Posted on October 23, 2004 by Flames
1999. My birthday. Since I had no life back then, I elected to spend my birthday doing what any self-assured gamer would do – I went shopping for gamebooks and supplies. Who needs booze and beer when you can shell out another hundred bucks for RPG material, right?
I was a sad little man back in the day.
Anyway, so on the day of my birthday, I went to my local gaming shop. It’s a great little spot here in southwestern Akron called Kenmore Komics that gets in all the latest books just about as soon as they come out. So while I was there I picked out several clanbooks before going to the fiction section of the store. And that’s when I saw clan novel Toreador, the first in the clan novel series?
A thirteen novel series exploring each of the clans of Caine, I read. Awesome! I plunked down my hard earned cash and bought it as well, and sat down to start it that night.
And thus began my love-hate relationship with this ‘series.’ I use that word loosely because I’m not sure this even qualifies as a series of books to begin with. Hell, I’m not sure WHAT to call this… thing.
On the surface it’s pretty interesting. Thirteen novels, each exploring one of the clans in detail. A few plotlines streaming from book to book, some great characters – hell this could have been something really special. Heck, the Dark Ages clan novel series is everything this series should have been. Each novel features an in-depth exploration into a different clan, along with well-written characters. And while there are plots that go from book to book and connect the series, each book stands on its own.
So what happened with the first clan novel series? For that, let me mention something first.
This will not be a review of each book. There will not be thirteen reviews of each book. Doing this would waste my time and your time and server space on the website. Because, and this is the problem with the series, it’s absolutely pointless to consider the series book-by-book. Each book isn’t a novel onto itself in the series, but rather one gigantic chapter in a book published in thirteen pieces. The series reminds me of books such as The Green Mile by Stephen King – a novel that was put out in six parts. That’s what’s happened here.
We get characters introduced to us in each book. Plot threads are continued from book to book to book. That’s the main problem. There’s no finality to anything in this series. There’s so much story here that it can’t be covered in the space of one book. Even the books that are more self-contained than others, such as Giovanni and Assamite, contain plot threads that weave from one book to the next. So it’s completely impossible to sit down and just enjoy one book. You have to go from book to book to understand everything that’s going on. And I don’t particularly like having to read pages and pages of story that will never be resolved in a novel, let alone pages of story that have nothing to do with the main plot of the novel I’m reading and make no sense.
As far as the writing goes, it’s alright overall. Some of the books are better written than others (Setite, Ravnos, and Assamite come to mind) and some are so poorly written that you wonder if it’s worth trying to keep up with the different storylines when you have to slog through pages and pages of crap that reads like something in a 10th grader’s private journal. Toreador, Lasombra, and the pile of crap that is Tremere in particular are examples of the series at its worst.
And that brings me to another issue with the series. The main characters aren’t even written the same from book to book. Victoria Ash goes from an ambitious debutante to badass with a gun without rhyme or reason. Jan Pieterzoon is trying to save the Camarilla and manipulating everyone one minute, and then becomes a lovesick horndog the next. There’s no rhyme or reason to anything the characters do beyond that it just fits whatever the writers were wanting to happen at that particular time.
That’s the overwhelming issue with this series I think. In the face of all the stories that have to be banged out over this series and everything that has to happen, such details as ‘character,’ ‘mood,’ and ‘theme’ are left by the wayside, as are such issues as ‘coherent plot’ ‘not wasting my time,’ etc.
Honestly, this series could have benefited from being shortened and simplified and edited down to about four or five books. A four book series detailing the fall of Atlanta and the Camarilla taking New York City would have made for great reading. A three book series on Lucita’s hunting Archbishop Borges and how this leads to the final confrontation with her, her sire, and Fatima would have been wonderful, as would a four book series on the mysterious eye, its destructive power, and how the Gangrel were affected because of it. But instead these and other stories are crammed together in the series. The result is a colossal failure of a series that frustrates the reader.
It’s a shame too, because there was some great stuff here that got weighed down by the rest of the series. The main sections of Assamite detailing the buildup and confrontation with Moncada under the city was wonderful, and the final battle with the Sabbat in Nosferatu is gripping. This series had a lot of promise in general I think, but was finally weighed down by too many details.
To wrap this up, my favorite and least favorite of the series:
The best – Assamite. Fatima was easily the most well-written character in the series, and it’s a shame she didn’t have more to do in the series than she did. This book could have easily been a series, as I said above. And any writer that makes me care about Lucita, my least favorite character in vampire, as Bruce Baugh did in this series (and in his Lasombra trilogy) knows what he’s doing.
The worst – Lasombra and Tremere. The Lasombra novel is three hundred pages of Lucita acting cool and spouting one-liners and killing vampires with cool powers. I firmly believe that the author of this book has a fifteen year old daughter or niece that wears gothic makeup, listens to the Cure, and is filled with angst, and in an effort to allow her to ‘cleanse her soul’ let her ghostwrite this book. The Tremere novel is three hundred pages of pure shit that had no business being published, as did the Tremere trilogy written by the same author. The main Tremere character is nothing more than a blatant rip-off of Scully from the X-Files, and the plot appears to have been cobbled together from several Harry Potter books.
So to sum up the series: Good idea in theory, horribly executed.
Take a pass on these, y’all. Give the Dark Ages clan novel series a read instead.
Reviewer: Mike S.
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