The Clan Novel Saga: Ravnos

Clan Novel: Ravnos covers events that start immediately after the end of the Setite book, and fits nicely with it, particularly since both were written by Kathleen Ryan. The events start on July 28, 1999 and continue through October 12 of the same year. It is Book 8 in the original clan novel saga, and was published in January 2000. This book was another of the highlights of the series, and the skillful character work makes me hunger for more fiction from Kathleen Ryan.

Our primary Ravnos is Khalil, who was extracted from Calcutta during the Setite novel. A few more Ravnos make appearances, but they have all been killed by the end of the book. Apparently, most of the clan has been destroyed by the awakening of some very powerful old vampire, which is possibly the founder of that clan. And frankly, it’s probably him stepping in to correct one of the game system’s most tragically baked-in bits of racism. The clan is primarily Romani in origin, and their clan curse is a compulsive need to lie, cheat, and steal. This is not the best look for the World of Darkness, so it’s better to destroy them all and allow something else to arise from the ashes. Kathleen manages to sidestep some of the worst of this by having Khalil be an Indian of the Untouchable caste, and the book probes the edges of that different set of culturally reinforced classism.

This book focuses on The Eye of Hazimel, as well as the slumbering Hazimel whispering in Khalil’s ear and guiding his actions. Khalil is a jerk, but pretty much every other character is great. Through his hubris, he double-crosses both the Camarilla and the Sabbat and is chased out of town, and manages to fool himself that he’s largely free from Hazimel’s influence. At least Khalil saved Elizabeth, who Hesha had staked out for the sun at the end of the last book for her perfidy. Ramona, our POV character from the Gangrel book, joins the team to hunt for the Eye to fulfil her desire for revenge for what was done to her clanmates. That hunger and how it provokes the beast within her is skillfully conveyed. As she learns that Khalil is no longer of assistance on her mission of revenge, Ramona assists Elizabeth in escaping everyone, then teams up with Hesha to hunt down Leopold.

Leopold was the most pleasant surprise of the book, as usually he holds less interest for me than a Sansa chapter. He had been relieved of his eye off-screen, but his need awoke him from his torporous state. In the first act of this book, this Gollum Renfield is back to find his precious, and drives much of the action. Kathleen managed to make Leopold interestingly tragic.

Absentmindedly, he glanced down at the scrap of metal in his hand. The badge had melted beneath his fingers and become a woman’s head in miniature. Leopold smiled. Victoria. She was part of what was lost. He flicked the contours of the cheeks and hair, and another face emerged. My muse. The tiny lips and eyes opened. Leopold found this quite natural. She called upon him—she urged him onward.

The power to shape had returned to him. Joyfully, he broke into a run. His feet hardly touched the ground—up streets—around corners—across traffic, when that was shortest. Cars crashed around him, and some poor mortals cried out—cursing, jeering, warning each other about the madman in the middle of the avenue—Leopold neither heard nor cared. The Eye had returned. The Muse had led him to it and it to him, as surely as lovers meeting. So close, now…he darted between two buildings and felt the last obstacles pass by.

When The Eye is finally back in his possession, Leopold thinks “Journeys end in lovers’ meeting.” I wonder if he ever finds his cup of stars.

The initial post: The Clan Novel Saga: A Revisitation

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