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Blood Maidens by Barbara Hambly

Blood Maidens

by Barbara Hambly

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Centuries ago, the ancient vampire Don Simon Ysidro fell in love with a mortal woman. Entranced by the idea of eternal life, Lady Irene managed to get turned into a vampire as well. It was only then that she discovered the truth of Ysidro's warnings--that upon becoming Undead, all interests and morals are overwhelmed by the seduction of killing human prey. She and Ysidro have had little contact since...until she hears a rumor that the war-mongering Kaiser has recruited a vampire. Ysidro enlists the help of James Asher, formerly of the Queen's Secret Service, to accompany him on his search for answers.

This is a beautiful book. Hambly's stories of the Ashers and Ysidro (which began in the equally superlative [b:Those Who Hunt the Night|176261|Those Who Hunt the Night (James Asher, #1)|Barbara Hambly|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1223642807s/176261.jpg|1229981]) are always the very best that vampire fiction can be. Her grasp of history is sure and faultless. Her characterizations deep and multi-faceted. And her vampires are the creepiest, scariest, most seductive creatures of the night I've ever read. ( )
  wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |
I probably say this every time I review a Barbara Hambly novel: I've loved her books for years. She wrote vampire novels before they were clichéd, the series that began with Those Who Hunt the Night, of which this is the third book.

Her use of metaphor and simile is one of the loveliest things I know of in fiction. "The woman put back her veil – champagne-colored point-lace that wouldn't have stopped a glance, let alone sunlight". "Ellen bridled like a coy percheron." There are few authors who can come close to matching her, and none can surpass her. Her sentences are things of beauty which create miracles of character and setting. In a sea of mediocre freebies and ARCs, she is utterly reliable. "Reliable" may not be one of the sexier compliments one can give – but when it comes to reliable enjoyability, reliable skill, reliable wonder, reliable joy … every author should be so complimentable. ( )
  Stewartry | Jan 10, 2016 |
If you're nauseated by sparkly, angst-ridden teenage vampires, and you like your dark suspense with wit and political savvy, check out Blood Maidens, the third in Barbara Hambly's turn-of-the-century vampire novels. It's as much mystery as it is adventure or spy novel or horror, both fast-paced and literate. It stands well on its own, although the previous two are highly recommended.

Hambly's vampires are neither sparkly nor nice. They're dark and dangerous, and on the eve of World War I, the Kaiser would very much like to enlist them as his agents. Not that this is any concern of the vampires themselves, existing as they do in their own separate, hidden world, one in which even the pleasures of the mind eventually wear away into apathy. (One of the most poignant images in the novel is a once-beloved harp, so long disused that its stings have turned to rust.) Enter James Asher, ex-British spy and former uneasy and unwilling ally of the Renaissance vampire, Don Simon Ysidro. Asher's search for Ysidro's missing friend takes him to St. Petersburg, from its daylight fads for the supernatural and spiritualism, fueled by Rasputin's utterances, to its nightly contest between two claimants to the mastery of the vampire population, to a mysterious woman who by all reason must be a vampire...except she appears in public in daylight. Hambly neatly connects the belief in spontaneous human combustion to the fate of vampires exposed to sunlight.

One set of questions gives rise to the next, with the threat of a German-vampire alliance overshadowing the landscape of Europe, all tempered by Hambly's deft and humane touch. ( )
  rosstrowbridge | Feb 15, 2012 |
As always, Barbara Hambly turns in a strong, well-crafted genre novel. Despite the involvement of vampires, it more closely follows a mystery novel set-up and development than a traditional horror or romance. Clever characters with a meticulously researched setting made this a fun read. ( )
  mbg0312 | Feb 14, 2012 |
Review from Badelynge
I'd pretty much given up on there ever being anymore James Asher vampire books by Barbara Hambly. It's 15 years since Traveling With the Dead was published. In recent years much of her output has been dominated with her Benjamin January books. Blood Maidens picks up the story in 1911. War is waiting for a spark to start the firestorm. Former secret service agent James Asher is manipulated/recruited again by the ancient Spanish vampire Don Simon Ysidro. Asher and Ysidro travel across Europe tracking down a missing female vampire and follow rumours of experimentation on vampires and unexplained spontaneous combustion. Drawn into the mystery and danger is Asher's studious wife Lydia. The combination of Hambly's meticulous historical research, intricate plotting, three vibrant characters and Hambly's talent for making the night seem perilous makes for a great vampire story. Along the way she explores the psychology of vampires in depth which underpins the richness of the characters and the choices they make. This is a true vampire novel, full of darkness, and peril which is refreshing considering how neutered by the whole teen romance brigade the vampire has become today. The vampires here are as they should be; inhuman, hypnotic seducers, lethal, merciless, manipulative and contemptuous of humanity. I hope Hambly writes some more. ( )
  Finxy | Jan 29, 2011 |
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Fog muffled the sound of screaming.
'Each time, I delude myself that I have beheld the limit of money wasted by rulers in praise of their own glory, yet I am humbled anew. 'Tis enough to make one believe there is a God.'
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0727869477, Hardcover)

The new ‘James Asher’ vampire novel from the best-selling author - It’s 1911. War is coming, and according to one of the vampires of St. Petersburg, the Kaiser is trying to recruit vampires. James Asher, Oxford don and formerly on His Majesty’s Secret Service, is forced to team up again with his vampire partner Don Simon Ysidro for a journey to the subarctic Russian capital. Are they on the trail of a rogue vampire with a plan to achieve the power to walk in daylight? Asher wonders. Or is Ysidro’s real agenda to seek the woman he once loved?

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:28 -0400)

James Asher and his vampire partner Don Simon Ysidro travel to St. Petersburg in 1911 to investigate whether or not the kaiser is trying to build an army of vampires in preparation for war.

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