cover image Better in the Dark

Better in the Dark

Chelsea Quinn Yarbro. Tor Books, $23.95 (412pp) ISBN 978-0-312-85504-8

Set in 10th-century upper Saxony, Germany, this entertaining but uninvolving addition to the Count Saint-Germain series starts with the vampire Saint-Germain shipwrecked and washed ashore near a Germanic keep. He is found there by Ranegonda, the princess of the local castle, who has been in charge--against prevailing custom--since her brother abandoned his post to join a monastery. Cut off from his friend Roger and other potential helpmeets, Saint-Germain is held at the castle until his ransom can be paid (a standard practice of the time). While there, he comes to love Ranegonda and joins her in battle to protect her holdings from the ever more dangerous displaced hordes who threaten the castle. Smooth and well-crafted, the tale showcases Yarbro's eye for historical detail and for bringing the ways, customs and conflicts of another time to life, but the plot is simplistic and predictable. The story lacks the freshness and spark of earlier volumes in the series. (Dec.)