Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Lord Ruthven Begins – review

Authors: Jules Dornay & Frank J Morlock

Volume first published: 2010

Contains spoilers

The Blurb: My science is cursed. I meddled with impenetrable mysteries. My impious eye has sounded the depths of the tomb, and from there, I have made an infernal monster appear. Three days ago, you laughed at the notion of those creatures whose lives continue after death, but they exist, the vampires live!

Scotland, 1648. Sir William Clifford expects to receive the vast Ruthven estates after the death of the old Lord, but a young man suddenly appears, claiming to the be (sic) the new Lord Ruthven, and also claiming the hand of the beautiful Anna Clifford in marriage.

Only Anna's lover, Dr. Maxwell, knows the handsome stranger's ghastly secret—that he is a vampire returned from the grave!

The origins of the accursed Lord Ruthven are finally revealed for the first time in Volume 3 of this unique trilogy, which includes Lord Ruthven Begins, an 1868 play by Jules Dornay and The Confession of Mary Queen of Scots Regarding Lord Ruthven, an all-new story by playwright and translator Frank J. Morlock.

The review: This is the third Ruthven volume by Black Coat Press and, in honesty, after the volumes Lord Ruthven the Vampire and the Return of Lord Ruthven this feels a little like an after-thought.

Regular readers know that I am a big fan of Black Coat Press and so it pains me to say it, but it has neither the breadth of material of the first book or the fantastic penmanship of Dumas from the second book.

It isn’t really a Ruthven either. Actually Dornay’s play was Douglas le Vampyre and it is within this volume that the character of Lord Douglas has been renamed Ruthven. The reasoning is clear as the play is clearly based upon earlier Ruthven plays – indeed some moments are lifted wholesale from earlier Ruthven plays. That said the actions of one of the characters, Fanny, make the character ahead of her time. Lore is changed – whilst moonlight can revive the vampire it becomes more complex than previously seen:

“The vampire can be reborn three times. Life can be returned to the body when it is exposed to the action of lunar rays, before its remains have been confided to the Earth again; like a living man, it is subject to the chances other men run of death, and when for a third time, it has perished by a violent death, all resurrection is impossible. It returns to nothingness.”

The story also has a vampiric death by lightning – put down, in this case, to being an act of God.

The additional piece by Morlock is a short, teasing piece that attempts to offer us an origin for Ruthven’s vampirism.

So, the play has a little to offer lore wise but this is perhaps one for the serious collector/student rather than those having a casual flirtation with Ruthven. 5.5 out of 10.


RoseOfTransylvania said...

I don´t know about this but I loved The Return of Lord Ruthven - I totally agree with fantastic penmanship by Alexandre Dumas!

Taliesin_ttlg said...

it ihas some interesting lore shifts but... altogether not up with the others... that said a fourth has just been released that looks much more interesting

Unknown said...

I love how Nolan's Batman films influence everything now, including how Translations of French Vampire plays are named.

Taliesin_ttlg said...


Unknown said...

My personal preference for Lord Ruthven's origin would be simply to view him as the Vampire alias of Lord Byron.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

I can understand that

Unknown said...

I've changed my mind on that actually. I've decided I don't want to Vilify Byron. still not sure I'd like this origin story though.

In the Vampire stories I'm writing, I've now decided to make The Vampyr Lord Ruthven this guy.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Fair call

Unknown said...

It seems like here the whole Begins thing applies more to Morlock's story then the actual play being translated.

Taliesin_ttlg said...


Unknown said...

There are actually a number of Historical Lord Ruthvens

Some are contemporary with Mary Queen of Scots. And have appears in movies about her and James I. I wonder if one of them is who Morlock had in mind in writing this.

Taliesin_ttlg said...


Unknown said...

This one Morlock's original story is written like it's a play, or part of one. I liked how it started but really where it went though. It does appear to identify the Vampire with the Historical Patrick Ruthven (or one of his sons) who murdered David Rizzio.

Ironically this figure had intermarried with the historical Douglas family. So he could made the identification for the main play work without completely changing the name.

Unknown said...

I've posted some thought of mine on this play here.