Due to the fact I work in retail and the joy of Black Friday, I'm still plugging though Sky Coyote.
However, I did manage to get a Nook Color during my lunch break on Thursday. While I am not updating this blog via the Nook, (All I've done with it so far is charge it and register it, which told me touch screen keyboards and I are going to have issues) it will give me some new avenues in which to find content for this blog. (Because there are several books out there not available other than in e-content that I want to read.)
So, since I'm not reading something new, I figured I'd discuss Jasper Kent's Danilov Quintet, mainly because I was talking about it with a friend of mine at work who happens to love Russian novels. Book 4 is due out early next year, so...
The first book, Twelve, starts as Napoleon invades Russia in 1812. Special military agents (read: spies) Aleksi, Vadim, Maks, and Dmitri end up meeting with 13 mercenaries out of Romania. The leader of the band, Zmyeevich, introduces 12 Oprichinki (The name for an earlier Black ops group in Russian history) who all bear the names of the 12 apostles of the New Testament. Only in Russian, since the book is set mostly in and around Moscow. Anyway, as Aleksei, the main character, begins following around these new Oprichniki around trying to destroy Napoleon's army's morale, he ends up discovering their true secret... they are the voordalak he heard tales of as a child. And then the book gets interesting. I thought Napoleon retreated before hitting Moscow, but I was wrong. Much is made of the game of cat and mouse between Aleksei and the vampires during the occupation, as Aleksi comes to the opinion that nationalism is no excuse for letting such vile creatures exist. And the vampires seem to feel that killing their kind is grounds for execution.
Add into this the very odd relationship between Aleksei and Domnikiia (a Moscow lady of negotiable virtue who keeps Aleksi entertained with his wife Marfa raises their son in Petersburg.) and you have a recipe for one hell of a read.
Book 2, Thirteen Years Later, picks up with Aleksei doing spy work among certain groups concerned about which brother will become Tsar when Aleksandr I dies. (Which in turn sets off the Decemberist Uprising, which is where the book climaxes.) Marfa is still raising their son in Petersburg, although he's military now, and sympathizes with the revolutionaries. Once again, we get involved in the cat an mouse games, as Aleksi goes chasing off after St. Germaine along with the soon to be Tsar Constantine. What he finds involes what the real goal of the Wallachian voordalak really is, and then getting involved in the Decemberist Uprising trying to save his son Dmitry. some of the historical bits get a bit long, but there's some great humor at the assumptions Aleksei keeps making about the nationalities of the English speakers. (Hint: they're Scotsmen, not English.)
Which brings up to Book 3, The Third Section. The title references Tsar Nikolas's secret police, who monitor communications and keep an eye out for revolutionaries. Aleksei is barely in this one, due to the ending of the last one. We instead follow around his son Dmitry in Crimean War and his daughter by Domnikiia, Tamara, who works in Moscow with the Third Section. As the book progresses, the half-siblings eventually get tied together, unaware of their shared father or his exploits in voordalak hunting. All of which leads to a rather prolonged climax as both siblings, the main villain, and Aleksei all meet up and everything gets laid bare.
If you have time to spare, they're well worth reading. I will admit to having Wikipedia open while reading them, since I honestly didn't know every much about the periods in which they are set.