The Immortal Conquistador

I know that I have yet to read the last two Kitty Norville installments. But when Carrie Vaughn announced that The Immortal Conquistador would reveal Rick the vampire's origin story, I knew I wanted to sink my teeth into this one ASAP! Portions of this work first appeared as short fiction pieces in SFF magazines, with new ones added on to cobble up a book that stands rather well on its own.

Needless to say, this one is for readers familiar with the original book sequence. Rick is an important character and I relished the opportunity to discover the backstory of this mysterious vampire. The Immortal Conquistador is the perfect companion book for fans of Vaughn's signature series.

Here's the blurb:

Discover the thrilling, deadly chronicles of the noble immortal who becomes Rick, ally to bestselling author Carrie Vaughn’s fan-favorite, Kitty Norville.

Ricardo de Avila would have followed Coronado to the ends of the earth. Instead, Ricardo found the end of his mortal life, and a new identity—as the Vampire Conquistador.

For over five hundred years, Ricardo keeps unwillingly upsetting the established order. He has protected his found family from marauding demons, teamed up with a legendary gunslinger, appointed himself the Master of Denver, and called upon a church buried under the Vatican. He has tended bar and fended off werewolves.

As the Master vampire of Denver, Rick is a major player in the Kitty Norville books. Although we know that Rick has traveled with Coronado’s expedition as a young man, thus making him more than five centuries old, little else is known about him. Rick has dropped a few hints in various Kitty installments, but he has mostly kept his past to himself. Much to Kitty's disappointment, it goes without saying! Yet here is our chance to discover how he was turned into a vampire and what ultimately led him to Denver.

The Immortal Conquistador starts off with Rick flying to Rome. During this visit to the Vatican he will meet with the Abbot of the Order of Saint Lazarus of the Shadows. These scenes occur following the events of Kitty Rocks the House, when Father Columban traveled to Denver to try to recruit him into the order. It turns out that the enigmatic Rick is an anomaly in the vampire world and the abbot would like to hear his tale. Hence, those sequences act as interludes meant to bridge the various pieces of Rick's backstory so they can form a more or less self-contained whole.

"Conquistador de la Noche" is Rick’s origin story and recounts Ricardo de Avila's early years in New Spain. It focuses on how he was turned into a vampire and the repercussions this had on his life. "El Hidalgo de la Noche" picks up years later and recounts Rick's first encounter with other vampires since being turned into one himself. His visit to Mexico City will make him realize that he's an unusual vampire and will set him on a path that will change his life forever. "Dead Men in Central City" picks up in 1848. It begins by recounting Rick's meeting with Doc Holliday, the infamous gunslinger and gambler. But it soon grows into something much bigger and it tells the tale of what forced Rick to move on to Denver.

As Carrie Vaughn explains in her author's notes, she inadvertently made Rick a witness to the entire history of European colonization and settlement of the American West. And this is what makes the inscrutable vampire such a fascinating character. My only complaint would be that Rick's backstory stops there, with just a hint that he ended up in Virginia City in 1860, running The Bucket of Blood Saloon. There is obviously a lot more to Ricardo de Avila's tale and I would have loved at least another piece taking place closer to the events of the Kitty books. Alas, it was not to be. Still, The Immortal Conquistador was a captivating read that finally shed some light on one of the most interesting and secretive characters from the Kitty universe.

This book is sure to please all the Kitty Norville fans out there!

The final verdict: 7.75/10

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