bookloons.com | 27 April 2010 | Hilary Williamson
The Vampire Prince concludes a three-part adventure for Darren Shan that began with Vampire Mountain and continued in Trials of Death. Darren was introduced to the community of vampires on Vampire Mountain, and was generally accepted by them. Then events forced him to take on the Trials of Initiation. Unfortunately he failed on and (the penalty being death) was persuaded to flee, which resulted in betrayal and the death of a friend. The beginning of this episode grabs you like a flash flood (literally) as Darren is washed out of the mountain by a raging torrent. His survival depends on his adoption by a wolf pack (I knew we'd meet Rudi and Streak again!) Though temporarily safe, Darren decides that he must warn the vampire community about the traitor in their midst and the vampaneze plot against them, so heads back into danger accompanied by wolves, and surprisingly aided by a Guardian of the Blood. Of course, once the vampires are convinced of the truth of Darren's tale they are up in arms. But a head to head attack would result in at best a Pyrrhic victory. Naturally it is Darren who comes up with a plan involving Madame Octa, and Operation Arachnid is underway! Darren's initial enthusiasm for battle wanes quickly after he participates in one and sees the results first hand. While still admiring 'the strength, honesty and loyalty' of the vampires, he begins to question the rigidity of their beliefs. And when the traitor explains his actions, they don't seem quite so clear-cut either and Darren concludes that he is 'both a hero and a villain.' It seems that 'the Vampaneze Lord' has been discovered; he 'is learning their ways' and Mr. Tiny's dire prophecy will probably come to pass. But what will happen to Darren in the meantime? He is still under penalty of death. Will Mr. Crepsley and his other supporters be able to save him? You'll have to read the book to find out. Though my sons and I didn't enjoy this episode quite as much as others (it slowed down in the second half), it has set a stirring stage for the next one, Hunters of the Dusk. Is the Vampaneze Lord someone we've already met. Can you guess who? And will Darren, in his new role, be able to foil Des Tiny's prophecy? It's going to be hard to wait to find out!
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