Before there were sparkling, angst driven, noble vampire teen idols these creatures of the night were deadly predators and thankfully, Kent has returned them to their proper place in this ambitious series. Set in 1825, Russian agent Aleksei Danilov who had defeated a group of vampires thirteen years earlier has risen to the rank of colonel in the Imperial Life Guards. Aleksei is concerned about his wife, an illegitimate young daughter and his teenaged son Dmitry who is poised to follow him into the military. Aleksei infiltrated a group of revolutionaries bent on overthrowing Tsar Alexandra although that is the least of the czar’s problems as a broken blood pledge made a century earlier is about to come due and only blood and souls will satisfy.
Heavily steeped in Russian history, this slow moving tale features satisfyingly strong vampire protagonists to make up for the halting action. Unlike Twelve, the first of the series, this is told from different character perspectives, which adds more dimension to the story. Aleksei’s character gains from further development although he retains most of his flaws. While the book has something of a “middle-book” feel, it is a good addition to an old style vampire series.