Some people do know how much I love Vampire the Masquerade. I push it to all my friends, tho some of them claim the game looks too ugly to play (I bet they watch porn for stories too), I tell about it to all those friends who don’t play video games, ever, too. Thus you can imagine that I nearly flipped when I saw that vampiric Ankh cross on the back of this book in Gravesend, (Kent; UK) second-hand store (It’s by a bus stop that’s close to church, if you really need to find it, msg me, I’ll google-map it for you). Few days later I found a third book, but no more since. There’s twelve or thirteen total (and since they’re not re-released yet, if anyone has a copy they want to gift – it’d be loved forever in my hands). They’re clan books, different authors wrote it, but they co-operate, so it’s one smooth story nevertheless. This one’s by Stewart Wieck and it’s called “Clan Novel: Toreador“.
The reason I like VtM so much is the fact that it’s good enough to become cult vampire story, but it doesn’t clash with the myth much either. Garlic doesn’t work, stake paralyses you if it hits your heart, running water is nothing. They bathe. Some of them. But head-shots? Sun? Bloodlust that maddens you? All that’s there. Oh, and I could say that there’s another reason. The Clans. Ever after vampire Father Cain, the First Murderer killed his brother Abel, his children or “children” turned to blood-thirsty demons, vampires. And bit by bit, they split apart into clans. Different views, abilities and general properties of the person. Say, Nosferatu have the talented information seekers mostly. Therefore they’re the clan of spies and information. If you need something – you go to them. If you’re a class hacker (as VtM portrayed Mitnick), they might just knock on your door one night. The characteristics of Nosferatu clan that comes with the blood are horrible thou. Their bodies deform, rot and turn disgusting to behold. Thus they, as evolution demanded, I guess, developed stealth abilities, skills that help them disappear, come unheard and leave unnoticed. The Toreador clan is complete opposite. Often they’re viewed as shallow because they care for the beauty of life, not the knowledge like Tremeres or the information as the Nosferatu. Often they’re chosen for their beauty or talent in arts. They’re seductive and mesmerizing, which is part of what the Clan Blood is all about – to enhance the beauty, the seduction. Never lock eyes with a Toreador.
Vampire Leopold is a vampire-orphan. His Sire (not a master, not a creator, a sire) ditched him after erasing his mind of own existence. Leopold even doubts that his memories of his own past are real. In fact, he’s sure they’re not real. And he wishes to remember who he was and who his Sire is. Maybe it’s a desire to belong, for it’s only his obvious Toreador characteristics that got their Primogen in Atlanta to accept him as part of the clan. Unless a vampire is, in a way, adopted, or accepted into a clan by a clan primogen, one is clanless, which is terribly shameful, for mostly it’s the Thinbloods, who are clanless (thinbloods are too far a generation from Cain and thus no clan characteristics pass into their new undead being, they’re considered weak, thin of blood). Yes, sometimes a different clan member can be adopted into another clan. Their skills or characteristics don’t change, but they’re refereed to as the clan they belong to. Thus, being baffled, Leopold turns to a strange Primogen of Tremere clan. Tremere is the clan of knowledge and sorcery, so it’s no surprise Leopold is afraid to ask her, Hannah, for help. But she seems fond of the Toreador and agrees to help him in return of a sculpture, for Leopold is a great sculptor.
His skill is proven when Toreador primogen, Victoria Ash, asks him to make a statue in scene of Cain killing Abel. It’s needed for the evening she’s throwing for the Atlanta vampires, in expectations to step a bit higher in her career. As you may guess, being a Primogen means pretty much being the head of your clan in the state, thus it’s not very high climb up. But a very hard one. All must unroll in this one evening she planned so carefully and thus, little orphan Leopold might feel less neglected if he has a chance to show off his skills too. But there’s a reason why superstitious Kindred (vampires) say that one should neither be near, look upon Cain statues, nor even say his name… It’s a terrible omen, and a hundred times worse when all the walls of the great hall where you’re at are lined with tens of the scenes, of Abel’s corpse and Cain hovering over him.
It’s a slow-starting book and you can definitely sense the year it was written in within the pages. But as it goes on, it gets better. Those who played the game – will enjoy this. Those who didn’t – don’t worry, everything is nicely explained in this, the information is neither lacking, not annoying, you go on and read this if you like more classy vampire stories. I’ll give this book 4 out of 5. Gave it a point, because it mentioned Dracula. Then took it away, because Leopold thought the man to be a myth. And we know that ain’t so. We even know that he belonged to one of the scariest clans out there… Which is the second book theme, by the way.