Fourth in the Le Comte de Saint-Germain horror historicals, following Hotel Transylvania, The Palace and, most recently, 1979's Blood Games. This time out, Yarbro offers a near-origin story of Saint-Germain (well, he's only 800 years old when the story starts, still a bloodmad youth as vampires go, and looks about 45) that goes deeper and at greater length into his past than any earlier installment. The novel takes place in two time spans: during Saint-Germain's Egyptian captivity in Pharaonic times, when--his bloodthirst dimming--he was kept in the House of Life for centuries, as an imprisoned demon who could not die through reign after reign of priests and pharaohs; and then as a slave in the House of Life; then as a fantastically knowledgeable doctor, serving the pharaohs and fighting plague and famine; and then as a priest, embattled in court politics. Alternate chapters follow the story of Madelaine de Montalia, Saint-Germaine's great love, who in 1825 is now over a hundred years old (but looks 20) and is in Egypt working as an archaeologist at a dig at Thebes. Champollion has recently broken the alphabet on the Rosetta stone, and all Europe rages with a lust for antiquities. Madelaine and Saint-Germain are parted (he's in Crete and sends for love letters fried with Egyptian lore), so her sojourn with a team of French antiquarians in Thebes allows her to dig into the very Temple of Imhotep where Saint-Germain served 2700 years ago. Meanwhile, her hormones race for a young German, Herr Doktor Egidius Maximillian Falke, who is studying Egyptian diseases. The honor-bound doctor, something of a prig, must be seduced step by step. The big purple comes when Madelaine, gunshot and shriveling under burning desert sun, can save herself only by a drink from her lover's neck during sexual climax. . .which--unthinkably!--will make the good doctor one of the malignant undead. . . The richest and most unified novel in the series, and Yarbro's best.