Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Book Review: Vampire Wars

I bought Vampire Wars: The Von Carstein Trilogy, as a source of inspiration for my work-in-progress Vampire Counts army. Read it over the space of the past week, and figured I would let you all know about it. The Omnibus itself contains three books and two short stories, which detail the highs and lows of the Vampire Counts of Sylania and their attempts to turn the Warhammer World into a zombie planet.

The first book, Inheritance (and both of the superb short stories), detail the first Vampire War and Vlad, first of the Von Carsteins. Unfortunately, this was the best book of the three, though it was in fact quite good. It had two main failings, both of which are understandable, if not enjoyable. The first problem is time lapse. Vast swathes of time take place between 'scenes' some times. I forgive this somewhat because this novel does in fact take place over a long scale of time, due to the longevity of vampires. The other problem is character mortality. You often have a hard time telling who the story is about, because each in a series of 'main' characters is killed. While both of these faults are excusable, due to focus on the vampires themselves, it does make the book read a little disjointedly.

Dominion, the second title, revolves around Konrad Von Carstein, the mad second Count of Sylvania. Following a long omnibus tradition, this second book manages to be my least favorite of the three. Konrad is just not a villian of much merit. While a terrible foe, certainly, he seemd to do more damage to his own side than to the Empire he attacks. His siblings nearly grant him victory, except he hamstrings or destroys them at the point where they would actually contribute to his cause. Also, he seems to be set up as bigger and badder than Vlad, but takes a whole lot less killing. Not a lot seems to happen in this book, other than setting Mannfred up as "The Greatest of all the Von Carsteins"

Book three, Retribution is the tale of Mannfred Von Carstein, depicted in every source as the Smartest, Canniest, Toughest, and Magickest of all the Von Carsteins. You can imagine my chagrin when he in fact manages to do even less damage than Konrad. Nevertheless, I like this book better than Dominion. The main failing here, of course is that there is a trmemndous buildup, followed by "and they had been fighting for four months," followed by a very rushed final battle. After all that buildup, it feels like Mannfred should have a tougher final battle.

Lest you read the above and get the impression that I didn't like this omnibus, let me tell you that I did enjoy it. I just had some problems with it. I long to return to the heady days of yore (earlier this year) when I read my first Black Library omnibus, Space Wolves 1 & 2, where I constantly was looking for excuses to read just one more chapter.

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