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The Priest of Blood: Book One of The Vampyricon    by Douglas Clegg order for
Priest of Blood
by Douglas Clegg
Order:  USA  Can
Ace, 2005 (2005)
* * *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Aleric Atheffelde has lived a poverty-ridden life as the second son of the village whore. He understands that his mother offers her body to put food on the table, yet he still hates the choices she makes. Aleric spends as much time away from home as possible, choosing to visit the Wise Women who live in the Great Forest beyond the village. Aleric's grandfather often accompanies the boy as they seek the council of Mere Morwenna. It's during one of these visits that the deformed grandchild of the old wise woman foresees Aleric's future, telling him he will become a powerful priest of darkness. But Aleric pays little heed to this prophesy; he has other more pressing worries, like finding enough to eat for his brothers and sisters.

After his grandfather teaches Aleric to train birds, his ability to communicate with hawks and ravens lands him a position as falconer in the local Baron's household. It's not long before he and one of the lord's daughters fall in love. When their forbidden affair is discovered, Aleric is banished to the Holy Lands to fight the Saracen infidels. During one bloody battle, he is reunited with his elder brother, Frey. But their reunion is short-lived. Angry over Frey's death and sickened by the continuing slaughter carried out in the name of God, Aleric flees into the desert. Soon he finds himself near an ancient necropolis said to be inhabited by plague-ridden wraiths. It is here that he encounters a beautiful woman named Pythia who leads him into death and then helps him rise again to discover his fate.

Douglas Clegg is already a master of horror and now turns his considerable talents to fantasy. The Priest of Blood is the first installment of what is sure to be a fascinating and fresh new series, a superb marriage of medieval history and myth. Even more refreshing is Clegg's vision of his Vampire Tribe and the new direction it takes once the peasant boy from a far away land is named as 'the One' to lead them to confront his and their destiny.

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