Unlike the last short story I read set in this world, this book does not strike me as entirely pointless. Lenobia isn’t dead, she’s a semi-important character and this story is useful. After all, a plot point in the main series is that Neferet has introduced a horse-loving human (that sounded wrong, especially in a series with the shagging of evil bulls) in order to get under Lenobia’s skin, especially since she has sworn an oat never to love a human again.
That begs several questions! That needs expanding and explaining! That can give us a great insight into Lenobia’s past and the no-doubt epic circumstances that have shaped her and caused her to swear such an epic vow that is causing her so much trouble to this day…
…except it kind of undermines all of that.
Because the whole set up made me picture Lenobia having an epic, tragic, terrible love affair. Perhaps she loved someone over years of great passion but, alas, the aging of the vampire inevitably took him away from her. Or the prejudice of the mortal world wouldn’t let them be together. Some epic reason why she had lost all faith in humanity as potential love interests – either human society or human frailty has convinced her that this would never be possible.
Which turns out not to be true at all! Instead it turns out that she fell in love with someone after knowing them for a few weeks (no more than 6, in fact considerably less) when she was 19 and then they died due to magical means. And she hasn’t sworn her oath because she thinks love between a human and a vampire is impossible – but because she is FAITHFUL to this dead man.
The man in question was a mixed race Black man (referred to as “mulatto” and “quadroon” in this book due to the era) who was convinced there love could never be because of racism. Lenobia continually dismissed this (which came across as a complete inability to listen to the world he was describing) and to try and convince him she decided to epicly declare she would love him or no other man! (So he better run away with her or she would be lonely forever – which, by the way, is coercive and gross).