The Moonlight Brigade
Sarah Jane Stratford
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Buy *The Moonlight Brigade: A Millennial Novel* by Sarah Jane Stratford

The Moonlight Brigade: A Millennial Novel
Sarah Jane Stratford
St. Martin's Griffin
320 pages
August 2011
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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The second book in the Millennial series focuses on Mors, a vampire who is more than a thousand years old. In the previous book, The Midnight Guardian, a group of similarly aged vampires went to Berlin in an effort to stop the Nazi plans for war. Unfortunately, they weren't able to prevent the WWII, and one their own went missing. Mors left to look for him.

The Moonlight Brigade begins in 1941 Berlin. Mors is searching for any clue about the missing vampire, Cleland. Instead, he finds two stranger vampires and rescues them from the elite Nazi vampire hunters. The male vampire calls himself Rembrandt, and he is relieved to follow the older and far more experienced Mors. Rembrandt turns out to have skills with the radio, and he looks for BBC broadcasts which might give hope to the small group. The female vampire, Apolline, has managed to seduce one of the Nazis and is trying to pry information out of him. Rembrandt neither trusts nor likes her, and Mors has to act as a peacemaker between them.

Mors finds Cleland's scent and investigates local priests, but the vampires are forced to flee Berlin. Mors decides to go to Rome, his old home, where he finds a fascinating mortal woman who is putting together a Roman resistance movement against fascism. Mors wants to liberate Rome and starts to teach the resistance how to shoot and make bombs.

About half of the book tells the story of Mors's life, which began as a General during the Roman Republic. A contemporary of Caius Julius Caesar, Mors was almost as remarkable as the more famous general. Mors was a gifted fighter and a leader from the start, and his men admired him. The chapters titled ”A History of Mors” tell his story beginning in Rome, where he was a wild young vampire who did not care for the company of any other vampires until befriending Otonia, who loves books and history and showed Mors that history is worth studying. Throughout his life, Mors has become a formidable fighter who enjoys life to the fullest.

No angst-ridden undead here. They tend to enjoy their long lives, and many of them appreciate culture, such as music, theater, and literature. Still, none of them shy away from the cold fact that they must kill humans to survive. Many enjoy the hunt and choose their victims carefully, when possible. Perhaps only the Nazis can be portrayed as even more inhuman than vampires, and as such they are a great choice as villains.

Mors has no regrets about turning into a vampire, and he enjoys fighting and killing. He is arrogant and vain about his looks, skills, and vampiric charms, and with good reason. He is an extraordinary fighter and because of his long life he has powers that others do not have. He is often cheerful and looks at the bright side of all things. For a wealthy nobleman who grow up during the Roman Republic, he has surprisingly modern notions; of course, to a vampire all humans are food, no matter if they are men, women, Jews, Christians, heterosexuals or gays.

While Mors is clearly the star of the book, most of the other characters are also written entertainingly. The villains are somewhat one dimensional, but they are seen only through the eyes of Mors and his friends. Rembrandt despises humans--especially women--and tries to convince Mors not to rely on them at all. Apolline enjoys her work as seductress of humans and tries to manipulate Mors through her behavior as a weak woman and through sex. A few German people are showed resisting the Nazi regime, but most are either fascists or at least afraid to resist.

The historical details for the WWII era are solid, and the Italian resistance movement (made up of all women and girls) is fascinating. The woman were more likely to be able to walk around without suspicion than men in certain circumstances, but they are just as able and willing to fight for freedom as the men.

Unlike the first book, The Moonlight Brigade has a romance. While most of the other vampires have found their beloved partners, Mors has already lost a few during his mortal life and is not looking for a new one. Still, he might find one.

Although s things play out a little too conveniently and easily for the characters, overall this is an enjoyable read.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Mervi Hamalainen, 2012

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