Pros: Very immersive book
Cons: Not as violent as Martin's successful fantasy series 'A Song of Ice and Fire'
FEVRE DREAM by George R. R. Martin (A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE SERIES, NIGHTFLYERS, SANDKINGS, TUF VOYAGING, etc.) is an excellent book, probably an even better vampire tale than the Anne Rice stories (INTERVIEW, LESTAT, et. al.).
The plot takes place in 1850s concerns an old riverboat pilot, Abner Marsh owner of a small fleet of steamboats, fallen on hard times, who faces immediate financial ruin. He is approached one night in a seedy river-front saloon by a strange, fashionably attired and mysterious young man named Joshua York, who makes him a business proposition. With certain peculiar conditions, mainly dealing with privacy, Joshua will lend the pilot enough cash money not only to get him out of debt, but to build the steamboat he's always dreamed of. The pilot accepts, and their adventures begin, stretching over twenty years, through the Civil War and early reconstruction, from the Ohio and the Mississippi, to the lesser waterways and bayou's of Louisiana. The friendship that develops between these historical (?) characters lasts even further, beyond death.
It not a spoiler to reveal that Joshua York is a vampire who has his own agenda and wishes to ..find other members of his dying race to unite them and ally with humanity to their mutual benefit. This is a vampire novel after all.
The book has some really interesting views on vampires, including a genetic hierarchical structure of their society, and it deals with vampire society (such as it is) in much the same straightforward way that the Rice books do. What really endeared it to me, however, was the interplay between Marsh and the vampires. Marsh is a truly driven man, but he's also a truly noble character who gives his all for his partner when things go bad. The characterization of Marsh and his supporting characters, and even the vampires (who are generally displayed as an emotionless lot, but not entirely) is what really makes the book great.. The steamboat itself was so brilliantly portrayed and detailed that it almost came to life before me eyes. Martin certainly did his research on steamboat of that particular era.
The end of the book is damned depressing (and I mention this as a merit, I always admire a book that can depress me); it affected me like no other book since Martin's TUF VOYAGING has, only more intensely. I have a feeling that there were a lot of metaphors in the book, but I was never good at understanding them, so they lost me. Regardless, I truly enjoyed this book.
The bottom line is that it is an enjoyable and very intriguing read, giving the reader lots to think about, and is highly recommended to all lovers of SF/fantasy vampire lore out there.
You should also check out Martin's fantasy series
A song of Ice and Fire
A Game of Thrones
A Clash of Kings
A Storm of Swords