The Clan Novel Saga: Assamite

Clan Novel: Assamite generally remains aloof of the beginning of the war between the factions. It does not get deeply involved until the second phase of the war that was particularly highlighted in the Lasombra novel, and ends with events on October 6, 1999. It is Book 7 in the original clan novel saga, and was published in December 1999. It was written by Gherbod Fleming, who provided five of the thirteen novels in the set.

This book’s central conflict is Fatima’s assignment to kill the biggest player behind the Sabbat war on the American east coast — Cardinal Monçada, and how it conflicts with Fatima’s affection for his childe, Lucita. I’m glad the Lasombra book came before this one, as Lucita is more difficult to appreciate here; she’s more crass in this book than the brash and confident we saw previously. There’s an excellent sapphic scene between Fatima and Lucita that not only shows their affection for one another, but is strategic as well – Fatima having Lucita’s blood inside her masks her presence from the wards protecting the temple from outsiders. This plays a critical role in the showdown under the temple in the third act. This is some of the best action in the series.

We’re shown a different assassin for every section in July. The most illuminating of these is the death of the Tremere inside the Camarilla stronghold in Baltimore. We get a little more motive, but little forward action. The Tremere deaths at the hands of Assamites have evidenced a lot of effort to imply a shadowy pattern. Unfortunately, this book shows less a grand strategy and more a general policy preference in that direction, with vague support from above. While there’s historical enmity between these two clans (one cursed the other – now that the curse is broken, revenge is being sought), the deaths aren’t shown as exceptionally strategic, and there’s no single guiding vision behind those kills. There was a narrative opportunity to really build something significant, but that opportunity felt squandered. This is another book in the set that is largely self-contained and could stand on its own, but it would need that greater conspiracy or strategy to make effective those plot points outside Fatima’s.

The thematic core of this novel is how faith can or cannot reside within the vampire world. We’re shown a respectful treatment of Islam, and Fatima’s struggle between her faith and her loyalty to the prophet who founded the clan. While the conflict is threatened, we never get to see a decision point that sets the two at odds. However, it provided some interesting introspection. Cardinal Monçada provides a conflicting viewpoint as a fallen Catholic priest whose faith is a weapon. It is a scourge against his own undead flesh during repentance, and a club against others. There’s an effective scene where he disciplines Lucita, and punctuates every blow with a relevant proverb. In the world where monsters are descended from Cain, the first murderer, the question of faith and its place is never quite answered. This personal journey is ripe for further exploration.

The initial post: The Clan Novel Saga: A Revisitation

The next post: Ravnos