Originally published in Russia in 2005, Twilight Forever Rising tells the story of Darel Ericson of the Dahanavar clan. Darel is a “scanner” for his family–an empath, and so strong that he can also sometimes read the thoughts of those around him. The Dahanavar use his abilities while dealing with the other powerful vampire clans, both to gain the upper hand in political maneuverings and to rent him as an asset while the other clans broker agreements.
Darel finds himself quite taken with a young human woman, only eighteen and soft and vital and all things that vampires, who slowly become numb and lose their vitality as they age, are not. It isn’t long that he and his human companion, Loraine, become the center of the political push and pull between the different vampire houses. The families are holding a tenuous peace, and all it will take to shatter it is just the right push.
Thankfully, the romance between Darel and Loraine isn’t the focus of the narrative. The focus is the struggle of power between these ancient vampire families. Darel and his human are a part of the power politics, but not where the story dwells.
The cultural history of the vampires is rich without being overly detailed. You get hints of individual and shared history without long digressions that weigh the story down; it’s exactly the right amount to give the characters some depth and make this secret society feel real. While I think that this background is doled out in perfect amounts, I found myself wondering if this isn’t the first in an intended series, because there are plots we find out about that aren’t resolved, and the ending…well, if it were a movie, I’d instantly expect a sequel to already be in the works, because it’s wide open for a continuation, though it doesn’t necessarily need to.
At times reading Twilight Forever Rising, I was strongly reminded of the White Wolf role-playing game Vampire: The Masquerade. With the focus being on the political machinations of various vampire clans, each of which specializes on a specific set of traits and/or magic, the comparisons were hard to avoid. Having said that, I don’t think the story is any weaker for the similarities. The story telling and world building is rich and thoughtful, and so the story stands on its own regardless of what parallels I wanted to draw to other properties.
Despite the name, and the talents of the principal, don’t confuse this with Stephenie Meyer’s series. This is not teenage angst, and is more mature in content. With the exception of Loraine, who has no voice at all–the story is told from the view points of Darel and the other vampires–these are characters with centuries, if not millennia, of experience. Some of them are still learning the art of their families’ magic, but that doesn’t detract from their general feeling of age…and the ennui that comes with the weight of years. No rainbows, no bunnies, no meadows.
All in all, I call this a good read, and I’ll be recommending it to friends. It’s an entertaining novel.
I received an ARC of this novel at a Tor panel at Dragon*Con. Thanks, Tor!
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