My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Vampire Crusader follows the adventures of young knight Sir Richard of Ashbury who battles the terrifying William de Ferrer throughout history.
The story is vivid and gripping, and you find yourself enthralled in the world the author has created. It is obvious a great deal of research has gone into the historical elements of the book and this only adds to its authenticity. Such characters as King Richard the Lionheart (who until know only existed as Sean Connery in my head!) are brought to life as living, breathing characters rather than names from history. This particular entry in the series follows the Crusades where Richard, through his pursuit for vengeance, finds himself following King Richard to battle in the Holy Land against Saladin and his armies. Whilst the focus is on Richard and his personal story, this is subtly blended in with the wider events as a whole which gives a wider context to the story and its events.
Whilst the novel is about vampires, it is done in a subtle way rather than having any kind of stereotypes (both modern and old) that scream “vampire story”. These creatures are strong, fast and savage, but from the perspective of our hero and those around them they are obviously different, but treated with an air of mystery that I look forward to exploring in future books in the series.
I should also draw attention to the depictions of combat within the novel. It is gritty, brutal but feels so authentic. Rarely have I read battle scenes where I could practically feel the cut of the blade through muscle or the breaking of bone and cartilage. It’s grim, but necessarily so and really adds to the realistic feel of the book.
Richard himself is an interesting character. You feel through his narration the years of hell he’s been through (over 800 years of them!) without him having to explicitly describe them. This is a hero who’s been through hell many times over, and there’s almost a world-weariness about him that layers his perspective. When some of the bad things happen to him (and I mean, bad!) you genuinely feel the rage he feels and I was racing through the pages purely to see if the wrong-doers would get their comeuppance.
As the story progresses more layers are peeled back in both on the vampire mythology itself and Richard’s history. There’s an excellent balance of both that promises good things for book 2.
Really enjoyed Vampire Crusader. Once I’d picked it up I raced through it. Recommend.