The first book in a historical fantasy series about the very old vampire who is currently called the Comte de Saint-Germaine. The first book is set in the year 1745 and in Paris.

Publication year: 1978
Page count: 252 including the authors notes about the locations, people, and vampires
Format: print
Publisher: St. Martin Press

Comte de Saint-Germaine is a mysterious man who has recently taken his place among the Parisian nobles. Some think that he’s a fraud but others, particularly the women, are charmed. He seems to be interested in them as people, and not just to get (sexual) favors, and he keeps the confidences he’s told.

In a sense, those that call him a fraud are correct; he’s not a Count. He’s a vampire who remembers Ancient Rome because he lived there. He also has a double life in Paris as Prinz Ragocy who employs sorcerers and opposes the Satan worshiping clique of men lead by Saint Sebastien. Saint Sebastien is looking to sacrifice a couple of women in his rituals to Satan in order to get more power to himself. Unfortunately, one of the women is the young and vibrant Madelene de Montalia whom Saint-Germaine has fallen in love with.

The plot is about equal parts about Saint-Germaine fighting the Satan worshipers and romancing Madelaine. Still, the plot moves along quickly. The book has several point-of-view characters. In addition to Saint-Germaine, there’s Madelaine, her aunt Claudia, and a few others. The book starts and ends with a letter, and every chapter ends with a letter or a note. The letters are important. In fact, one subplot is resolved in the letters and the structure worked well for me.

Most of the characters are Parisian nobles and their servants and many of the chapters are set in parties or dinners. However, to balance them, there are the sorcerers who work in gloomy cellars.

The cast is pretty large In addition to the thoughtful Saint-Germaine, there’s Madelaine who’s intelligent and wants to study. However, she’s spent most of her life in a convent, so some things are a shock to her. Her aunt the countess Claudia is trapped in an unhappy marriage; her husband is a drunkard and a gambler, and resents it when Claudia tries to help him. Claudia advices her niece that she can’t expect a happy marriage, either. In fact, many of nobles are unhappy. One of the women is married to a gay man and her priest just tells her to pray for children. Saint-Germaine also rescues an injured coach man who becomes loyal to Saint-Germaine. The group of sorcerers includes a Spanish man who escaped the Inquisition and an Englishman who is the group’s leader. They can do actual magic.

Near the start, Madelaine finds out that Saint-Germine is a vampire but she isn’t disturbed by it. Instead, she wants him to suck her blood and later she wants to become a vampire so that she’ll have a longer life. I found this to be a bit strange, to say the least, especially for a woman raised by nuns. The vampire doesn’t have to kill anyone; he seems to need very little blood. Like Dracula, he can walk in daylight but is strongest during the night. He ages very slowly.

There are a lot of historical detail in the book. In fact, I was quickly bored with the clothing descriptions but religious talk about how women have to submit to even abusive husbands but those were a big part of the life of the nobles. However, otherwise I enjoyed the glimpse to a fantastical 1743 France.

There are two Satanistic ritual descriptions in the book and both are cruel. In both cases, a woman is the victim and in the first ritual she’s gang raped. The rituals have also homosexual acts. The book doesn’t have any non-Satanistic gays which, on the one hand fits the time period but is also a bit disappointing.

Saint-Germaine himself is based on real-life figure who was a mystery to his contemporaries.

All in all, I did enjoy the book and intend to read a few sequels, especially if they don’t have any Satan worshipers!