Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Immanuel's Veins

Vampires are one of the latest fads in books and movies, both as antagonists and protagonists. Creatures in one moment beautiful, worldly, and sophisticated, and in the next, blood-thristy, brutal, and deadly. If you are looking for a good vampire story, then perhaps you might consider Ted Dekker's Immanuel's Veins. This story takes place in 18th century Moldavia, just a stones throw over the Carpathian Mountains from Transylvania. The Russian empress Catherine the Great has sent Toma Nicolescu, one of her most trusted warriors, to protect a family of local nobility, Kesia Cantemir and her two beautiful daughters Natasha and Lucine. Catherine views the two unwed daughters as valuable political cards. If appropriate royal suitors can be found for this Russian-controlled land, then alliances can be forged and her empire strengthened.

Natasha has embraced her mother's passions for life, food, wine, and a different bed every night. Lucine is much more careful where she lays her affections. Yet, she and Toma develop an undeniable spark almost instantly. Toma's defense of the Cantemir's, and especially Lucine, from a strangely dark and aggressive group of Russians from a neighboring castle, seems to go beyond duty. Yet Natasha is intrigued by these people and is pulled under their spell and control. She becomes drunk with their passion, spirits, and ways. Lucine too becomes confused and ensnared in this web, and follows Natasha to the Russian castle and is seduced by the patriarch Vlad Van Valerik. She gets pulled in before she fully understands the great peril that she has placed herself in. The heart embraces what it should flee.

When Toma finds out the truth of who these Russians are from an otherworldly friar, he sets out to rescue his beloved Lucine and face-off against the half-breed Vlad and his coven. Yet while his skills as a warrior are well-honed in conventional combat, he faces this showdown armed with nothing more than a handful of wooden stakes, a book, a crucifix, and an overwhelming sense of uncertainty. Dekker takes his time laying out each part of the narrative and painting the mood. His love scenes are powerfully written and really help you understand the vampire lure and the power in their blood. A very nice effort and a thoroughly enjoyable tale.