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Clan Novel: Toreador
Stewart Wieck
White Wolf, 262 pages

Art: John van Fleet
Clan Novel: Toreador
Stewart Wieck
Stewart Wieck is the co-founder and co-owner of White Wolf. He began in 1986 by producing White Wolf Magazine with his brother and then went on to co-design the World of Darkness with major contributions to Vampire: The Masquerade (and minor ones to Werewolf: The Apocalypse), before leading the design of Mage: The Ascension in 1993. As Stewart von Allmen, he is the author of two books: Conspicuous Consumption (HarperPrism, 1995) and Saint Vitus Dances Eternity (Borealis, 1996). Lately, he has piloted White Wolf's fiction efforts and, during this time, signed authors such as Nancy Collins, Harlan Ellison, Neil Gaiman, and Michael Moorcock. He has also edited six volumes of World of Darkness fiction.

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A review by Jonathan Fesmire

World of Darkness fans, get ready for a treat. Clan Novel: Toreador starts a 13-novel vampire epic.  If this book is typical of the series, you can expect vivid writing and a gripping plot throughout.

Even in such an improbable setting as a secret vampire society, the characters come across as real people.  Their problems and connivances make sense, perhaps echoing similar politics in our own society.  That aspect of White Wolf's World of Darkness brings great tension to their vampire stories, and Clan Novel: Toreador is no exception.

This novel focuses on Leopold and Victoria, two vampires of the Kindred clan, Toreador. Leopold is a gifted sculptor, but incapable of depicting other vampires in clay.  This problem leads him to wonder if something in his past created this block, which leads him to wonder about the identity of his sire, the one who made him Kindred. Victoria Ash may very well be Leopold's sire; we don't learn, though, in this novel.  Most of the story takes place in Atlanta, Georgia, where Victoria has planned a scheme to rise in the ranks of Kindred society.  She leads the Toreador clan as its primogen, but she wants to rule the city, and all its clans.  The elimination of her enemies is just part of her scheme.

We see a mingling of vampires amid heavenly and hellish sculptures, most of them depicting Cain murdering Able.  We meet the clever Setite Vegel, Julias and Benison, a tough Brujah and an insane Malkavian, leaders of their respective clans and bitter enemies, who Victoria has set against each other.  Then there's Rolf, the deformed Nosferatu, a sewer-dwelling vampire.  Is he out to help, or to betray, Vegel?  I'm afraid that question goes unanswered, but I trust it will become clear as the series progresses.

The party turns out differently than anyone expects, especially Victoria, and the novel's ending opens even more questions.  I was drawn into Clan Novel: Toreador early on, but at this point I became hooked.

Each of the novels in this series is intended to stand on its own, but in fact it seems that each will present only a part of the puzzle.  This first novel opens several plot lines and brings up many questions, but the lines stay open and the questions remain unanswered.

Actually, according to the advertisement for the rest of the series, and based on sample chapters in the back of the book, the story will cover the same time frame from different clan and character perspectives, filling in gaps as it goes.  For example, one character misses an important engagement in the first novel.  In one sample chapter, we find out why.

The story is filled with twists and surprises, which I'm sure will continue in the following novels.  If you enjoy vampire stories and are ready for a new series, pick up Clan Novel: Toreador.  For an epic, it's an excellent beginning.

Copyright © 1999 by Jonathan Fesmire

Jonathan Fesmire has travelled to France, Germany, Estonia, Finland, and Ireland. He enjoys speaking French and learning bits of other foreign languages, but most of all, he loves writing, and has sold fiction to Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Magazine, SpaceWays Weekly, Jackhammer, and others.

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