Long ago, homo nocturnus ruled the Earth, able to manipulate the forces of nature at their most basic level. Before the dawn of recorded history, they were overthrown, leaving behind them only legends - our legends of shapeshifters and blood-drinkers, of cruel gods and evil magicians, of ogres and goblins, succubi and incubi.
But a strain of their blood lives on in humanity, the genes themselves bending the forces of probability to reunite. Secret clans used their half-understood abilities to hide from the witch-finders and the normal humans; occasionally one would be detected, a Giles de Rais or an Elizabeth Bathory. Then, in the 19th century, the discoveries of Mendel and Darwin enabled them to understand what they were and to breed back the full range of their dark powers.
Now, in the 21st century, they rule the world again in secret; only the Brotherhood fights them, in a clandestine war of terror and assassination, of Wreaking and silver-inlaid knives. Adrian Breze was born into that war, but he defected to the side of humanity, and for decades he was the Brotherhood's most effective fighter, just as his twin sister Adrienne is the Council of Shadow's strongest. Now he has retired, weary of the endless struggle, but Adrienne has her own purposes, and they don't include letting her brother live quietly in his mountaintop retreat near Santa Fe. To force him out, she kidnaps his human lover, Ellen Tarnowski, and the war is on again - with the future of humanity at stake. For the Council of Shadows is ready to emerge into the light, with a plan that will reduce humans once again to the harried prey of the creatures of darkness.
©2010 Steven M. Stirling (P)2010 Tantor
This book gets mixed reviews for a good reason. A type of book you'll either love or hate - like all good literature it provokes a response, and for that Mr Stirling can be very pleased.
Yes, it is violent. Yes, it is uncomfortable. And yes, very much an 'ADULTS ONLY' book. But that simply defines an audience.
In terms of genre it is nice to have a novel that portrays a dark side of the undead rather than the chaste teen fantasies of much current writing. Power corrupts, and this is a novel which portrays that.
I look forward to the next instalment
"Aweful, just aweful."
A Taint In The Blood is Steven Stirling’s new novel loosely based on Dracula by Bram Stoker and The Story of O, by Anne Desclos. The estates of Stoker and Desclos should sue.
Stirling is generally a good, well researched author who has worked in a variety of speculative fiction genres. I have read most of his novels and have enjoyed them immensely. This most recent work is the exception. Apparently he has decided to jump on the vampire bandwagon with a vengeance, and has created a work of supreme awfulness. Todd McLaren has narrated all of Mr. Stirling's work that I have listened to, and again usually does a very good job. In this reading he sounds embarrassed from time to time. No wonder. Save your money or credits and pass this one by.
"Trying to Like it. Trying to Care"
Vampires, soft porn, characters who are wealthy beyond all reason, and a damsel in distress. Good formula to make some bucks given today's fad in the above. Unfortunately, not anywhere near S.M. Stirling's best so it just lies there in the crud with the Twilight books and others like them. Ann Rice did it better 20 years ago. It could be an explanation of the Nantucket occurrence in the change series, but there are some contradictions to be overcome. If you get it, don't go in with your expectations very high.
"Blech! This is Nasty on So Many Levels"
I love S.M. Sterling. The Embverse Novels are great. I am fighting my way through this one but it is just an S&M mess. I am not a prude, and I did fine with Laurel K Hamilton, but this is just to much. The only thing I can say for it is that now I know where the alian space bats came from. Save your credits, listen to something else by this fine author and forget that he wrote this boring, cardboard charactered abomination.
I like Stirling and bought this one based upon the past books- most of which I own and have actually read more than once. I do not consider myself a harsh critic as I read anything. However, this was just terrible, I actually could not get through it, which is rare.
"Not what I was expecting"
I've read a lot of S.M. Stirling's books. This was not what I was expecting.
Mr. Stirling: You are one kinky dude.
I have no words, only a feeling. Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.
P.S. I do love your books on The Change.
""New Moon" and Buffy get real"
For Stirling fans, his latest may be one of his greatest. If you liked the Draka or Clan MacKensie, I think his fully realized Shadowspawn (a genetic sub species that can do a scientific sort of magic, drink blood, shift shapes and perhaps live forever) society will ring your chimes.
If you enjoy the love, romance and blood-drinking genre, Steve may put some depth and thought, as well as LOTS of very vivid prose, to the characters, how they grow as people, before during and after. The central couple slept together for six months, broke up, and now rediscover love amidst terror, horror and courage.
Drinking blood feels like what wine can only try to be - imagine full scale telepathy as your demon lover makes love, knowing just what gives joy and what causes pain, and preys upon your final heart beat despair and personality dissolution.
He also makes evil as real and nuanced as having a nice meal - and the choices that make us less bad and perhaps even good just as real, if a bit less scary.
Having just finished reading and now auditing, I can say that the reader adds serious value, as Steve has been making "voices" come alive.
"Sex crazed Vamps"
This book is basically sex crazed S&M vamps with little action outside the sexual pshyco mind games that get old real fast. Fortunately the sex isn't that graphically descriptive outside of alluding to the worse of it. I found myself fast forwarding through a lot of the repetitive bite/sex to find some action, sadly you have to wait till the very end of the book for any good action and it is over in about 2 sentences. I bought this to explore a new author and the only reason I got this one was because the Change series seems incomplete I'll try another book before giving up on him but it'd better be better than this one.
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