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4.2 out of 5 stars
Dhampir (Noble Dead)
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Not so long ago, there was a pervasive sense, even among horror fans, that the vampire genre was dead, that it had been bled dry of all creativity and effectiveness. We now know better, of course. One of the more recent scintillating entries in the vampire genre is Dhampir by Barb & J.C. Hendee. If you're a vampire fan, you will almost certainly enjoy this formidable work of dark fantasy literature. While I wouldn't go so far as to equate it with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, it is exciting both viscerally and intellectually.
Magiere has built quite a reputation as a vampire hunter; she doesn't come cheap, but she always gets her vampire. Of course, her "vampire" is always her trusty half-elven partner Leesil playing the role of the undead fiend. It's a living, but Magiere has grown tired of the game, tired of basically robbing villages of their wealth; it's not as if the superstitious folks across the land actually need protecting since vampires don't exist in the first place. She has just purchased a tavern in the coastal city of Miiska, and she can't wait to get there and start a new life. Then she is attacked one night by a man with supernatural strength and abilities; lucky to survive the fierce fight, she is left troubled by the emotional and physical changes she experienced in the heat of battle. Although she does not realize it at first, a trio of vampires awaits her in Miiska and plots to destroy her, thinking this famous "hunter" is coming to destroy them. She doesn't even know what she is yet, though - not only is she truly a vampire hunter, she is a dhampir. While she is a mortal being, the vampire half of her blood gives her the ability and specialized skills to kill the Noble Undead. Leesin has a secret heritage of his own which makes him an ideal partner for the true hunter, and Leesin's dog Chap also possesses the special capacity to take on the undead. Magiere's undead foes are quite shocked to learn that she can actually harm them with her blade, and their growing realization of her true power and innate calling only furthers the determination of the head vampire Rashed to kill this hunter in order to protect his vampire family.
It's an odd set of vampires: Rashed finds comfort in a mortal life, setting himself up as a businessman and insisting that his kind feed upon but not kill its victims. The female Teesha also finds comfort in the trappings of normal life and is actually quite likable in several ways. Then there is Ratboy, the Pig Pen of the vampire world whose feral tendencies sometimes threaten to reveal the vampire presence to the local populace. The vampires also have an ally in the form of Teesha's husband (who just so happens to be a nearly-headless ghost). Magiere doesn't want to fight vampires, but the fact that she keeps getting attacked by them makes it unavoidable. Her mind is in constant turmoil, trying to cope with the increasingly troubling revelations about her true nature, worrying about Leesil on a number of levels, fighting just to survive each night when the sun goes down, dealing with a sense of guilt for the false life she has led up until now, and yearning for the settled, peaceful life she craves so dearly.
All of the main characters are complex and very human (or nonhuman, as the case may be), even the dog Chap. That makes the fight scenes all the more thrilling, and the Hendees know how to make vampire action exciting, I can assure you. There are a number of skirmishes and knock-down-drag-out-cut-off-the-head fights in these pages, each of them described in vivid detail. The thrill of it all isn't just blood lust either; the multi-layered richness to the vampires' lives and relationships raises them far above the level of simple monsters representing evil incarnate.
You still get your basic vampire mythology here, but some unusual additions to the lore help keep things lively and unpredictable. The fights are a joy to experience, as you get all sorts of killing instruments and murder techniques thrown in (garlic water, for example, when applied liberally to a vampire's skin, bakes it up into a most satisfying charred, smoky mess). The emotional growth of both Magiere and Leesil as the novel progresses offers a strong undercurrent that connects with the reader on a very human level, making these characters ones you really want to meet up with again in the future. The Hendees have created a truly vibrant world ready to open its arms wide to all vampire aficionados. Those who crave vampire-fighting action can sate their needs quite well in the pages of this novel, while those who want to understand the nature and motivations of vampires and their foes are in for a really special treat.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 28 December 2003
A friend recommended this paperback to me, and I'm glad he did. The cover quote of "A mix of 'The Lord of the Rings' and 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer'" is perhaps pushing it a bit, but the book is a fun adventure, set in a typical swords & sorcery setting - but with some rather nasty and persistent vampires in the background!
It took me a while to warm to our heroine Magiere, the vampire slayer, and her sidekick, because they were con artists, supplying a fake vampire, pretending to kill it, and taking more of a reward than any poor village could afford without starving for the rest of the winter. But gradually, once the real vampires get involved, the tale heats up. Magiere wants to retire and run an inn... but the local vampires, used to picking off villagers as they require them, have decidedly different ideas. Well-drawn characters, exciting conflicts - if this general description tempts you, I don't think you will be disappointed...
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 8 March 2006
I must admit that I`m very picky about what I read so when I picked up this book I thought I was going to end up disappointed - but I was wrong.
The reason I thought I would end up disappointed is that this book takes a while to warm up for me, in fact it was almost halfway through the book that it finally hooked me.
The book focuses on Magiere, a `Dhampir` born of a human mother and a vampire father, Leesil, a half-elf, and his dog Chap.
With the help of Leesil playing the undead, Magiere plays on superstition on every village her and her partner come accross and plays the "Hunter" to rid these villages of their undead.
However after an unknown number of years Magiere grows tired of the `Game` and buys a tavern so she and Leesil can settle down and retire for some peace and quite.
However, things aren`t so simple and when she faces an actual vampire and kills him she doesn`t realise she has set in motion a whole new situation she could never have foreseen.
Now the `Hunter` has become the `Hunted` and Magiere is left to discover her heritage, her abilities and just how deep her courage really goes.
Although this book takes a while to warm up it is worth sticking with and eventually leaves you longing for more.
I highly recommend `Dhampir` as it is well written, different and above all develops the charactors well.
My final opinion is that you will not be disappointed by the book if you give it the chance it so richly deserves.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
This was pretty good. It has hints of a mediaeval Buffy about it but it has a very different feel to it.
Two con artists are pretending to be vampire slayers and conning innocent villagers when they actually come across a real vampire and it appears that one of the con artists does have latent vampire killing skills...
Where this was different was that it avoided the traditional fantasty 'quest' and end of the world scenario and goes for a low key conflict set in a small town. Characters are developed and explored (including the vamps) as the story moves on.
Very enjoyable and I await the next one with keen interest.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on 12 September 2003
A good start to a promising series , vampires in a medieval setting with a modern view on survival . The Hero party a Human Woman ? an Elf and a well bred dog keep the interest with their character development , A good plot with a couple of twists to surprise and entertain . Even the good guys have a bad day .. Future plot lines are nicely inserted you know this is going to continue and give a reason for waiting for the latest book .
I recommend this to any fantasy afficiados although it has a vampire content the story makes good fantasy reading . Enjoy .
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 20 November 2006
When I was at school, I would only read the books that were necessary for the exams I had to take. Once I started work, the daily commute eventually persuaded me that reading would be an excellent way to pass the time, although I would only read horror (well I was only 18).

