Chelsea Quinn Yarbro,
Roman Dusk
(Tor, 2006)

In the third century AD (or the 10th century since the founding of Rome), the foreigner Ragoczy Germainus Sanct-Franciscus lives in peace in a villa outside the walls of Rome. When he comes to the attention of a decurion -- a minor Roman official -- who takes a dislike to him, Sanct-Franciscus finds that life becomes a bit more difficult.

When he later moves his household within the Roman walls in accordance with the law, the decurion again tries to make trouble for him, but Sanct-Franciscus is meticulous in his dealings with the law. The decurion, however, refuses to give up until he finds some reason to have Sanct-Franciscus prosecuted.

Long-time readers of this series will know ahead of time that Sanct-Franciscus (a.k.a. the Count Saint-Germain) is a vampire. New readers may be surprised to see how little emphasis is made on his nature. Though mentioned from time to time, the story is not about Sanct-Franciscus being a vampire. His vampiric nature is merely a facet of his character, as much as his dark hair and urbane manners. Such non-emphasis is really rather refreshing if one is used to bloody fangs and glowing eyes.

The emphasis is instead on Sanct-Franciscus's attempt to live a quiet life in Rome, to run his trading business profitably, to enjoy his friends. Unfortunately, this period in Roman history was an unsettled one, with emperor following emperor in quick succession, when strangers were looked on with suspicion, if not downright fear, for not being born Roman. It was, in many ways, like the prevailing circumstances in our own country where a swarthy complexion earns suspicion. The Roman Empire was not to last too terribly much longer.

Don't be afraid to pick up Roman Dusk even if you've never read a Saint-Germain novel before; no previous knowledge of the series is necessary to thoroughly enjoy this novel. History buffs will no doubt find this just as entertaining as vampire fans.

by Laurie Thayer
7 April 2007

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