Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's regal vampire Ragoczy, the Count Saint-Germain, crushes our perceptions of the stereotypical bloodsucking, murderous vampire. Unlike his undead brethren Dracula and Lestat, Saint-Germain values life, and he is the very paradigm of humanity and tenderness.
In his long and sometimes overwhelmingly lonely life, Ragoczy has lived through France's 14th-century Black Plague (Blood Roses), Ivan the Terrible's bloody reign (Darker Jewels), and the First World War (Writ in Blood). In Communion Blood, Count Saint-Germain travels from Transylvania to Rome to help out a distressed friend. It is the 17th century, a time when the pope had absolute power, and his "Little House," (The Inquisition), was a law unto itself. A vampire would be viewed as the ultimate heretic, but Saint-Germain puts his own fears aside as he offers legal advice and support to his good friend and fellow undead Niklos Aulirios, who is involved in a bitter legal dispute.
For over 1,300 years, Niklos was the faithful manservant of Olivia Clemens, until she died the True Death. Although she bequeathed everything to Niklos in her will, a young German, Ahrent Julius Rothofen, has challenged the will. He claims to be a relative of Olivia's late husband, but the vampires know this "husband" was purely fictitious. Rothofen also happens to be part of Archbishop Siegfried Walmund's entourage, a powerful allegiance of men who use the church to further their political ambitions and personal wealth. These are not men to vex, particularly if one happens to be a vampire.
As she has done so well throughout her series, Yarbro weaves Saint-Germain's personal dramas into a larger historical picture. We learn much about the complicated politics and religious divisions of 17th-century Europe, and we are treated to a fascinating snapshot of the music, arts, and fashions of the era. This is all laced with enough horror, supernatural intrigue, and erotic vampire sex to remind us that Saint-Germain, despite his humanity, is really not of the natural world. --Naomi Gesinger