Another of Yarbro's tales of the vampire Count Saint-Germain (Darker Jewels, p. 104, etc.). This time, in A.D. 938, the Count is shipwrecked on the coast of northern Saxony. The fortress town of Leosan, held in the name of King Otto against marauding Danes, is now ruled by the Gerefa Lady Ranagonda; her brother Giselberht, nominally in charge, has retired to a nearby monastery. When the Count, washed up on the beach and near death, accidentally tastes Ranagonda's blood, he becomes bound to her body and soul. Ranagonda, meanwhile, has to reconcile the conflicting demands made upon her by the superstitious folk and soldiers of Leosan, the representative of King Otto, and the priests of the White Christ, while she nurses the Count back to health. A civilized and educated man among folk who are for the most part neither, the Count must move very cautiously to avoid arousing the enmity of Ranagonda's people. Among other complications: the Gerefa's unruly sister-in-law, Pentacoste, the latter's harking back to the rule of the old gods, and Pentacoste's would-be-lover, prince Berengar; the King's man, Margerifa Oelrih, waylaid and wounded by bandits; the vengeful outcasts who lurk in the nearby forests; near starvation and outbreaks of ergot-inspired madness. Slower and with less narrative momentum than Darker Jewels, but still inviting: Yarbro stints nothing on historical verisimilitude.