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As with previous novels, I'll be reviewing them with a focus on:tone, or the general feel of the novel,characterization,plot andhow the novel impacts the series overall.ToneI think the tone for this novel should be pretty self-evident to those familiar with the Brujah clan: rebels and philosophers, the clan of some of the fiercest warriors, basest thugs and most complex thinkers of the undead. It's going to be a thoughtful novel about violence. Fleming does not disappoint. His dedication at the opening of the book reads, ever so tongue in cheek:For my parents.(You can read this one; it's a sweet, non-violent love story.I promise.)Yeah, fat chance. It's the sort of subtly sarcastic comment, leavened with a hint of some warmth that we're just not going to be able to understand, really, that we might expect from the main character of Theo Bell, and I think it describes the tone of the novel very accurately. Ultimately, this is not a novel about Brujah beating up on other people, despite the fact that this occurs during a great deal of it. Really, this is a novel about the struggle between loyalty and rebellion, business and personal, desire and duty. Much as Gangrel was a tale of doomed love, and Setite was the story of an exceptionally alluring Big Bad Wolf for grown-ups, and Lasombra was about the agony of any painful but unforgettable relationship, Brujah is an examination of a life lesson we all learn sometime or another, and never easily: we must walk the line between what we want to do and what we must do, and whether we succeed in this or fail us ultimately our own doing. Despite my uglier comments regarding Toreador and Tzimisce early in the series, I have to say that this novel maintained what I've come to expect: a mature examination of mature subjects. This book lives up to a standard others have raised before it, that these are not just stories about dead people drinking blood, these are stories which are meant to make us think about our own lives and experiences. Brujah even manages to walk that line itself, in that Fleming manages to weave his way cleanly and enjoyably down the line between maintaining the rough-and-tumble tempo and vocabulary we'd expect from the average Brujah while never losing site of the mature, thoughtful lessons to be learned from the story and characters. While a character might press a gun barrel to another's nose and cuss a blue streak, as we said back home, it doesn't become an exploitation novel about violence and curse words. This book's theme could be described as "adult" in several senses, none of them negative. CharacterizationThis novel has a huge cast, so I'm not even going to try tackling all of them. Instead I'm going to talk about two characters in the main, and briefly hit on others. This is, ultimately, the story of Theo Bell, archon of Clan Brujah and a major mover and shaker in the Camarilla's attempts to defend Baltimore and, later, take New York from the Sabbat. The novel begins with Bell, ends with Bell, and chiefly stars Bell in the middle. Theo was a former slave who, once Embraced, slew his master and fled north where he has, over time, built a name for himself among the Brujah. Theo is also the chief representation we have of the novel's overall theme: as archon of Clan Brujah, he is looked upon as a leader and decision-maker for the Camarilla. He is expected to play the politics game and work to enforce the Traditions however he must; but deep down, he's very much that slave who rebelled against a master, and he must constantly check himself as he walks the line between rebellion, something to which it seems many Brujah, if not most, are drawn, and the mantle of leadership which has been placed upon him.I really can't say enough good things about the character of Theo. We get to see him experience almost a full range of emotions in the time this novel covers, from confidence to regret to a desire to throw it all away and just go bust some heads to a cool and confident use of manipulation to play the game he claims to hate. Through it all, though -- and this is what's been so important to the best characters of this series -- we never doubt that he's still very, very human. He has as many doubts as he has points of confidence, and we can feel comfortable with Bell as a whole person, let ourselves believe in his three-dimensionality, while being entertained by his wit and intelligence and left pleasantly uncomfortable with the difficult decisions he has to make. Much as Hesha was painfully enticing and Ramona was achingly human as she lost her humanity, Theo Bell, regardless of his circumstances, remains interestly presented. It's a joy, if also a bit of a mixed blessing, to spend a little time inside his head.The other truly major character of the novel is Lydia, a Brujah on whom Theo relies heavily during his Baltimore operations and who is sort of a sidekick to the archon. She struggles even more with the fact that, despite her Archon leanings and her general desire just to tell the world where it can stick its politics, she's found herself in a position of responsiblity and leadership, putting her own life on the line nightly to assist the endeavors of those who are most assuredly The Establishment. While she has some star moments (including an unbelievably fun scene in a Baltimore pub, where she teaches a Brujah poseur and her posse a few lessons about when not to shoot their mouths off), though, Lydia is most exemplary as a tool to compare and contrast her own circumstances with those of Theo. Theo recognizes the younger vampire as being in much the same place, mentally, as himself, and much of their relationship revolves around the tensions which arise from his responsibility to her as his underling and her role model, and her own internal struggle with seeming to want to be more like Theo while still being a rebel at heart.The interactions between them are sometimes subtle, but the themeliness of their scenes both together and apart can't be ignored. This is probably Fleming's best use to date of a characters and theme meant to support and spotlight one another in concert. Other characters include some amusing concepts, and of course the return of Colchester, a highly enjoyably base Nosferatu who first appeared in Ventrue, another of Fleming's contributions to the series. Also, we see again Jan Pieterzoon, star of Ventrue. Ultimately, Fleming is blessed with a wonderful opportunity, and he capitalizes on it: Baltimore is the setting he got to first describe in the series, and contains a cast of characters he first got to write. It would have been a tremendous disappointment if a coincidence of this many of his own settings and characters had somehow failed, and fortunately it doesn't. Ultimately, we get to see a wide variety of faces Fleming and others have shown us before, and it works exceedingly well.The final point regarding characterization I'll make is the delightful variety of characters we see. Fleming gives us tastes of everyone from Justicars to the lowest street rabble, and everything between, all with an enjoyable treatment.I'm gushing, I know. It's a damn good book. And?PlotI'm not going to talk much about plot, because pivotal events occur in this novel and I don't want to give them away. I'm really trying to avoid spoilers, despite having included one in the text above, I realize.So, I'll simply say that this novel suffers from none of the gaping plot holes or bizarre, seemingly random occurences of some of this series' weaker efforts. However, it's not a cut-and-dried cause-and-effect story, either. It involves some very complicated plotting and some extremely well-written action. I won't claim that the action writing in this novel lives up to the amazing action in Lasombra, but it's much better than that of Tzimisce, which just left me annoyed. It's highly enjoyable and understandable, and the text itself moves at a pace which keeps the reader engaged while providing enough description to give us a full-flavor image of what's going on.Really, though, the most important point of any plot is its cohesiveness, and this is a cohesive story. At no point did I just shake my head and wonder what was going on, but at no point did it seem obvious where the book would end and why. I was thoroughly engaged.ImpactSo how does this novel impact the series as a whole? In some ways it's absolutely vital, and in other ways it isn't. The main thrust of the storyline is the on-going war between the Camarilla and the Sabbat, particularly in how the Camarilla fights to defend Baltimore while the Sabbat offensive from the south starts to break down. The outcome of the Camarilla's maneuvering and efforts has a jarring effect on that plot as a whole, so in that regard, the book is vital to the series.On the other hand, there's very little to do with the Eye of Hazimel in this novel -- it makes an appearance, one which is much expanded upon in Nosferatu, book thirteen. But ultimately, this is a story of how one city tries to survive attack, and in turn attacks another. Ultimately, politics reign supreme here. But boy, does that not at all mean that this novel lacks impact. By the time you finish Brujah, the storyline which was started in Toreador will have been turned, arguably for the second time, on its ear. In all seriousness, if you only read two novels in the series, this should be one of them.
Setite Clan Novel Download Pdfl