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What is Clan Novel: Assamite?
The Vampire the Masquerade Clan Novel Saga is a thirteen-volume masterpiece, presenting the war between the established Camarilla leadership and the growing power of the brutal Sabbat on the East Coast of the United States. Each novel is told from the perspective of one of the thirteen clans, intertwining with the others, and filling in missing pieces artfully as we follow battle after battle, intrigue after intrigue—and the appearance of a strange artifact that falls into the hands of a solitary Toreador sculptor.
Clan Novel Assamite is the seventh novel in the series. For nearly a millennium, Fatima al-Faqadi has stalked and destroyed other creatures of the night. Few are her peers. To exist is to serve. All for the glory of Haqim, Antediluvian founder of the Assamite clan.
But now the Final Nights are at hand, and a herald has risen to judge the children of Haqim. To prove herself worthy, Fatima must assassinate not only Cardinal Monçada of the Sabbat, but also his childe, Lucita, the only creature in hundreds of years to evoke passion from Fatima’s cold heart.
Faith versus loyalty versus love—and Fatima is caught in the middle.
This series is a monumental 13-novel exploration of the forbidden world of the Kindred. What began in Clan Novel: Toreador continues here, and its ending will determine the fate of every human—and inhuman—being in the world.
CLAN NOVEL: ASSAMITE by Gherbod Fleming is book seven of the Clan Novel series. Set in the World of Darkness, more specifically the Vampire: The Masquerade setting, it follows the thirteen clans as they deal with a Sabbat Crusade across the United States’ East Coast while Gehenna (the vampire apocalypse) looms in the background.
I very much enjoyed Gherbod Fleming’s previous entries in the series with Clan Novel: Gangrel and Clan Novel: Ventrue. In a very real way, I feel like he was the author trying hardest to tie together all of the various disparate plot threads while others were more interested in their own private storylines. No shade on the genuinely talented authors who wrote said plotlines like Kathleen Ryan.
The premise for Assamite is that Fatima al-Faqadi is assigned the task of assassinating Sabbat Cardinal Moncada, sire of Lucita. This doesn’t bother Fatima, no matter how formidable Moncada is personally, so much as the fact that she’s aware as soon as she kills him then she will be assigned to kill Lucita. Which is a problem because in the grand tradition of female vampires in literature, Fatima is a lesbian vampire and Lucita’s sometimes lover. Note: Fatima is possibly bi but if there’s ever been a male vampire she’s been attracted to we’ve never seen it (unlike Lucita).
Fatima’s got bigger problems than the fact she’s meant to kill an immensely powerful Lasombra elder, though. Hard as that may be to believe. This is set during the in-universe retool of the Assamites from being a bunch of blood-drinking fanatical Muslim assassins (*sarcasm* can’t imagine why that wouldn’t be considered embarrassing *sarcasm*), to being a much more rounded clan that just so happens to include a bunch of generically religious fanatical assassins. Some worship Allah, others worship Haqim the Antediluvian (i.e. an ancient evil blood god). As anyone with an even cursory knowledge of Islam might guess, this is a no-no and Haqim’s disciple, Ur-Shulgi, is quite clear there’s no room for human faiths in the Assamites.
The religious conflict is both the book’s biggest strength and biggest weakness. The original Assamite write-up was mostly ripped off from the book that inspired Assassins Creed and were “problematic” in that the primarily brown people clan was a bunch of brainwashed cannibal terrorists. The other two non-European clans introduced weren’t great either. Later edition’s transformation of the Assamites to Banu Haqim did a pretty good job of redeeming their concept but this book was written when the developers were still trying to figure their way out of the hole they’d dug. That doesn’t mean the conflict between faith and secular loyalty isn’t interesting and kept me invested throughout the book. No, it did. It is a very well-written book with a lot of interesting concepts.
The problem is, well, Fatima is a frigging nut. Likable as Fatima may be, reverent to her faith, and torn between love of God versus love of Lucita versus love of clan, well, she is part of an evil murder cult. An evil murder cult she was entirely fine with until it made her stop paying lip service to her religion. It’s hard to take her struggle between her religion and Haqim seriously when the latter is something she’s clearly not seen a problem with serving beforehand. Switch around the names and make it a conflict between a man unable to choose between Jesus, his lover, or Dracula and you’d have someone that most texts would rightly call out as missing the point of all three.
I’m not exactly a fan of Lucita’s portrayal either. The rebellious princess of the Lasombra acts like a spoiled brat throughout the novel. She frequently calls Fatima foul words, walks right into a trap of her sire, and abuses the brainwashed slaves of Moncada. There’s even a point when she kills a male prostitute and displays it in Moncada’s villa to annoy him. It’s hard to see what Fatima sees in Lucita or vice versa.
In conclusion, Clan Novel: Assamite is a pretty enjoyable book. It has action, drama, religious struggle, and internal conflict. However, Fatima is a character that it is hard to take the internal struggle between as she’s apparently unable to note the difference between serving God versus serving a deranged ancient Enochian vampire. Now in real life, there’s plenty of religious people who can’t tell the difference between their religion’s professed ideals and the exact opposite of their teachings but it doesn’t make a great protagonist.