Posted on February 15, 2005 by Monica Valentinelli
Written by Greg Stolze
The first fiction novel for Vampire: The Requiem, a game line produced by White Wolf, A Hunger Like Fire sets the tone for some colorful characters and intriguing plot twists.
Written by Greg Stolze, the novel begins with a character narration by Bruce, a newly-changed vampire. New to being an undead, but not authorized by the Prince of Chicago, Prince Maxwell. After reading the first two pages, I felt compelled to read further. While first person narration can get tricky, Stolze handles it well by adding some interesting character quirks. For example, the undead Bruce Miner has an attachment to his dog, Peaches. Of course, he has to use his special vampiric ability to get close to animals, but nonetheless it’s a good tie-in between game mechanics and a fictional character.
As I read further into the novel, I was challenged by the constantly changing character point-of-view. In order to keep up with the intensity of the characters, I treated the novel like a bar of fudge. Have a little bit at a time to enjoy it fully. The novel is easier to read as time goes on, and once you get used to what makes these characters tick, you want to know what they’re thinking. Characters like Persephone Moore, Solomon Birch, Prince Maxwell, and Scratch (a vampire with a penchant for zoot suits) move the plot just by their being in the right place at the right time.
In “A Hunger Like Fire,” there is no one true plot just like there is no one true “bad” or “good” guy. Because of that, the interweaving of happenstance makes this the perfect story for Vampire: The Requiem. It’s in first person (which means you either believe what the character tells you or you don’t), and it’s all about power (who has it, who doesn’t, and who’s going to try to get some more of it). The struggles the characters went through forced me to empathize with their issues of “morality”, and their young, young vampire age caused me to applaud them as they tried to keep in line.
There are some moments unique to this novel, however, which show the reader a different side of being a vampire. At one point in the book, Bruce’s newfound “friends” throw him a party in celebration of being undead. Replete with gifts and pats on the back, you almost want to be there to give these vampires a friendly hug. Until, of course, you realize that you’re not one.
In Vampire: The Requiem, there are four ways for vampires to “socially belong.” Clans, Covenants, Coteries, and Courts. In “A Hunger Like Fire,” Stolze presents all four of these methods. While he did not delve deeply into Clan affiliation, he did so with the others. Covenants, like the Lancea Sanctum, were prominently displayed. Solomon Birch, for all his hard ways, is a prime example of a vampire belonging to this covenant. As a result, you feel both repulsed and compelled by his character. There are two primary examples of Coteries in the novel. The first is a small, unaligned Coterie that bands together around Bruce. The second is the primogen of Chicago. Both groups band together for different reasons; one for camaraderie, one for politics.
The last, but most important, way for vampires to socially interact in Chicago is the Court of Chicago, or Elysium. Stolze sets the stage for other books by locating the Court at Chicago’s Navy Pier; Shedd Aquarium. If you’ve ever been to the Aquarium, it’s an unsettling thought to think of vampires haunting its halls. Darker still, is the honor for a vampire to decorate for the Court. Stolze’s attention to detail in this area sheds an intimate light on the true nature of being a vampire. We can only hope that the Court will continue in this vein.
As the first for the series, Stolze did an excellent job of both creating characters and setting for Vampire: The Requiem in Chicago. I felt the book was definitely money well-spent; it was refreshing, comical, and dark. Perfect for the World of Darkness.
Also look for other Vampire: the Requiem products at RPGNow.com.
Reviewer: Monica Valentinelli