This book takes a total U-turn in the timeline, going back to Nero's Rome, with gladiators and emperors. In BLOOD GAMES, Saint-Germain is living in a palazzo on the outskirts of Rome. BLOOD GAMES has all the features of the Saint-Germain series that I don't really care for - excessive descriptions of costumes, long letters written in very small cursive font, and political intrigue that wears on for just too long to be entertaining. Yes, the King of the Gary Stus actually loses his temper and makes mistakes that result in the deaths of people he holds dear. It felt like Yarbro did a lot of research into the games, and the participants who worked both behind the scenes and in the spotlight (either voluntarily or against their will), and considering that this book was written years before the internet was a thing, that makes the attention to detail that much more impressive and daunting. BLOOD GAMES may actually be my favorite book by her so far.
:P) IMO, this isn't as good as Hotel Transylvania. Most people seem to dislike the letters opening each chapter, but I don't mind them, per se -- what I DO mind is when action centered around the MCs happens when the reader isn't with them (ie., Time Gaps(tm)). It's especially irksome because CQY can write good action scenes -- the Games & the final confrontation with Saint Germain & the crocodiles are all great.
And yet, repeatedly, I go back to this terrible series and read yet another book hoping that none of these things occur, and inevitably, I am disappointed.
What is the point of giving your main character exceptional abilities if you arent going to utilize them?
Dear Vampire Affecianados, When you've tired of sparkly emo disco-balls with fangs or hip-hop slinging, Escalade-driving posers with supposedly "edgy" names or utterly defanged lust objects, bring your weary self to Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's delightfully historical Comte Saint Germain series. The Count Saint Germain is actually based on a real life historical figure (though not a vampire, he was a scientist/alchemist) and is so famous that even his character is featured prominently in the critically acclaimed anime series Le Chevalier d'Eon. Full of rich historical detail one would think Ms. Yarbro is the one with the eternal life.
(Also the author gets points because like P.N. Elrod, she never actually uses the word "vampire".) If you're not very partial to these two elements then I don't recommend the book. I liked the world-weary character of Saint-Germain well enough that I will try another one of these books.
However, I was recommended this book by a member of staff in my local bookshop (where I couldn't get it) and he's the same chap who told me about the superlative Roman novel The Boat of Fate by Keith Roberts, so I took his recommendation at face value. Yarbro has been writing vampire novels about the same character, Saint Germain, for 30 years now, and she has apparently taken him through much of the history of the world. I lapped all these up, and for a good part of the book, I enjoyed the story too, which is all about Olivia, an unfortunate noblewoman who is horribly mistreated by her cruel husband. Well, I think it comes down to the 'love' story between Olivia and Saint Germain. If it had been more convincing, I might just have said that I had enjoyed a vampire novel.
Id read a couple of small paper books by the author but not been aware of her larger work the tales of the vampire Saint-Germain. Although the story has a backdrop of upheaval and change as emperors come and go over the course of a relatively few years, there is a much more personal story being told, the relationship between Olivia and her abusive husband Cornelius Justus Silius and her subsequent relationship with Saint Germain. As far as the characters go the main three are superb, Olivia comes across as a victim, albeit one with an inner strength that is incredible, while Justus is suitably despicable, Saint Germain himself is perfectly realised, a near otherworld presence, grounded in the earth of his forbearers with a feeling or great age and wisdom ensconced upon his shoulders. It is an educational process in reading, I certainly learned a lot about imperial Rome, and the story too is well paced, for all it is spanning years.
A professional writer for more than forty years, Yarbro has sold over eighty books, more than seventy works of short fiction, and more than three dozen essays, introductions, and reviews. A skeptical occultist for forty years, she has studied everything from alchemy to zoomancy, and in the late 1970s worked occasionally as a professional tarot card reader and palmist at the Magic Cellar in San Francisco. The books range widely over time and place, and were not published in historical order.