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What is Clan Lasombra Trilogy: Shards?

Alone in the Night

For a thousand years, the vampire Lucita has lived under the shadow of her tyrannical sire Monçada. Now, the monster who defined her existence is gone, destroyed in no small part thanks to her efforts. All she wishes, is to at last find a place for herself in these Final Nights. But to the rest of the Clan Lasombra, she is a rogue and a killer, a rebel who has assassinated one of their greatest elders.

The hunt is on.

Review

“These hands have spilled more blood than I can imagine in one place. These eyes have looked on countless sins. These teeth have drained the gift of life again and again. I told myself for a thousand years that I was all the things my sire wasn’t. But I was just like him: I have preyed on others for my own ends. God won’t take the curse away, but I must atone as I can. It’s baptism, if you want to call that. I’m going to let fire strip off what water can’t.” – Lucita de Aragorn, Shards

Female antiheroes are still fairly rare in fantasy novel. This is certainly not something that is absolute, don’t get me wrong. One of my favorite characters growing up was Kitiara Uth Matar who was almost as much a protagonist in the Dragonlance Legends books books as Raistlin Majere. My wife and I met on the Anita Blake forums with the titular character having been designed to be a hard boiled detective who was willing to kill anyone she had to in order to keep the fragile peace of Saint Louis. Then there’s Lucita de Aragon, a character that only had a few appearances in White Wolf’s World of Darkness novels yet remains one of the singularly most memorable characters they ever created.

Lucita is an eight hundred year old vampire, one of the oldest most active undead around, who was a literal princess when alive. However, she was a rebellious young woman who her father assigned to the church to discipline. Unfortunately, like today, the institution was not always full of good individuals and she fell prey to a predator. This being the World of Darkness, said predator was a vampire named Father Luis Moncada who turned her into one of the undead. From there, Lucita spent centuries opposing her sire while sustaining her luxurious lifestyle as a highly paid assassin of her own kind. That is, until, Clan Novel: Lasombra when she finally killed Moncada with the help of her lover, Fatima al-Faqadi.

Unfortunately, victory has robbed Lucita of one of the things that she used to define herself as an undead survivor. Moncada was one of the Sabbat, a monstrous religious fanatic, and as close to absolute evil as you could get. By opposing him, Lucita could always keep away the Beast by saying, “I’m not as bad as that guy.” With Moncada dead, Lucita is left with the uncomfortable realization she’s now only able to define herself by her own sins and they’re horrifying. She’s not a friendly neighborhood vampire or a hero nor is she likely to become one. However, she needs to figure out something to define herself as when there’s no one left to defend herself against.

Lucita is a fantastic character and this book allows a lot more insight into her than the original Clan Novel starring her (albeit not quite as much as the Dark Ages Clan Novel by David Niall Wilson). A lot of insight is had in the fact that she wants to atone and be a better person but, really, just isn’t sorry or regretful for any of the evil deeds she’s done. Not really. It’s a nice change of pace of vampire fiction and the fact our heroine is struggling with the fact, “Yeah, I’m genuinely evil and that sucks” is an interesting character journey.

Surprisingly, for a book written by a dude in the early 2000s, Lucita’s bisexuality isn’t written for titillation. Her connection with Fatima is something that is depicted as motivated by deep loneliness and a genuine emotional connection between two deadly killers. Unfortunately, Fatima really does believe God has her back and has never lost her sense of purpose. Fatima is deeply-deluded about undead being something more than monsters but at least that is an ethos. If forced to choose between her clan and Lucita, she might choose Lucita but she’s never going to choose Lucita over God. Lucita just flat out does not share Fatima’s faith even though said faith among undead doesn’t preclude a relationship between two women. Sadly, Lucita’s other lost love, Anatole, isn’t there to mediate.

In conclusion, the Clan Lasombra Trilogy is one of the best series produced for the Old World of Darkness fiction line and this is a great introduction to it. It’s also a good book to purchase for Pride month. You’d probably have to read Clan Novel: Lasombra to get as much out of it as you should, though. It’s enough for me to wish they’d make a new set of books starring Lucita, though. Bruce Baugh’s version of Lucita is far more erudite, thoughtful, and tragic than Richard Dansky even if she’s far less sympathetic than David Niall Wilson’s.

Available here

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