Award-winning writer Ioana Visan has always dreamed about reaching the stars, but since she can't, she writes about it.
After fighting the apocalypse aftermath in "Human Instincts", she played with shapeshifters in “Blue Moon Café Series: Where Shifters Meet for Drinks”, and then she dealt with vampires in “The Impaler Legacy” series, before tackling longer works like a fantasy trilogy and a science fiction series.
Aside from publishing short stories in various Romanian magazines and anthologies, she published a short story collection "Efectul de nautil" and the Romanian edition of "Human Instincts".
She was awarded the Encouragement Award by The European Science Fiction Society at Eurocon 2013.
The Impaler Legacy Omnibus by Ioana Visan
In a world crawling with vampires, Romania is the safest place left on earth. Thanks to the Little Council, there hasn't been a vampire on Romanian ground in over five centuries, until one day when Liana Cantacuzino is ordered to bring one in, covertly.
Enter Maximilien Hess, a thousand-year-old vampire determined to ruin the existing order of things. When all is revealed, Hess's secret changes everything, and a reluctant alliance is formed because the alternative is much worse.
The Impaler Legacy Omnibus, a vampire saga like no other, includes:The Impaler’s Revenge (novella)Sweet Surrender (short story)A Victory that Counts (novella)Casualties of War (short story)Order Restored (novella)The Third Wheel (short story)
MyRating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Whether or not you are a fan of vampire tales, The Impaler Legacy is a series you should read, if only to be introduced to Ioana Visan's new spin on a classic story. However, if you are expecting yet another vampire-human love story, you won't find it here.
What a twist to find out that vampires were banished from, even illegal, in Romania! This is the heartland of all vampiric stories yet you wouldn't find one in this country - unless they were completely dead, of course. To make sure that this law is adhered to, the government created the Little Council, a group of genetically engineered vampire hunters, and the pandur army, men who are specially trained to impale and behead vampires. Sounds somewhat like the Vampire Slayer, until you find out who started this movement hundreds of years ago! This novel literally turns legends on its head, and my mind was spinning while I went through it.
Liana Cantacuzino is a member of the Little Council who prefers to stick her head into dusty tomes and fight for the preservation of historical areas in her beloved Bucharest. It's not something to her liking when the president orders her to bring in a vampire under cover. Apart from being forced to break a centuries-old law, she's not really into diplomacy or anything else, especially when it concerns vampires that are roaming around freely in other countries. Unfortunately, there's not much she can do about the dictate than to obey it.
Vampires are recognized and accepted (mostly feared, naturally) in the rest of the world and there is no one better to remind Liana of it than the thousand year old powerful vampire by the name of Maximilien Hess. There is no one as strong or as knowledgeable as Maximilien and he takes great satisfaction in gently teaching Liana that fact. She comes to realize that much of what is believed about his race are only legends and vampires themselves spread a lot of those half-truths to protect themselves.
Maximilien has to feed, though, and as blood servants are nonexistent in Romania, the next best thing is the government blood bank. Liana must pick up the blood herself and meets Jesse Carver, a British surgeon who moved to Romania to get away from vampires. Needless to say, he sees right through the subterfuge used to get those bags of blood and quickly becomes involved in the events surrounding Liana and Maximilien.
Soon, it becomes apparent that it was not as peaceful in Romania as it seemed on the surface. Reports trickle in of people being attacked by deranged vampires which, considering it hasn't happened in centuries, sends a ripple of panic through the Little Council. It becomes apparent that the pandurs aren't as ready as they thought, not being able to practice their fighting skills on the only enemy they were trained to fight. But when a price is put on Liana's head by renegade vampires, all hell breaks loose and the pandurs are sent off to cull the threat at the opposite end of the world, commanded by Liana herself, partnered with a force of vampires led by Maximilien.
And that is only a third into the omnibus! There is nothing flighty in this saga; in fact, there is a lot of blood and gore not just because of the expected vampire attacks, but because everybody is plunged into a war which, if not contained, threatens to spread worldwide. It's only the combined forces of sworn enemies - the pandurs and the vampires - that have a chance of getting it under control. Ms Visan paints that picture with chilling clarity, with the gritty violence you would expect from a war story, not a tale about supernatural beings. There is a lot of graphic killing and torture in this book, yes, but more painful are the scenes when the characters war with themselves about whether what they are doing is right or humane and forcing themselves to come to grips with the horrors of battle and genocide. Friends and allies are lost in droves and still they must cover up their emotions and compromise "for the greater good."
It's not light reading either (warning to those who prefer fluff!), but this complex, dark world is one which will draw you in and hold you in thrall. You'll not be able to stop until the answers are all revealed and yet, Ioana Visan ends the Impaler Legacy on a cliffhanger! I am craving to know more about Maximilien and his world of vampires because of that epilogue. Yet she says her characters will rest now? Please, no!
“Hop up.” Jesse patted the top of a desk that seemed about the height of a consultation table.
I climbed on the desk and rested my hands on both sides, holding onto the edge of the lacquered wood. I had to resist the urge to wiggle my feet in the air like a restless child. For some reason, his presence made me nervous.
Jesse moved to stand in front of me. A stethoscope had appeared around his neck, though he wasn’t wearing any gloves. “Okay. Now tell me how you are feeling, honestly.”
I shrugged. “Just tired, I guess. Everything seems to be fine.”
He reached for my hand, but I didn’t read anything into it. He was just checking my pulse. “I’m a little concerned about what the bite might have done to you,” he confessed. “Given how Max reacted to your blood…” He shook his head.
I appreciated his concern, but there was no reason for him to worry. “We have that effect on them, not the other way around. We’re immune to vampire blood. The Little Council would have documented it if there had been such occurrences.”
“Still, I want to make sure. Your pulse is a little elevated.”
Of course it was. He was touching me.
Jesse got the blood pressure monitor from the bag and undid the buttons on my cuff. He raised his eyebrows when he saw the stake strapped to my arm underneath the sleeve. I assumed he wasn’t expecting me to wear it in the privacy of my home.
“I’ve been a little paranoid lately,” I muttered, avoiding his inquisitive gaze.
“That’s understandable,” he said. After the attack. He didn’t say it out loud, but I knew he was thinking it.
“There’ve been other cases,” I said quietly. “Two right here in Bucharest, one in Timişoara and one in Cluj. The pandurs are on alert and many have been called from retirement to rejoin their ranks. We consider ourselves to be under siege.”
Unlike everywhere else in the world, we hadn’t had a vampire within our borders in five centuries, and now this new slow-transitioning breed had managed to infiltrate our security system. That was a serious reason to worry.
“I’m sure you’ll figure out a way to handle it.” He placed the monitor on my arm.
“We always have,” I said with a grimace. Our legacy was heavy. Still, I had never imagined we would have to prove ourselves during my lifetime. Things had been quiet for too long. Maybe it was time for something to change.
He checked the readings on the screen and announced, “The blood pressure is fine.”
Well, I could have told him that.
“Unbutton your blouse, please. I need to listen to your heart.”