An Embarrassment of Riches
The 24th volume of Yarbro’s Saint-Germain series is sure to please her fans, but it’s also likely to lure in new readers (as it did this reviewer). This slice of the count’s millennia-long life finds him in 13th-century Bohemia, exiled by Konig Bela of Hungary to protect his native land. Known here as Rakoczy Ferancsi, he is sent to use his alchemy skills to provide jewels to Konige Kunigunde while Konig Otakar is away. The supernaturally charming Rakoczy is unable to avoid attracting the konige’s love-starved ladies, who soon seek his private attentions. Giving in to their advances provides him with the sustenance he needs, but it also brings danger. Rakoczy is watched by many, and the penalty for such liaison is burning at the stake, a death to which even a vampire is susceptible.
Those who don’t enjoy vampire novels shouldn’t be too quick to dismiss this one; Saint-Germain’s immortality is not the focus but the catalyst through which the reader experiences life in medieval Prague. Slow in both pace and plot, this is a novel of observation rather than action; through the count’s ageless eyes the reader sees a vivid picture of the setting and the people in it. This includes lengthy passages on everyday activities and constant descriptions of clothing, food, and decor; some will find this tedious, but to others it will be a feast of historical detail.
Recommended if you’re looking for something a little different in a setting not often explored.