cover image Communion Blood: A Novel of the Count Saint-Germain

Communion Blood: A Novel of the Count Saint-Germain

Chelsea Quinn Yarbro. Tor Books, $26.95 (480pp) ISBN 978-0-312-86793-5

The tyranny of the Inquisition in 17th-century Rome leaves no one safe, especially those unfortunate enough to possess property desired by powerful members of the Roman Catholic Church. When she died 30 years ago, Olivia Clemens, an old friend of Yarbro's gentleman-vampire hero the Count Saint-Germain (Writ in Blood, etc.), bequeathed her estate to her loyal servant, Niklos Aurilios. Now Niklos's ownership of the ample lands is threatened by Ahrent Julius Rothofen, a member of Archbishop Siegfried Walmund's entourage. Rothofen claims to be a long-lost son of Olivia's husband, though in fact Olivia had no husband--but to reveal that fact would open her life to deeper scrutiny than Niklos and Saint-Germain will allow. Saint-Germain agrees to plead Niklos's case in court. He earns even greater enmity from the clergy when he shelters Cardinal Cavaleria y Vacamonte's runaway sister, who is trying to escape an arranged marriage to the archbishop's pox-ridden brother. While sidestepping threats from his enemies, Saint-Germain finds time to take a lover, the beautiful soprano Giorgianna Ferrugia, and to write her an opera with baroque composer Alessandro Scarlatti. As usual, Saint-Germain's vampirism forms only a minor footnote to the story. Yarbro's painstaking research--detailed in author's notes--yields a finely wrought tapestry of lives in grim historical context. The author captures vividly the brutality and greed that powerful Romans hid behind a facade of elegance and piety. Those new to the count, as well as his loyal admirers, will enjoy this richly textured tale of political intrigue spiced with hot blood. (Oct.)