These days I am quite an avid reader and I recently saw this book in the shops. It seemed an interesting story and with shades of "Blade" and the numerous other vampire stories I loved, I thought I'd give it a go. I'm very pleased I did.

As can be garnered from the summary on the book, the story revolves around a vampire hunter Magiere and her partner in crime. It is a little reminiscent of "BLade", although Magiere only learns her true form as the book progresses rather than knowing from the start. This adds a certain amount of charm and also lets you join in the discovery with her. The book moves at a cracking pace and is very easy to read. I even found myself getting off the train in the dark and staying at the station to finish a chapter.

To be honest, it is prettty predictable, but this did not taint the experience for me at all. Whether this is because it reminded me of some of the early books I had read or something else, I'm not sure. I'm happy to give the benefit of the doubt and say that it is just a well-written and exciting story.

This is the first of a trilogy and I will definitely be getting the next two installments. Recommended.
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on 20 May 2009
Margiere is my kind of girl. She really is. Leesil, her business partner actually described her as being `heartless' and my own stone of a heart might just have skipped a beat. She is tough and strong and vicious and ruthless.

The story starts with the two of them conning a village by getting `rid off' their Vampire infestation using props and coloured power and a white face-painted Leesil. It then turns out that Margiere has been saving her share of the profits and has enough money to by a tavern in a small sea-side town of Miinsk. After a bot of coaxing Leesil and his dog Chap agree to go with her. There she hopes to leaves her `Vampire' hunting past behind her and have an uneventful life but the forces are conspiring against her. And by forces I mean one man who killed the previous tavern owner in order to get Margiere here.

Why? Because she is a Dhampir. A half-breed (human and Vampire) who has the best of both species and is the perfect fighting machine against full blooded Vampires. And the more she realised about herself the more terrified she became and as I reader I felt for her. She had no one to explain to her (except for the Man Pulling the Strings but he spoke in annoying riddles and hidden truths) what was happening and the only person who wasn't scared of her was Leesil.

Who I love. Very much. He is the perfect tortured hero. Plagued my nightmares of his past and an alcohol habit to prevent the dreams, he is described as being handsome and lithe and very, very funny. As a half-elf we learn that his mother went against tradition by marrying a human and teaching her human husband and her half-blood son the ways of her people, and more specifically they ways of Elvish assassins, which is what she was. Leesil until the age of 17 killed on demand but couldn't take it anymore. So he left and knows that his parents would have both been killed because of his betrayal, which is another reason for the alcohol - to drown the guilt.

