The immortal Count Ragoczy Saint-Germain has spent so many of the last 4000 years trying to conceal his vampire identity that even Yarbro (Mansions of Darkness) has begun to respect his secrecy. In his latest adventure, set in Europe on the eve of WWI, his supernatural powers are barely in evidence, manifesting primarily as wisdom born from centuries of confronting human folly. Enlisted by Czar Nicholas of Russia to help shore up the fragile peace of the West, Saint-Germain works through political channels in England and Germany to slow the escalating arms race. His mission incites the wrath of villainous munitions merchant Baron Klemens Manfred von Wolfast, who is not above blackmail, murder or kidnapping Rowena Pearce-Manning (the young painter for whom the count has fallen) to get his way. Assassination attempts on Saint-Germain's person and character force him to risk revealing his undead existence--and risk sacrificing his lover for the sake of the world. In her prejudices, Yarbro sometimes seems a creature of the time she depicts: her Russians are idealistic visionaries, her Germans aggressive predators, her English diplomats entrenched in ""wrong-headed rectitude."" Despite these cultural stereotypes, she creates compelling individuals whose passions seem all the more poignant for the war about to engulf them. Although he too seems helplessly borne on the tide of history, Saint-Germain emerges from this robust romantic tale as a powerful figure of conscience, who deserves to surface at other historical hot spots in adventures to come. (July)
Reviewed on: 06/30/1997 Release date: 07/01/1997 Genre: Fiction
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