A Bit Of Laurentia | 13 January 2015 | Lauren

I recently finished my second read of The Saga of Darren Shan by Darren Shan. I first read these books when I was about 10, so it was interesting to get a fresh perspective on the books 10 years later. The story follows the titular character, Darren Shan, who is forced to give up his life as a normal boy in order to become a half-vampire and assistant to the vampire Larten Crepsley. Naturally, Darren's life as a vampire doesn't run very smoothly and before he knows it, he's caught up in a war that will affect the future of the whole world. There's been a big boom in vampire fiction since Twilight, so much so that the genre has been given a bit of a bad reputation. But vampires in The Saga of Darren Shan aren't the pretty, glitter-in-the-sun type - they're fierce warriors that covet strength and honour above all. There is a small amount of romance but it's certainly not the driving force of the story.



There are a few other things that make this series unique (as far as I know, anyway). Most importantly, there are two types of vampire clan; vampires and vampaneze. Vampires don't kill humans when they drink their blood, instead they only take small amounts of blood - just enough to survive. Vampaneze, however, believe it is more honourable to drain their victims dry, killing them in the process. Another thing that sets it apart from typical vampire fiction is that other aspects of fantasy are incorporated into the story, making it an essential read for any fan of the fantasy genre.



In Cirque du Freak, Darren is blooded by Mr Crepsley and leaves his human life behind. The Vampire's Assistant follows Darren and Mr Crepsley as they join up with the Cirque du Freak. In Tunnels of Blood someone is on a murderous rampage in Mr Crepsley's hometown,



In Vampire Mountain, Darren and Mr Crepsley travel to the home of the vampire clan. Trials of Death sees Darren attempt to win the respect of his fellow vampires by taking the Trials of Initiation. In The Vampire Prince, Darren must risk death to stop a plot to end the vampire clan.



In Hunters of the Dusk, the hunt for the Lord of the Vampaneze begins. Allies of the Night sees Darren unexpectedly reacquainted with some old faces. In Killers of the Dawn, the hunters face the Lord of the Vampaneze for a second time.



In The Lake of Souls, Darren and Harkat must travel through a strange wasteland to discover Harkat's true identity. Lord of the Shadows has Darren travel back to his hometown. In Sons of Destiny, the outcome of the War of the Scars is about to be decided.

 

I could go on forever about the characters. Shan's done an amazing job at creating deep, realistic characters that will make you smile, laugh, cringe or even cry. Although there is at least one character who is arguably evil through and through, Shan has portrayed an important concept in any story - that people aren't purely evil or purely good. Those considered evil are still capable of doing good and redeeming themselves, just as the good can be driven to commit evil acts.


There are twelve books to the series but, as you can see, they're very short books so it's easy to fly through them. And you will fly through them. The word 'unputdownable' has never applied more. They are technically children's books but after reading them as a 20-year-old, I can honestly say I love them as much as I did when I was 10. The language is more childlike to begin with but becomes more mature as the story progresses, reflecting Darren's growth as a vampire.


I hope this post has convinced you to at least try the first book. I've read a lot of books - and there are even more that I've yet to read - but this series will always be one of my favourites.

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