Saturday, October 22, 2011

Immanuel's Veins by Ted Dekker



With Halloween coming up we’ve got to have a vampire book, so here’s my review of Immanuel’s Veins by Ted Dekker. The year is 1772 and the hero and narrator is Toma Nicolescu, a soldier in the service of Catherine the Great. The Empress sends him to Moldavia, to the country estate of the Cantemir family, seated at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains, just west of Transylvania. With his trusty friend Alex Cardei, he sets out on his mission, to protect the family in these times of political unrest, but, the Empress warns, steer clear of the notorious Cantemir sisters—impetuous blonde Natascha and wise brunette Lucine who, unlike the typical 18th century nobly born girl, have been brought up to live their lives for love, in pursuit of pleasure and passion. A marriage between one of them and a member of the Russian royal family may even be in the works, so they are officially off limits.

Of course, Toma and Alek ignore this and they soon pair up with the sisters, Toma with Lucine and Alek with Natascha. But Alek soon finds he has a rival, Natasha just can’t keep away from Castle Castile and the mysterious men and women who live there, living for pleasure sake and imbibing a special wine that bears a strong resemblance to blood; she repeatedly sneaks out at night to join them. But if you can’t beat them join them and Alek soon joins Natascha on her nocturnal visits and soon he is enthralled as she is and it is up to Toma and Lucine to put a stop to these antics and restore them to their senses. But Alek and Natascha don’t want to be rescued and instead try to convert them to the Russian’s free-love, do-as-you-please, live only for pleasure’s sake, lifestyle: “They are the model of love. The pounding of the heart, the touch of lips. They are God’s gift to the world, to love as you would be loved, with intense affection.”

More complications arise when the lord of Castle Castile, Vlad von Valerik, asks permission to court Lucine and her mother urges her to accept him, and, realizing that Vlad may be the marriage prospect the Empress spoke of, Toma finds himself turn between his love for Lucine and duty to the Empress and his country.

After tasting the Russians’ special wine, Toma blacks out in the embrace of Sofia, one of the mysterious Russian coven, and thus Lucine comes upon him. Soon afterwards, though Toma has decided to follow his heart come what may and damn the consequences, he will risk the ire of the Empress, Lucine decides to accept Vlad’s suit and begins to succumb to his charm and desire to please her. But after he bites her lip and she complains of the pain he suddenly becomes violent, and there are no more words of love and tenderness.

And like the hero of any vampire movie, Toma must save his beloved, but more perils and trials await him, and obstacles to overcome. But with the help of a mysterious old blind man who calls himself Thomas and gives Tomas a mysterious volume called The Blood Book that describes the origin of the Nephilim (the word vampire is never used in the book), the evil beings born of unions between fallen angels and human females, and, armed with this treasure trove of knowledge, and a new-found belief in God, Tomas returns to Castle Castile determined to save the woman he loves and slay the evil Vlad.

There’s really nothing new under the sun or moon where vampire fiction is concerned, but it’s still an interesting and entertaining tale. I personally would have liked a better sense of history as window dressing for the story, there were a few modern words that seemed out of place, like “slacks” instead of "trousers" or "breeches", and I’m not sure the term “party people” was used in 18th century Russia, but these are really minor points, little rocks in the road that shouldn’t be allowed to spoil this stirring tale of romance and adventure and good versus evil.




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