What the heck happened? Pagan was awesome. Crusader seems like Chapman decided that he needed to broaden the audience to include more young teenage women, so he copied all the angst, jealousy and whining from Twilight. Seriously, how can an author go into that much detail about weaponry and then whine for pages on end about how the werewolf is jealous. Crusader has way too much relationship crap to appeal to what was probably the primary audience of Pagan.
Despite all the reviews I took a chance since I was between books. Unfortunately, the bad reviews were correct. If you can find some way to overlook the juvenile/pre-teen relationship crap, you'll see elements of an interesting story. It sounds good when you summarize it - Dracula gets killed, but secretly cut out his own heart and transported it away before being killed. The Vatican ends up with it, but vampires steal it to bring him back based on directions in a vampire book of prophesies. The original (and awesome) back story from Pagan doesn't evolve much at all, despite that being a major hook for many readers - vampires coming out, and England and a few other countries holding out the resistance with its "Ministry of Paranormal Research & Defence" [sic], the Vampire news channel and so forth. It's unfortunate that those aspects were not further explored, otherwise the series could rank with The President's Vampire, The Lawson Vampire Series, and others.
Unfortunately the actual story of the book is probably less than 1/3 of the pages. The rest of the time you'll get to enjoy gratuitous sex scenes, Twilight-style pre-teen jealousy and angst, and feel like you're reading Kim Harrison or some other write of chick-sci-fi with Favio-romance-style cover art (but with fangs). Crusader was a real let down in that regard. With such an interesting background, I hope that Chapman gets it right with Renegade when it comes out.
**UPDATE** Ok, when I wrote this originally it was because I was about halfway through and not happy. It got much worse. When I pick an author that goes into such weapon detail and action, I DO NOT need to constantly read about how well endowed the protagonist is, especially not every three pages. I DO NOT need to read about his foreskin, or his werewolf girlfriend's clitoris. I thought it was bad during the first half, but it just devolved into a poor man's furry erotica. Chapman was excellent at writing action as demonstrated in Pagan, but I have no idea why he apparently had some sort of sexual awakening and felt that the audience that he developed in Pagan would follow right along wanting to read about anal sex, constant exploration of mating between a human and werewolf in wolf form, and the inane mentioning of Jack's penis size every other page. If you're into that sort of thing, there are tons of authors better experienced to write such, otherwise you can comfortably skip pages as you read in fruitless hope that something of the plot and background will be explored. "Holy crap" was spot on when I titled this review.
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