My review rating: 4 of 5 stars
Fans of Saint-Germain will be absolutely delighted at this addition to the saga of the legendary vampire. It is the year 535 AD and Saint-Germain, aka Zangi-Ragozh, is a successful merchant in China. Called to wait upon the Chinese Emperor, Zangi-Rogozh starts to cross China with a small caravan and his faithful servant, Rojeh, when distant Krakatoa erupts in a mighty volcanic explosion that is even heard in distant Peking. Following the eruption, tsunamis destroy coastal towns and much of the shipping. (Shades of what recently happened in that area.) Tons of ash and sulfur are thrown into the atmosphere, ringing the world and causing severe weather changes. The sun dims. Burning sulfur rain and yellow snow fall. There is no spring, no summer, crops fail, famine and fevers plague not just some of the world, but everywhere. Many people believe that the end of the world is coming. Zangi-Ragozh decides to return to his homeland, the book covers his long and perilous journey.
Those who know the series will find the glimpse afforded into Saint Germain’s beginnings fascinating and the trials and tribulations that the hero must overcome interesting reading. Those new to the series may be surprised, for this series certainly is not like any other. Be prepared for a rich historical novel where the hero just happens to be a vampire rather than a vampire novel. There are no bloody animalistic feeding frenzies. While Saint-Germain does enjoy sex with his food, the heightening of emotions increases the power of the blood to sustain him, the stories lack the elaborate sexual fantasies of the typical vampire romance. And while Saint-Germain has his past anguishes, he is no brooding hero living in the throws of despair. In fact, having lived 2500 years has made him rather cautious and conservative. He tends to plan for the worse and believes in taking extra precautions. Still, he is very much a hero for the kindness and generosity that he displays, especially towards women, making him much more human than the humans around him. Nor have his vampire powers made him something of a super hero battling evil. No extraordinary powers such as an ability to change form or control minds. He possess the usual strengths, imperviousness to cold, excellent night vision, and an amazing ability to heal himself. But he is not dead to the world during the day nor does he burst into flames when touched by sunlight. He is weakened by running water and sunlight, but that can be countered to some extent by his native soil, which he keeps in the heel of his boots, stuffed into his saddle, and in a crate to sleep on. But Saint-Germain is more than a mere vampire. He is an intellectual, an Alchemist capable of changing lead into gold and making precious jewels, and a healer, who makes what he calls the sovereign remedy out of moldy bread. While we care about Saint-Germain, the author tells more than just his story as she blends letters from various ship captains, merchants, and friends to tell the story of the people he comes in contact with and the world in general during this time of crisis. This is not a fast read, but it is an interesting read, giving the reader a feel for a time and place from long ago. It is a worthy addition to what may possibly be the longest vampire series.
First published Vampire Books and Authors at Suite101.com
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