Dark Ages: Assasmite
Dark Ages: Assasmite Capsule Review by Maz Fallah on 15/02/03
Style: 3 (Average)
Substance: 4 (Meaty)
A novel that shows both sides of the Crusades, giving understanding for the Assamites by the comparison with the Crusaders. It focuses on the people in the story and is more of a mystery than an action story. It's well done and entertaining.
Product: Dark Ages: Assasmite
Author: Stefan Petrucha
Company/Publisher: White Wolf Publishing
Line: World of Darkness
Page count: 277
Year published: 2002
Comp copy?: yes
Capsule Review by Maz Fallah on 15/02/03
Genre tags: Historical Vampire
The first thing to note about this book is that it's the second in a 13 book series. This is the Dark Ages series of Vampire the Masquerade novels. The first one was Dark Ages: Nosferatu. The novels are set, not surprisingly, in the Dark Ages. They give a glimpse into the Vampire history hinted at in various supplements and sourcebooks, by giving an account from the night side.
The novel is set in 1204, after the Fourth Crusade has sacked Constantinople. Much of the novel revolves around the exploits of Sir Hugh, a Knight and a vampire of the Ventrue clan. He purports to receive visions from the Virgin Mary, and wants to take the Crusade into the Middle East and eventually to recapture Jerusalem.
Of course, this is a novel about the Assamites. They will not let that happen easily, and of course, there is our history. And thus, we're introduced to an Assamite warrior and a sorceror. That's all of the plot I'll give away.
But how was the book? Well, the one thing that annoyed me was the present-day wrapper. The very start and end of the book is in the present, with the rest being set back in the past. It bothers me because it's like watching a movie which starts with you watching someone sitting down to watch a movie.
The book is very well done. The author uses the juxtaposition of the Holy vampires in the Crusade, in the person of Hugh, with the Children of Haqim. This paints a picture of the Assamites that is refreshingly unbiased in religious prejudice. Part of that is due to the fact that very little depth is given to the religion and more time is spent on the dark side of the Crusades, making the Assamites nobler in comparison. They are, after all, protecting their homes, and we can understand that. This comparative mechanic works really well. Both sides engender sympathy. Both sides are somewhat right and somewhat wrong.
Most of the story revolves around the characters: their beliefs, motivations, and growth. It's not a story about war. The character growth is a plot unto itself. The plot also has twists and turns that keep it interesting and entertaining. And that's what the book is, entertaining. It's not a history lesson on the Assamites, though you may understand them better. It's a novel, to be read for fun. And that's what it accomplishes. It does require a bit of knowledge of the World of Darkness to help the reader understand the vampiric powers. But for anyone with that knowledge, it's worth a read.