Archive for Reviews

The Clan Novel Saga: Brujah


Clan Novel: Brujah covers the action of the third phase of the war between the Sabbat and Camarilla, focusing on events between October 14 and November 11 of 1999. It is Book 11 in the original clan novel saga, and was published in April 2000. It was written by Gherbod Fleming, who provided five of the thirteen novels in the set.

The Sabbat is preparing to assault and take over Baltimore. We primarily follow the Brujah Archon, Theo Bell, who leads the patrols and defense teams. His boss, the Brujah Justicar Pascek, shows up to help root out the mole “Lucius” who has been feeding plans to the Sabbat. Through blinds, double-feints, and false information, the treachery and chicanery is cranked to 10 with the revelation of “Lucius” – this ploy is effective, as his identity was hidden from nearly all the characters, not just the reader. (Continue Reading…)

The Clan Novel Saga: Giovanni


Clan Novel: Giovanni covers events that happen between June 20 and November 4, 1999. It is Book 10 in the original clan novel saga, and was published in April 2000. It was written by Justin Achilli, and this is his sole contribution to this saga.

If Tzimisce is the Saw of the series, Giovanni is the 8MM. Tzimisce is full of monster monsters, but this one is full of monsters that could simply be awful humans. This book epitomizes the Black Dog ethos of White Wolf, which was their mature line of supplemental material that was too raw for inclusion in the primary books. They wanted those supplements to have the same feel as a porn mag in an opaque sleeve behind the counter. (Continue Reading…)

The Clan Novel Saga: Malkavian


Clan Novel: Malkavian starts with flashbacks to 1788 before primary focus returns after the siege of Atlanta, with activities running from June 22 through October 20, 1999. It is Book 9 in the original clan novel saga, and was published in March 2000. It was written by Stewart Wieck, who also wrote the Toreador novel. My hopes of this book being better than that one were mercilessly crushed early on.

I loved that the modern portion of this book started in Bosnia, reflecting an interesting sign of the times. That chapter of military activity is something that Americans do their best to forget ever happened. It’s fenced out of popular memory as an uncomfortable reminder of tragedies that were debatably mitigated through international actions. With the hindsight of 20 years available, a powerful metaphor could have been developed here. Then again, this author couldn’t even build a metaphor or call back to include the Burning of Atlanta in 1864, so I’ll just stick with my headcanon. (Continue Reading…)

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. (Continue Reading…)

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. (Continue Reading…)

The Clan Novel Saga: Tremere


Clan Novel: Tremere covers events that start after the fall of Atlanta and into the second phase of the war between the Sabbat and Camarilla on July 18, 1999 and continues through September 24 of the same year. It is Book 12 in the original clan novel saga, and was published in June 2000. While this book is next to last in the series, all the events within it end before the conclusion of half of the books in the series. While its placement in the series order should reveal major events leading up to the end, it never quite delivers on that promise. It was written by Eric Griffin, who also wrote the Tzimisce book. (Continue Reading…)

The Clan Novel Saga: Lasombra


Clan Novel: Lasombra covers events that start after the fall of Atlanta and activity in Washington, D.C. really get rolling on July 16, 1999 and continues through September 22 of the same year, following the second phase of the war covering the assaults on Buffalo and Hartford. It is Book 6 in the original clan novel saga, and was published in September 1999. It was written by Richard Dansky, and this (along with one story in the Anthology) is his sole contribution to the saga. While I was updating blog posts in the back catalog, this name tickled memories. Connecting that he contributed to this series is one of the inciting events that caused me to start on this journey. He has published two original stories with PseudoPod, including “Good Advice” — the second full length story to go out across our feed — as well as “Connecting Door,” which remains one of my favorite stories about the horrors of traveling and the misery of the thin walls of hotels. He lent his voice to two more stories in our first couple of years. Checking out his other work here is worth your time.

https://pseudopod.org/people/richard-e-dansky/

https://pseudopod.org/2006/08/25/pseudopod-002-good-advice/

https://pseudopod.org/2007/11/16/pseudopod-064-connecting-door/

(Continue Reading…)

The Clan Novel Saga: Ventrue


Clan Novel: Ventrue covers events that happen between June 25 and August 27, 1999. It is Book 5 in the original clan novel saga, and was published in August 1999. It was written by Gherbod Fleming, who provided five of the thirteen novels in the set. It picks up just before the displacement of the Ventrue prince of Washington, D.C. and follows the second phase of the war where the Camarilla attempt to defend territory and the Sabbat consolidate and slowly advance.

This book strongly follows the meta-plot, and follows the machinations of the different factions trying to defend or take territory. The major strategic change is the withdrawal of the Camarilla from Buffalo and ceding the city to the Sabbat. However, the details of this campaign are much more effectively covered in the Lasombra novel. Oh, and the Gangrel quit the Camarilla because the Ventrue ignore Xavier’s plea to stomp the grease out of the Tortured Artist with the Artifact who mopped the floor with him in the Gangrel novel. (Continue Reading…)