Thursday, June 27, 2013
First Published: 1978
The Blurb: Since 1978, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro has produced about two dozen novels and numerous short stories detailing the life of a character first introduced to the reading world as Le Comte de Saint-Germain.
We first meet him in Paris during the reign of Louis XV when he is, apparently, a wealthy, worldly, charismatic aristocrat, envied and desired by many but fully known to none. In fact, he is a vampire, born in the Carpathian Mountains in 2119 BC, turned in his late-thirties in 2080 BC and destined to roam the world forever, watching and participating in history and, through the author, giving us an amazing perspective on the time-tapestry of human civilization.
In Hôtel Transylvania Saint-Germain makes his first appearance in a story that blends history and fiction as Saint-Germain is pitted against Satanists to preserve Madelaine de Montalia from ruin.
The Review: The above blurb gives a potted history of Saint-Gemain, a character Chelsea Quinn Yarbro introduced to the world in 1978 but who was based on the historical Comte de Saint Germain who lived through the 18th Century and who would try to deflect enquiries into his background with fantasies – he once claimed to be 500 years old – and who eventually revealed/claimed that he was a son of Francis II Rákóczi, the Prince of Transylvania.
Yarbro’s series is a very long running and rather famous one and thus I was a little embarrassed to admit I had not read any of the series. As such I purchased the kindle edition of the book (and also the kindle edition of another long running, and too long ignored, series). The first thing I have to say is that the kindle edition is sloppy. Typos abound and it is in desperate need of a proof. I trust other (physical) editions are not so poorly edited.
As for the book itself it is very well written but perhaps a tad un-vampiric. There is lore, of course, but Saint-Germain is very much a “good guy vampire” and so we see little in the way of biting etcetera. That said as an alternative historical fantasy it does work well.
I said there was lore and some of it is unusual. Saint-Germain can only be killed by fire or by having his spine severed. There is the mention of a folklore that those born at the Winter Solstice will be a vampire. Vampires lose their sexual impetus, a trait shared with the Ricean vampires. Saint-Germain cannot cross water or go abroad in sunlight – however he has got past these limitations by filling the soles and heals of his boots with native soil.
The enemies in the book are Satanists and this leads to an interesting switch on religious paraphernalia. Saint-Germain can hold a cross but it will ward the Satanists. Incidentally Saint-Germain recognises Satan as a primal energy source. Leader of the Satanists, Saint Sebastian, uses ritual degradation and sacrifice to gain power and this includes “drawing youth from her like a bee drawing nectar”, and I suggest this makes him an energy vampire.
Over-all it was a great read, though I would have preferred much more in the way of vampiric activity – that’s me though. I have ignored the typos when deciding on the score, 8 out of 10.