We have reached the series’ half, which is a turning point. An age has come to an end. But first, let me tell you what’s going on. As always, there will be spoilers. And unless you’ve read the fifth book, you shouldn’t read any further.
It’s been 4 weeks since Frederic’s defeat and the Turkish have ceased their siege on Vienna. Andrej and Abu Dun came to Hungary, to find a woman from Andrej’s past – Maria. On a snowwhite field, they run across several corpses, and a strange white owl. A farmer tells them that the mysterious “Blood Countess” and her servant, who live in the nearby castle, must be behind those killings, as he suspects them also to be responsible for serveral girl-kidnappings. Andrej and Abu Dun promiss to find out the truth, but before they can talk to the countess, the must face her servant, an even more mysterious person in white – Antoine Blanche. He manages the unthinkable: defeating both immortals singlehandly, though being only a human – seemingly.
He lets them live, only to invite Andrej some time later to the castle, where he finally meets the Countess Barthory, who turns out to be none other than redheired Maria, his long lost love. She is an immortal like him, Blanche, also a vampyre, turned her. The couple relive their relationship, but Abu Dun becomes envious and leaves. After Blanche goes away too, they live happily ever after.
Just kidding. Maria’s young servant’s boyfriend Stanik sneaks into the castle, while Andrej makes a terrible discovery: The rumors about Maria are true, as he finds her bathing in the girl’s blood. Stanik also witnesses this and runs away. Andrej tries to stop him, while a fire in the castle breaks out. In the forest, Andrej and Stanik encounter a huge spider- like creature, one of Blanche’s pets. Andrej injures it badly with his sword, and they return to the burning castle.
In the catacombs they find the girl and a weak, dying Maria. Andrej shares his blood, his power, only to discover that it isn’t Maria, never has been Maria at all, but Blanche, who is a shapeshifter. Having become interested in Andrej after Frederic’s tales, he has wanted to meet him. He then turns into a monstrous creature, a pool of every creature he/ IT has ever been. Only the combined power of Andrej’s and Abu Dun’s Vampyre they manage to overcome and defeat it.
So, in Volume V, we had a great build-up for the things to come. Also, our expectations were high after the brilliant fifth part. Can this book fullfill these expectation?
Not really. The book is too thick for having so little plot/ action. But it is therefore a good character-development. The relationship between Andrej and Maria, and also Abu Dun, is really well done. Blanche is also intimidating, though you guess from the first appearence on that he is the villain. You subsequently also reckon that Maria will be an antagonist too, and that Andrej will have to choose between her and his friendship to Abu Dun. It’s a quite tearing conflict.
It’s kinda pity that the book doesn’t go this way, but at least there is an excuse and a surprising reveal at the end. Hohlbein took on the fans’ questions about Maria and their requests to bring her back. But he also tricked the fans by doing so.
He set this adventure in Hungary in 1529 and connected “Maria” to the famous Blood Countess. Elizabeth (Erzebeth) Barthory has been living in Hungary around 1600. She was royal, and she was accused of being a blood thirsty monster, and bathed in the bllod of virgins the regain her youth. Whether it is true or not is still uncertain. She may have been a victim of a political complot against her.
Here is an image from the movie “Hostel 2”, where a “Mrs. Barthory” is taking a blood bath: http://i108.photobucket.com/albums/n34/mortis45/bathory.jpg
Hohlbein lets Maria become a vampire, the Blood Countess. Her hair has changed, from black to red, but Andrej doesn’t seem to notice, but till the end. It’s either a giant plothole or a good example of how people can forget what people looked like. It’s been half a century since they last met, and they haven’t been together much of that time then.
There are only three fight scenes in this book, and the middle part can get really boring some times. But I say it is on the same level as “The Vampyre”.