Stephanie Meyer and Deborah Harkness need a lesson in what a vampire really is and that lesson is "The Fallen Blade". Jon Courtenay Grimwood has taken a step back (thank God) towards the more traditional vampire myth. However, what really drew me to this book was its setting in 15th century Venice - a historical novel with vampires, witches and werewolves and plenty of political intrigue? Sounds pretty damn good to me!
Although the plot was sound and kept me reading, the characters fell short of what I expected. To me it seemed as though the characters were underdeveloped and jumps in time within the plot really didn't help with that. I also found the relationship between the characters Giulietta, Tycho and Leopold rather confusing, although this was balanced out, in some ways, by the intricate political plot line.
The writing style was also a little confusing in some places in that I had to read over the dialogue several times before I could understand what was going on and who was speaking.
Overall I'd rather give this book 3.5 stars - I'd like to give it more but the characters were a let down and prose could have been more clear. However, Grimwood redeems himself by creating a powerful plot line and I'll definitely be picking up the next book.