But when he knew it was important he stopped drinking and started to learn all over again so that he could help Margiere in doing what needed to be dome to save the community. The three Vampires were wealthy merchants who owned one of the largest import and export warehouses in Miinsk. They paid their workers fair and generous wages, mainly because the head Vampire wanted nothing more than to be accepted. And after reading this I started to wonder just who had killed the people. The Vampires had for food, but they had been doing it for years in a less a brutal fashion as possible. Someone else had been vicious in order to attract Margiere's attention and force the villagers to guilt-trip her into helping them.

And my attention turned to the Man with the Strings.

When the book finished, he was still in control of everything, Leesil and Margiere had grown closer (yay!), Chap is hinting at being more than a normal dog, and we know for certain that their Vampire hunting adventures are not over. I also loved Margiere and Leesil together. He knows he wants more than friendship from her but with all that is going on he doesn't push her. And I loved that. Like with the book above, their love was not the most important thing. It is entertaining and funny, but not a priority.

I really enjoyed reading this book. It is a somewhat darker take on Vampires - in this case they are not objects of affection or lust, and was brilliantly written.
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Dhampir is a strong read; good pacing, solid narrative, interesting and complex characters. It puts to good use elements of the gothic, medievalism and paranormal/mythical characters.

Magiere is an understated but not underwritten character, clever and resilient she is the strategist behind her and her partner the talented Leesil's con. Magiere plays the Hunter, Leesil her prey. They make much depriving hard done by peasants of the little they have. But Magiere wants peace, she buys a tavern so she can settle and belong to one place. As they begin their journey to the little town of Miska however an encounter with a crazed "peasant" with unnatural abilities starts Magiere down the path to discovering what she really is and who she wants to be. The creature is of course a vampire and is connected rather unfortunately with a group of three vampires - Rashed, Teesha and Ratboy - who reside in Miska, they feel his demise and perceive Magiere as a threat. This begins a game of tit for tat between the two.

This is quite a closed in fantasy, the focus is more on the characters and the social aspect of Miska than a questing epic where the good fight evil. This is definitely not a detriment and makes the hunting scenes all the more effective and thrilling. The world created here is harsh; this is a land of browns and greys, physically and morally. This transcends to the characters, often it is ambiguous as to who we should side with. This is due to their complexity, each has several motivations, the vampires especially. Neither particularly want to fight each other, really there are many reflections between the two; both have travelled to Miska to make a life for themselves, both have created their own businesses and in doing so seek to find a place in society, this is because both are filled with a yearning for aspects of life that will humanise them. This is particularly poignant with the vampires, you really feel drawn into their story, the chapter on Teesha's turning is particularly good. And it makes the decent into their darker natures more compelling. This yearning carries through to their relationships, Rashed, their stoic warrior leader (with a good business sense) thinks of nothing but Teesha in all his plans but is unable to act not because he's a vampire but because of his warrior sensibilities. It is things like this that give this book depth and make it compelling, everything is well drawn. I very much recommend it.
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I'm not a big fan of vampire novels as a rule, but as this was set in a medieval period I thought I would give this book a chance, and I must say that i'm glad I did, this book has great characters and a good plot with a decent amount action too. I'll give you a little intro into the book now.

The story starts with Magiere and Leesil two con artists who go from small town to small town pretending to be vampire hunters, after their last job they are camping in the woods when they're attacked by a real vampire who believes them to be real hunters, after the battle the vampire dead they head to a small town to open an inn, what they don't know is that the brother of the vampire they killed has made this small town his home, with his family of the noble dead he starts a war with the hunters only to find Magiere is his worst nightmares come to life.

This is a decent read, i'm hoping the next books in the series are going to be better, from the reviews on Amazon I think they will be.

I hope this review was of some help to you.
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on 1 May 2009
I have a fondness for gutsy female heroines who kick undead behind and Dhampir is my absolute favourite book of this kind.

Magiere and her half-elven companion (Leesil) are con artists travelling the lands by pretending to kill undeads that are plaguing poor villages. Neither of them even believe in vampires. Then they quit the game to settle down and run an inn in a quiet seaside town that oh dear, is plagued by vampires!

The quote on the back of the book says Buffy meets LOTR but I think its more like Xena meets Buffy.

The absolute strength of this book is the relationship between the 2 main characters which sparks right off the page. There is plenty of action and the bad guys are given just as much time as our heroes which really balances the book and makes it a bit different than your usual girl stakes vampire caper.

Recommended to those who want a smart, witty and engaging read.
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