The Clan Novel Saga: Tzimisce

Clan Novel: Tzimisce covers events that happen on and around the attack on Atlanta on the evenings of June 19 through July 7, 1999. I read Part 1: The War Council (6/19-21) before the TOREADOR book, the Part 2: The Firedance (6/22) and Part 3: The Deception (6/22-7/2) after TOREADOR. After TZIMISCE, I went to Part 1 of SETITE. TZIMISCE is Book 2 in the original clan novel saga and was published in May 1999. It was written by Eric Griffin, who also wrote the Tremere novel.

Let’s take a moment to appreciate the lush cover art. The vampire depicted is monstrous in countenance and action, enjoying a meal in debauched hedonism. Surrounding the primary figure are leering faces born of nightmare with just enough detail to suggest the worst in the shadows.

This book follows the Sabbat vampire plans to attack Atlanta in order to depose the Camirilla vampires. Then we see the slaughter in the High Museum of Art during Victoria Ash’s summer solstice party from the first book, and finishes with the run up the seaboard and the displacement of the prince of Washington DC. The Tzimisce are much more enjoyable monsters who revel in being monsters, and it’s interesting to see them primarily through the lens of a number of characters from other clans, mostly Lasombra and Nosferatu. And the Lasombra presented in this book were a pure delight, particularly the ones in Part 1. I do wish there had been a little less “as you know, Bob” conversations in the first section, but they’re worlds better than the infodumps we got in the Toreador clan novel.

The opening letter is lush and delightful – full-throated Stoker fanfic. It made me glad I decided to make this excursion.

My Dearest Vykos,

How can I describe to you my feelings upon hearing from you again after so many years? Words are rough clay vessels that tend to crack when filled with such emotions—emotions that run deep and span lifetimes. I had thought you lost to me for all time.

To learn that you are not only alive, but here! It is altogether too much to hope for. It is almost better to believe this is all some cruel joke or perhaps a cunning trap. Between Truth and Treachery, the latter is much the more constant mistress. She never strays far from my side these nights.

This love letter goes on floridly, and is signed by Lucius. I don’t recall where we’ve been introduced to this Lucius in the first couple books, but since the book opens and closes with love letters to our primary Tzimisce character, I expect it will be revealed in due time.

Part 2 is all action and the pacing is solid. That said, I was a little disappointed in the portrayal of Atlanta. Mostly we just got to see the High Museum of Art some more, along with its parking deck. There are massive missed opportunities with the burning of Atlanta, particularly considering several key scenes in the middle section. Prince Benison Hodge is an ex-Confederate General and one of the few effective warriors fighting off the Sabbat invasion. During one scene he envisions he is with his troops on Kennesaw Mountain, holding back the Union troops. The problem with the analogy is that Kennesaw was a very successful defensive point, and the Union rolled around the flank of it on the way to burn Atlanta. So while the prince lives, everyone else dies, and his city burns. Atlanta has such a terrible track record with historic preservation, and the city has been torn down by reconstructive development patterns so many times in the last century, that the city seal includes a phoenix. The prince reliving the burning of Atlanta would have been so much more resonant than the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain. Maybe there’s hope for a better metaphor over the course of the novels. I hope this gets paid off.

Part 3 is soft-core torture porn: first with Vykos and the Tailor each torturing their captive acquired during the first book; followed by the Sabbat warbands who burn their way up the coast, in some warped reflection of Sherman. There’s lots of malicious, spattery detail in the back section of this book.

We only have one primary Tzimisce, Sacha Vykos, who is the general of the Sabbat sent over from the European masters to lead the warbands up the coast. There is a significant secondary Tzimisce of the Tailor who makes war ghouls, and a smattering of supporting Tzimisce. We spend most of our time with Vykos. The little time with the Tailor is mostly in his interactions with his crafted war ghouls, and then later with the lurid torture of Victoria Ash. Her suffering almost made me forget that she’s an unrepentant Carpetbagger. Overall, it’s a relatively fun novel with a good amount of grisly action. A worthy entry in this saga.

The initial post: The Clan Novel Saga: A Revisitation

The next post: Setite