Review – The Cainite Conspiracies (Vampire: Dark Ages)

The Cainite Conspiracies was released in 2016 (along with The Endless Ages Anthology) to mark the 25th anniversary of Vampire: the Masquerade. Edited by Monica Valentinelli, it presents 14 short stories over about 150 pages (that’s one story per Dark Ages Clan, plus the Salubri). I happened to buy my copy directly from Onyx Path at a convention, but it’s available in a variety of formats from DriveThruRPG and in a kindle version from Amazon.

My favorite story in the anthology was David A. Hill, Jr.’s Eighty and Nine. This Malkavian-centered story features the protagonist’s subterranean descent into a series of visions.

Also, I was tickled pink to find a Toreador story (by Russell Zimmerman) featuring Isouda de Blaise, who I had recently (but prior to reading this anthology) referenced in our ongoing tabletop chronicle, Providence by Night. She reigned as Queen of one of the Courts of Love in southern France, and A Quest for Blood sees her reaping the rewards of the affection she has engendered in her servitors.

Other notable tales included Andrew Peregrine’s Sand and Dust, featuring a Nosferatu knight learning how little faith means to his fellow Cainites, and Alan Alexander’s Ghosts of Chorazin, which gets into metaplot about the Banu Haqim crushing of the Baali that let to their original clan weakness (addiction to diablerie). However, there was some real drop-off in the Cainite Conspiracies, with a higher portion of misfires (at least 4 out of 14) than I would have liked to see in the stories (including the first two tales in the book, which got the anthology off on the wrong foot for me). I’m happy I bought the Cainite Conspiracies, but then I have more than 70 other World of Darkness novels/anthologies on my bookshelves, so what I’m interested may not be the most objective standard. A more discerning connoisseur may want to look elsewhere – but, then, since the digital edition is only $3, that could be well worth it just for the better half of the anthology.

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