Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie have teamed up again for this latest trilogy (Crusade - book 1, Damned - book 2). This trilogy definitely makes for a good read!
I'll apologize now because I can't help thinking about a few favorite vampire males when I read vampire stories: Angel and Spike (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Nick Knight and Vachon (Forever Knight), Michael Glass (Morganville Vampire series by Rachel Caine) and Braden Knight (Hunter Series by Sandra Cox).
Each time I pick up a vampire story, I can't help it, but I inevitably compare other vampires to these guys. Sorry, I can't help it! It's very much like how you compare your current significant other to those who have come before to see if he/she measures up to or surpasses what you've had.
This story was no different. with this story, though, I found the strongest connections to favorite characters from the famed Buffy the Vampire Slayer series, and not just with one character, but with several.
Cast of Crusade Characters
Jenn - human female, leader
Antonio - male vampire with humanity
Skye - human female, white witch
Holgar - male werewolf
Jamie - human male, IRA background
Eriko - human female, given elixir to make her "The Hunter"
Unlike in BtVS series, Vampires are taking over the planet - or have taken over. Humans exist and fight them. The goal of the vampire hunters in this trilogy is to take the planet back while offering strength and hope to those humans currently living under and accepting vampiric rule.
How are the characters similar?
So far, Antonio kept reminding me of Angel. I guess it's the tortured soul/humanity line. There are definitely enough differences to make these characters unique from each other, but I still felt like Angel was there in some respects.
While Holgar was born a werewolf, his beliefs and actions are similar to that of Oz, the character that ends up bit by a werewolf. Not only that but Holgar has deep feelings for Skye, the witch, much the same as Oz did for Willow, the resident witch of BtVS' "Scooby Gang".
This leads to Skye. Yes, Skye and Willow are different characters and have different paths, I still found myself thinking of Willow on more than one occasion with this character. Maybe it's just the fact they are both white witches...but it felt like there was more to it. I can't seem to put my finger on why, though.
Perhaps the easiest two characters to see a true connection between are Jamie and Xander. They have the same attitudes about vampires and werewolves, even though they are "friends" with one of each. Like Jamie, I do remember Xander never really trusting Angel. In fact, as much as he liked Oz, Xander would not have had second thoughts about shooting Oz or staking Angel if it came down to it. However, that's where the similarities end. Jamie has a stronger background and physique than Xander, and is much more adept at fighting. But again, even though Jamie isn't Xander, I couldn't help but be reminded of him.
Honestly, I'd have to say that Eriko and Jenn seem like two different sides of Buffy. Eriko represents the strong, slayer side while Jenn represents the more human, strong leader side. Like Buffy loved Angel in a seemingly doomed relationship, so too does Jenn love Antonio. Is the relationship truly doomed? As of now (end of book 2), the answer is unknown. We'll see how the relationship unfolds. Unlike Eriko, the "Hunter", Jenn seems to be the stronger leader of the two. Eriko represents the Buffy the that would/might have been if she choose to accept the "demon" the trio of "elders" (I forget what they're called as it's been awhile since I've watched the show) traditionally imbued the previous hunters with when they fought the "first evil". Even though Eriko is given the elixir that gives her advantages when compared to humans, she's not the leader type because the Hunter is usually alone.
At least that's how it's been until the vampires came out of the coffin and took over the world. Now, "The Hunter" has to learn how to be part of a group of "hunters".
Despite similarities between the characters of the two different storylines (BtVS and Crusade trilogy), the Crusade trilogy is different enough to make the series enjoyable and the story never stops moving along. The story never appears to stagnate even through the "down times" for the characters.
It's a good story and decent read, but it didn't exactly blow my mind and the fact I kept feeling a continual connection to the Buffy gang irritating. I tried to forget it, I really did, but the connections just kept resurfacing. The fact that it wasn't through one character but many, probably served to strengthen the connection.
For this reason, I found myself unable to give this trilogy (as of October 3, 2011) full marks.
My Rating: 4/5 stars.