Sunday, October 28, 2012
Ancient Blood: A Novel of the Hegemony Brian Patrick McKinley
TITLE OF BOOK:
Ancient Blood: A Novel of the Hegemony
AUTHOR: Brian Patrick McKinley
SERIES NAME: The Order Saga
Avery Doyle loves vampires; he’s read every novel, seen all the movies, and researched the folklore. When his first one-night-stand, Caroline, turns out to be a true vampire on the run, he jumps at the chance to leave his ordinary life and join her as a “child of the night.” The honeymoon ends, however, when Caroline’s brutal Creator Sebastian enslaves them on his island estate and Avery must confront the dehumanizing reality behind his dreams.
In order to survive, Caroline and Avery take their place as servants in Sebastian’s household during a gathering of the most powerful vampires on Earth, the Hegemony, and soon find themselves involved in the myriad intrigues and deceptions that form the night-to-night existence of The Order.
A society of wealth, power, and inhuman decadence whose existence is protected by human complicity and disbelief, The Order is the immortal aristocracy hidden behind the giant corporations and political leaders of the world. Sebastian, however, has a plan that will change The Order forever and shatter human civilization.
To avoid this terrible fate, Avery and Caroline will not only have to defy the most powerful creatures on Earth, but also confront the darkest aspects of themselves. For in the world of the Hegemony, even victory may cost them their souls . . .
A fast-paced thriller that both re-imagines and pays tribute to the traditional vampire, Ancient Blood is a story of love, ambition, sacrifice, and betrayal that is frighteningly human.
Brian is a lifelong vampire fan from
written four screenplays, a stage play which won a state-wide contest and was
produced by a NJ community theater, and numerous short stories, three of which
will be appearing in Mystic Press’ upcoming anthologies Misery Loves Company and In
the Darkness … When Light Fades. New Jersey
Avery and Caroline, two modern Vampyrs (a specific race of vampire), are on the run from Sebastian, Caroline’s former lover and the Hegemon (ruler) of all the Vampyrs in
North America. After they stash documents that prove Sebastian’s unequalled
influence, both local police and the military assist in their capture on the NJ
Turnpike. Though Avery does his utmost to defend the woman he loves, he and
Caroline are easily captured by Ash, commander of Sebastian’s forces.
They wake in the “wine cellar” of Sebastian’s mansion, which houses a collection of caged humans sorted according to their blood types. Avery, a huge fan of vampire movies and novels, is revolted by this evidence of what being a Vampyr really means. He makes plans for their immediate escape but Caroline, familiar with the private island on which they’re trapped, explains the impossibility of every one. Sebastian enters—a bestial giant fresh from a hunt in his huge maze—and nearly kills Avery out of jealousy, but Caroline tells him about the information that will be released over the Internet if she doesn’t check in every night with her contact. As his chef picks out humans suitable for the blood dishes of the upcoming feast, Sebastian takes out a young girl for Caroline and Avery to feed upon before leaving them. Ashamed of his hunger for the girl, Avery is spared this initiation when Caroline shares her blood with him, lovingly feeding on him in return.
Avery takes us back to the night he first met Caroline; she came into the occult bookstore he worked at looking for research materials on, ironically, vampires. After a few months together, he convinced her to make him a Vampyr to benefit her research into the condition. He takes us through what it’s like to be transformed, cell by cell, from a human being into an immortal species that lives off blood.
Back in the present, Caroline resumes her previous position as Sebastian’s assistant while Avery is forced into the role of a footman. Not having been “Initiated” into The Order, both are considered property and forbidden to communicate with any vampire but Sebastian. During the banquet to welcome the foreign Hegemons, however, Sebastian’s desire to humiliate Avery gets the better of him and he revokes Avery’s “protection” so that he can be treated like any human servant. As Caroline explains later, this is a loophole they can exploit, but it means playing “The Game” of Order politics.
While enduring the petty torments and threats heaped upon him, Avery uses his role as a house servant to smuggle Caroline into meetings with the other Hegemons. Finally, they achieve an audience with the head of the council: Iago de’ Medici. Iago is willing to help the pair, but is limited by his shrinking influence and Sebastian’s just-announced bid to take his position. To save themselves, they must save Iago by thwarting Sebastian’s election. During their meeting, some of Sebastian’s history is revealed and Avery realizes the monster they fight was once a noble, passionate, and idealistic man not unlike himself. Sebastian’s fate is an object lesson in the psychological toll The Game takes on good people.
With Caroline navigating the treacherous political waters, they begin to make headway and throw doubt about Sebastian’s certain victory into a few of his supporters. Then Valmont—Avery’s most enthusiastic tormentor—gets Sebastian’s permission to perform a lewd public exhibition with Caroline while Avery is forced to watch. Later, Avery’s humiliated rage turns against Caroline and he tries to kill her. Only her quick thinking and Ash’s gift of a stun gun save her.
