Friday, September 16, 2016

Blood of the Dragon: The Journals of Vlad Draculya the Impaler – review

Author: David T Pudlevitcz

Illustrator: David St. Albans

Release date: 2015

Contains spoilers

The blurb: Being the only true journal of Vladislaus Tepes Bassarab called Draculya; Voivode of Wallachia, Knight Order of the Dragon, Defender of the Faith and the Realm of the Holy Roman Empire, Count of Transylvania, Protector of Moldavia, Bey of the Ottoman Sultans, Alchemist, Necromancer, Vampyre! Penned by his own dead hand.

The review: The first thing to say about Blood of the Dragon is that it is a tome of considerable length. Published as penned by Pudlecitcz and illustrated by St Albans the first conceit of the book is that it is a publication of the actual journal of Vlad III, bookended with chapters around the archaeologists forced to do so by the vampire.

This vampire is the creature of Stoker’s novel but it was Stoker who led the fight against the vampire and Dracula is (an inaccurate, according to the vampire) recollection of those events.

The bulk of the novel takes in the events surrounding the birth and life of Vlad III and ties vampirism in at an early stage in his life when Vlad and friends, whilst in Constantinople at age 9, are attacked by a vampire. Vlad is forced to help detect the grave and destroy the vampire – and this includes pouring the vampire’s blood over the boy. Unfortunately blood gets into a cut on Vlad’s tongue and the “vampiric ally” attaches itself to the boy – therefore much of Vlad’s bloodthirstiness in life was due to being a living vampire.

You can see this as a type of vampiric possession and Vlad is lucky to survive with soul/will intact and not become a minor undead. Eventually the ally is exorcised but Vlad will, subsequently, invite another ally to become a parasitic/symbiotic part of himself and this is what allows him to live beyond death.

The book invokes a variety of names and types of vampires, draws in some figures such as Erzsébet Báthory and the Comte de Saint-Germain (as periphery mentions more than anything) and layers fiction onto history (and some pseudo-history) in a satisfying way. The archaic turns of phrase actually work in context – especially compared to other books where they jar. Most fundamentally the book draws on Lovecraftian mythos at its heart.

This version of Dracula can walk during overcast days, when well fed, but temporarily dies in sunlight (the book actually misses, given it was supposedly written at the end of the 19th century, that sunlight was not listed within vampiric myth in any great measure, if at all, until the release of Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens). This Dracula feasts on negative emotion as much as the blood it is conveyed on and steals souls for his master as he does so (to reveal more than this is too much of a spoiler).

The most important thing the book manages to do is give the character a strong voice; it is a narcissistic, egoist voice, prone to self-contradiction and repeating salient points – but it is a genuine voice. Worth the entry price, indeed. 7.5 out of 10.

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