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    Review of TRAITOR TO THE BLOOD by Barb and J. C. Hendee (see their website)


    ROC, January 2006

    Half-vampire Magiere and half-elf Leesil, along with elf-dog Chap and sage Wynn head for the troubled Warlands ruled by Lord Darmouth. Darmouth had once enslaved Leesil, forcing him to serve as assassin--with Leesil's parent's lives hostage to his behavior. Years before, Leesil had snapped, fled the country, and left his parents behind. Now he's heard rumors that his mother might have survived and returns to discover the truth.

    Leesil and his party are followed by two vampires with their own goals. They wish that Leesil and Magiere would get on with their quest for a mysterious orb--an orb that might make it possible for a vampire never to need to feed again. One of the vampires is also drawn to protect Wynn, the only person who ever treated him well. They plan to kill Darmouth if doing so will hurry Magiere along on her journey.

    Killing Darmouth sounds like a great idea. He has ruined his kingdom, set himself up for civil war and invasion, drafted so many men into his army that his nation is starving from lack of workers, executed most of his nobles, and keeps himself on his thrown only by constantly threatening his remaining followers, holding their families hostage to their behavior. Since Leesil hates Darmouth, and since both locals, the vampires, and elvish assassins are set to murder that lord, it seems that there should be no problem. Except Leesil has decided that the power vacuum following Darmouth's death would be worse than his life. Oddly, therefore, Leesil decides that his goal is to keep the evil lord alive--and to continue his faltering and ruinous rule.

    Authors Barb and J. C. Hendee create an interesting world, adding vampires to the familiar elvish and human races. Magiere, daughter of a vampire father makes a high-potential character and Leesil is certainly tortured enough to be sympathetic. Their decision to support the evil lord because of some feared disaster, however, makes them profoundly unsympathetic. Fighting for what might be the lesser evil is always a tricky goal in a novel. Fighting for the lesser evil when it isn't at all clear that it really is lesser, or that no alternate choice exists, is even more tricky. Since Darmouth will, eventually die anyway, Leesil is compromising his beliefs with only a delay, rather than elimination of the problem he seeks to deal with.

    TRAITOR TO THE BLOOD offers plenty of action, vampires, secret passages, shape-shifters, romantic angst, a conflicted protagonist (Leesil) who may be especially sympathetic to younger readers with their own age-related uncertainties, and it's well written (by a pair of English teachers, no less). If onlyl these interesting characters had been doing something that was not so obviously doomed and undesirable in the first place.

    Two Stars

    Reviewed 6/08/06

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