Bloodborn by Nathan Long
Black Library Publishing
Ulrika Magdova, reluctant vampire, is struggling to control her thirst for blood.
For the protection of herself and others, a coven of vampires has given Ulrika sanctuary, so she can safely adapt to a life of darkness. But before she learns to control her strange new powers, that sanctuary is endangered.
In the city of Nuln something is preying upon this ancient race, and threatening to expose their existence to the nation. A witchhunt has begun and people are calling for the destruction of the vampires. With nowhere to hide, Ulrika and her mentor, the Countess Gabriella, must hunt down this mysterious killer before they become its next victims.
Let me start by saying that vampires have never really been my thing. Other than loving Gary Oldman as Dracula and staring at Kate Beckinsale I haven’t been attracted to them the way many people are. I have always thought of vampires as being great villains when done right, but more often than not, they are done all wrong in the worst kind of way. Yeah that’s right Twilight; I am looking at you….
Anyway, I was intrigued with this novel before I bought it. I first came across Nathan Long a few years ago when I read his Blackhearts series and just loved it. Since then Mr. Long has taken over the Gotrek & Felix series (read it and love it, because it’s that awesome) after William King went on hiatus from the Black Library. Long is a very different writer than William King, but has made the characters his own and the last couple of books have been good.
The main character of this story, Ulrika Magdova, was a character created by William King who appeared in several of the old Gotrek and Felix novels. During the events of Vampire Slayer (the 6th G&F Novel), Ulrika was kidnapped by a vampire who eventually gave her the red kiss so that she would remain by his side forever. However, things did not go his way after Gotrek and Felix showed up.
Bloodborn picks up Ulrika’s story after she was left in the care of vampire Countess Gabriella. Unfortunately, Ulrika has not had time to adjust to her new life before the Countess is required to become involved in a crisis threatening a community of vampires living within the city of Nuln.
The vampires of the Warhammer world are unique. According to the history of the setting, they were an unintended byproduct of experiments and ceremonies derived from the works of Nagash, an extremely powerful Necromancer and one of the great villains of Warhammer fantasy. Modern vampires are all descendents from an original group of diverse characters. The traits of those first vampires have carried through to their descendents resulting in unique vampire bloodlines. The countess belongs to a clan of vampires called the Lahmians who follow a code of conduct based around using their powers of seduction to clandestinely influence human civilization.
Nathan Long took on quite a challenge with this novel. It is much more than just the story of Ulrika’s struggle to come to terms with being a vampire. In addition to resisting her bloodthirst and learning to control her new powers, Ulrika is also forced to learn about and conform to a complex and highly political vampire culture. The Lahmian way is also foreign to Ulrika who was a warrior aristocrat used to speaking plainly and acting honorably. Long added further depth to Ulrika’s predicament by using the normal humans in the story to drive home just how alien and isolated her life had become.
I also enjoyed how the vampire culture and bloodlines were fleshed out within the story. While the vast majority of this was devoted to the Lahimans, Long did justice to the background by pointing out some of the distinctions between the vampire groups.
I was not expecting this particular novel to be the action packed detective story it turned out to be. This is as enjoyable a “who done it” as I have come across over the last several years.
This is not really a fair comment, but there were some parts of the novel I found to be a bit frilly for my taste. This is entirely unavoidable though as the novel is focused on a clan of feuding vampire seductresses and all of their intrigues.
Given Long’s well done description of the vampires within the book and the climax of the story, it would have made sense for him to spare a few lines explaining what exactly a “Strigoi” vampire was. Readers unfamiliar with the setting are not going to be familiar with the term.
The layers of this book are what make it so much fun. Between the likable and identifiable protagonist, interesting depiction of Warhammer vampires, and action packed detective story, you are all set for an exciting ride. Nathan Long has begun what looks like will be a thoroughly enjoyable series and I’m looking forward to the next installment.