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The Saga of Darren Shan (Vampire Blood Trilogy)
Blood Beast The Demonata, Book 5. Demon Apocalypse The Demonata, Book 6. The Cirque du Freak provides a memorable backdrop for the first two novels and boasts a colourful gallery of characters. Although not many of them are actually important to the story, the chapters that describe the acts neatly set the tone and are utterly unforgettable.
From Alexander Ribs, the contortionist who can play his rib cage like a xylophone, to the exotic Madame Truska, who can grow a full beard at will, the circus is described in such intricate detail that it allows the reader to feel as though they are truly there. With regards to the quality of these first three novels, I feel that Cirque du Freak is probably the best of the bunch. The setting here was still brand new and exciting, and the double threat of both Madame Octa and Mr Crepsley maintain tension throughout the tale.
The final novel, Tunnels of Blood , was probably the weakest of the three as it had an entirely different tone — being more of a mystery story than the other two. Although it probably was the most important of the novels as it revealed a lot of information with regards to how the vampire society is structured, it was the least memorable. While this was not always a bad thing as it did provide Darren with a lot of emotional development, it did mean that there was a bit more exposition in this story and so the prose felt a little clunkier as a result.
They operate as a civilised society, run by Princes and policed by Generals, which has a great focus on honour and respect for life. Killing humans is only done as a way to preserve the memories of someone who is already dying as such memories are passed on by the blood , and so generally a vampire will only drain a tiny amount from a victim in order to feed. Due to the first person perspective of the series, we learn how the vampire world functions at the same rate that Darren does.
Although he is initially ignorant of their ways, showing up to fight Mr Crepsley with only a crucifix and holy water as protection, as the series progresses our knowledge grows. The biggest developments to the lore come in Tunnels of Blood , in which Darren discovers that there are, in fact, vampires that do kill people as they take the opposing view that it is noble to take on the memories of another.
By the end of this trilogy it still feels as though we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg. Although many things have been hinted with regards to the way the Generals function, Darren has seen little of this world and so it will be interesting to see it expand further over the next few novels. When it comes to characterisation, Darren is presented masterfully. Although I had some initial concerns that he would become a Gary-Stu he just seemed abnormally nice for a boy his age as the story progresses it becomes clear that he is more developed than this.
Although Darren begins the series as a typical teenage boy, he rapidly matures through his experiences. His heightened strength as a vampire forces him to learn how to act responsibility, learning that his new situation brings with it a need to take special care to avoid harming those close to him.
The needs of his half-vampire body cause him to face some ethical dilemmas, such as if it is wrong to feed from humans if he is still partially one himself. The relationships that Darren holds with those around him also develop gradually as the story progresses. On the reverse of this, Darren begins his life as a half-vampire bearing a powerful grudge against Mr Crepsley, even considering murdering him on a couple of occasions, but their friendship gradually grows stronger as they travel together.
There is one more relationship that I think is worthy of mention — that between Darren and his family — as this bond is exceptionally powerful. This is not a problem here. When it comes to characterisation in these novels, I have but one complaint — the startling lack of female characters. Neither of these characters actually felt like real girls. On the whole, the first three novels of The Saga of Darren Shan form a really strong start of the series.
Although Tunnels of Blood was the weakest story of the three, it was still essential reading as it began to introduce the key concepts of the series and introduce the plot threads that will carry over to the next trilogy. My only real criticism of the series is the lack of strong female characters, which I hope is rectified in later instalments. I would certainly say that the Vampire Blood Trilogy is essential reading for a teen horror fan, as it offers a very interesting take on the vampire genre. You are commenting using your WordPress.
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