsettling or weird, you may want to give them a try anyway; if either none of these concepts grab you, or if you insist on your vampires being more traditionally minded, this series is not for you.
Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's series about the vampire St. Germain starts from the historical romance genre (although Yarbro is equally well known as a science fiction writer), and is a continuing series. St. Germain is definitely a good guy, using the knowledge he's gained in several thousand years of living to help others. There are a few characters that continue from book to book besides him: the women he turns into vampires, and his "servant," Roger, who is a ghoul. Ghouls are the only other supernatural characters who appear in these books. St. Germain can stand daylight with the right preparations. He has unusual strength, but not limitless, and unusual wisdom, and is an "alchemist" but there are no other overt magic powers. In most of the series, he has an occupation of being an aristocrat, insofar as that was a full-time occupation through most of history; in some books he has another "job" as well. St. Germain does not literally drink blood; he feeds on emotions, usually during erotic experiences, but sex is nonetheless only a minor plot element, rare and very discreet. The series covers 3000 years, from ancient Egypt to the modern day; each book is set in a span of a particular period, usually 20-30 years. The writing is serious, but not self-important; the writing quality is excellent, and Yarbro's abilities as an author qualify these books as literature rather than "merely" genre fiction.
Blood Roses is one of the most recently written in the St. Germain series; chronologically in history, it is in the middle, set in the late Dark Ages, France in the 14th century, during one of the several waves of the Black Plague that went around Europe during that century. The Catholic Church has contributed much toward keeping the populace ignorant and downtrodden, a recurrent theme in the series. At this period of history, there is not yet a full-blown Inquisition as there will be a couple of centuries later. Part of the conflict in the story is due to the schism in the Catholic Church, where a second Pope has been set up in France, in Avignon. Letters between St. Germain and his fellow immortal, Olivia, every few chapters, help set the changing scenes. There is a helpful character in the form of a persecuted Spanish Jew; this novel also has a relatively happy ending, in that there is not a huge final bloodbath featuring war, torture, etc. - perhaps, in the face of the Plague, we do not need further human tortures to keep things active. The female love interest lives a full and happy life even after St. Germain leaves. St. Germain leaves the area having passed along some literacy in spite of the church; we can get the sense that the Dark Ages are going to end soon, as things are changing.
Most recent customer reviews
vampire books, I read one out of order, but...Read more
So perhaps I am not as objective as I could be. Nevertheless, I loved this book.Read more