“He was crusader, outlaw, khan. He was a count, a cavalier and a cardinal. William was a murderer, a devil. A vampire.”
England, 1189. Earl William de Ferrers and his six knights slaughter the family and servants of Ashbury Manor. The victims have had their throats ripped to shreds. The killers flee for the Holy Land.
Richard of Ashbury, a young knight alone in the world and brother of the murdered lord, swears an oath of vengeance to the dying Lady Isabella. Richard tracks Earl William and his men to the Mediterranean where the Third Crusade is just beginning.
Along the way he falls in love with Alice, a beautiful and lonely young widow taking her children to find a future in the land of Christ. Alice is everything he ever wanted but can Richard be a good husband and also fulfil his oath?
Unarmed in a dark dungeon Richard grapples Rollo, a disgusting Norman monster. In the hills of Palestine he crosses swords with the undefeated Hugo the Giant. In his great hall he fights for his life against the merciless evil of Ralph the Reaper. These battles lead Richard ever closer to the climactic confrontation in a cavern of blood…
Let’s be frank. I’m not one of those people who particularly likes or even understands the appeal of reading books that are set in the middle ages. As much of a history buff as I am, that era of time just never really appealed to me for some reason. So when I was offered the opportunity to read about vampires during the dark ages, I thought it would be an interesting read, because in a way, it pushed me out of my comfort zone. Turns out my disinterest for the era actually helped me come to really enjoy and appreciate this story. I was able to go in with few expectations and since it was also about vampires, I found it to be a really enjoyable read for me.
There’s something about someone seeking revenge that really helps keep a plot moving forward. Richard is far from a sympathetic character. I know that sounds harsh, but it’s actually a good thing. He’s a man, just like every other man in this time. He has his faults, he’s not perfect and so it’s easier to go on his journey for revenge, because it felt more real. Had he been some saintly man who happened to lose his family in such a brutal way, it would have made it difficult to accept the many things he has to do along the way. Besides, some of the best pieces of literature are about ordinary people finding themselves in extraordinary situations. That’s what makes Richard’s quest for vengeance such a great tale.
I’m not going to lie. I know little to nothing about the crusades. I know even less about the religious beliefs of all the sides present during this era. However, it was interesting how Richard’s own journey into darkness forced him into a holy war. As if he wasn’t battling enough demons with his pursuit of William and his knights. Of course, I was amused by William’s claim to be a fallen angel. It’s certainly not the first time I’ve seen vampires and fallen angels in the same book, but I still find that to be a fascinating concept. Even if it’s clear he is not one.
Overall this is an intriguing tale of historical fact, literary fiction and vampires.What isn’t there to love about that? It’s clear a lot of passion and thought went into this story. And honestly, I look forward to seeing what is to come for Richard, for reasons I can’t elaborate on for fear of spoiling the story for you. I think the author did an amazing job creating a gripping tale that has a little of everything for a wide range of readers and I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next. I highly recommend you check it out for yourself.
Reader beware: This book features real vampires. Expect a lot of death, blood and violence. So if you are more interested in fluffy vamps who sparkle, this may not be the book for you.
Reviewer’s note: I received this book in exchange for an honest review.