RogerBW's Blog

Dominion, Fred Saberhagen 11 June 2024

1982 fantasy, fifth in Saberhagen's loose Dracula series. A stage magician is asked to perform at a rebuilt castle in Illinois, and everyone's plans are interlocking.

This one definitely moves the series from horror to fantasy: gruesome fantasy, yes, but there's explicit magic here, not to mention time travel to Arthur's Britain. There's also a plethora of characters; one might have cared about some of them, but by the end the ones who aren't supoerpowered are mostly casually killed or mind-wiped, ha ha fooled you.

The plot is an intriguing one, but the characters are minimal (and even when two of them know a thing they don't talk about it with each other). Women are either near-sexless or monsters who use sex to manipulate men. Incest and rape are framed as being more shocking than murder even when they're done for the same end goals (raising magical power). There are lots of viewpoints (remember Joe the cop from Chicago?) but most of them don't get to do much beyond providing a convenient narrative camera-mount. And sometimes it's quite hard not to burst out laughing.

The dim dungeon […] crawled with powers, his own, […], who-knew-whose. All these were edging each other ominously, maneuvering for position, elbowing like basketball players under some evil backboard.

Oh yeah, and Dracula's in it too, mostly as a deus ex machina. There's a lot to be enjoyed in this book, mostly in the high-level plotting, but there's even more padding to get through to find it.

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Previous in series: Thorn | Series: Dracula

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