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Dark Ages: Assamite
Stefan Petrucha
White Wolf paperback $6.99

review by Sue Reider

Stefan Petrucha has created a panoramic world of vampiric possession during the Crusades. The crusaders have overrun Constantinople and are poised to continue their forays. Sir Hugh of Clairvaux, a Templar knight who is also a vampire, is leading the Christian forces in the area. He claims to be guided by visions from the Queen of Heaven. Amala, a Middle Eastern vampire from a group known as the Assamites, opposes Hugh. When Hugh and Amala meet, she has an opportunity to kill him, but holds back when she hears him quoting verses from the Qu-Aran. Amala, while completely hostile to everything for which Hugh stands, finds herself attracted to him.
   Sir Hugh is an absorbing and conflicted character - although he is beleaguered by his vampire urgings, he is very much in control of them, and thus able to work for the fulfilment of his vision of taking over Jerusalem. He is also a man of his word, even when his yearnings tug him in the opposite direction. The enigmatic Amala is also an attention-grabbing character - a Muslim woman who is also a warrior. As the story progresses, she must weigh her mission to destroy the invaders against her growing attraction to Sir Hugh. There is also a large cast of minor characters, all of whom are well developed.
   With a wealth of historical detail portrayed from another (or should one say a 'nether') viewpoint, this is a gripping story, with lots of action sequences, as well as strong characters. This is the second of a planned 13-part series; I haven't read the first volume, so can state with conviction that this book stands well on its own, and all in all, it's an exciting and well-written adventure.
Dark Ages: Assamite
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