Afterward, Avery’s memories are probed and found to have been falsified. The culprit appears to be Iago, who snuck into Avery’s room, programmed him to kill Caroline, and then erased all evidence of his presence. The council is shocked, Iago most of all, and Sebastian’s “election” becomes a trial for Iago’s life. Near sunrise, Avery is released from custody by Ash, who takes pity on him. Their plans for Avery’s escape are interrupted by Caroline, who convinces Avery of her love for him and insists that Iago is being framed.
To everyone’s surprise, Avery puts together some of Sebastian’s inconsistent behavior with things they have been told and his own empathy for Sebastian’s frustration with the council; he explains that Sebastian may have fooled everyone into thinking he wants Iago’s position when what he really wants is to kill the council and end The Game. Further proof emerges when Ash confesses that Sebastian is keeping the Admiral of the Northern Pacific submarine fleet in the security bunker. Though Ash was told that this is only part of a political bluff, Caroline outlines a scenario by which those few subs (and the nuclear warheads they carry) could start a chain reaction that would result in World War Three, millions of human deaths, and a complete shattering of The Order.
With everyone else asleep, their only hope lies in convincing Jade Tiger—representative of an Asian race of vampires that has no weakness to sunlight—to seize control of Sebastian’s household during the day. Since Caroline is too old a Vampyr to remain awake, Avery must carry out the negotiations. This proves more difficult than expected when Jade Tiger demands to feed on his sexual passion in return for her help; thinking quickly, Avery makes a compromise which preserves his integrity while satisfying the Hegemon’s requirements. As he leaves, however, he catches sight of Valmont—who should be deep in sleep—going into her suite. Unable to resist his curiosity, Avery watches while Valmont exhausts Jade Tiger in sexual debauchery before somehow putting her to sleep. While trying to sneak out, Avery is caught and pleads with Valmont to let Jade Tiger wake up and help stop Sebastian. Valmont, however, has no interest in stopping Sebastian’s plan to ruin the world and arranges for Avery to be turned over to Sebastian’s men.
Avery wakes that night in a cell of the security bunker along with Ash and Caroline. A closed-circuit TV shows them Iago’s “trial” and they feel helpless to do anything but watch Sebastian’s scheme play out. On sudden inspiration, Avery performs a spell to assist Jade Tiger in waking. Though he’s never performed magic before, he’s very familiar with the principles and believes that Jade Tiger’s feeding created a bond between them. A short time later, Jade Tiger and her people launch an assault on Sebastian and his men; though her assault fails, leaving Sebastian with all the Hegemons in custody, Jade Tiger’s majordomo arrives at the cell to set Avery, Ash, and Caroline free.
Splitting up, Ash heads down to where the Admiral is being kept to stop any possible launch command while Avery and Caroline head for the house to stop Sebastian from killing the entire council. Joined by a few other stragglers, they lead a second assault on the council chamber and free the Hegemons. Sebastian flees into his hunting maze during the fight; Avery pursues him to settle some scores. Their fight is vicious and animalistic, bringing Avery to the edge of the abyss into which Sebastian has plunged. In an act of mercy and personal realization, Avery leaves the wounded Sebastian alive to make his final stand against the other Vampyrs who have joined in the hunt. Valmont, however, puts himself in Avery’s way back; a secret hybrid of species, Valmont is too powerful for Avery to fight, but needs to feed on Avery’s killing lust. Avery’s natural humor saves him, allowing him to mock Valmont rather than hate him and deny him the confrontation he needs. Valmont leaves, weakened and humiliated, vowing revenge upon Avery and everyone he cares about.
With Sebastian dead, the exonerated Iago announces his intention to reform the corrupt political system of The Order, starting with the appointment of Caroline as Hegemon of North America. Avery, of course, is elated until he takes stock of the situation and realizes how many new threats surround them and how easy it will be for The Game to corrupt them as it did Sebastian. Still, he refuses to leave Caroline alone among the jackals and, made confident by his personal victories, believes they can achieve her dream of a more benevolent Order together.
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Today's world is difficult for everyone, especially teenagers. They face the stresses of school, deciding whom to date, and the biggie of sex, just to name a few. Imagine all of those things ten times worse, and you might get an idea of what it's like being a living, breathing teenage vampire. At last, the world can read about the life of a girl with good teeth, her problems with strong sunlight that gave her spots, and the sunblock that made her hair go yucky and produced more spots. Yes, sunlight was dangerous, as she could be the first teenager in history to die from terminal acne! In her everyday life, older vampires expected her to walk about at night in the traditional female uniform, a see-through, 18th-century nightdress, without undies! Well, this female vampire knew why the cold winds blowing along the corridors were called, "male winds," so she wore her see-through nightdress over jeans and a very thick jumper. To be sure that people would still know she was a vampire, the jumper had a very large, pink bat on it. And as to guys, well, it was normal for a girl to dream about guys; she just wished the dreams could have involved chocolates and holding hands, not leaping out at someone, ripping off his shirt, and demanding to know what blood type he was (at least not on the first date).