Sunday, April 10, 2022

Dracula: His First Centuries: The Legend of Dracula, Book I – review (& revisit)

Author: Perry Lake

First Published: 2021 (2nd edition)

Contains spoilers

The Blurb: All men know the LEGEND OF DRACULA. Since the publication of Bram Stoker’s novel in 1897, the name of Dracula has Inspired terror. Yet between the death of Vlad the Impaler in 1476 and his invasion of England in 1890, there lie four centuries. So what was Dracula doing during the time?

In these nineteen stories, you will see Dracula hack and slash and plot and scheme his bloody way to the top of the undead hierarchy.

Beginning with a quartet of tales about the historical Vlad the Impaler, you will see the depths to which human depravity can descend.

Then meet Doctor Faust, the arch-sorcerer, who makes a deal with the forces of Darkness, to give him power and knowledge. Demanding a devil to serve him, Faust becomes the greatest wizard of his time. But in the end, who will end up serving whom?

Read of Dracula’s battles with the ancient Chi You, the seductive and mysterious Nycea, the cunning Erlik Iblis, the brutish Vardalekos, and the even more brutish Torbalan! Stand beside him in his struggle against those myriad vampire lords who had ruled the Night for centuries—even millennia—prior. Then watch Dracula make an alliance with Ivan the Terrible.

The origin of DRACULA lies within these pages.

The review: Perry Lake had previously published three books in his The Legend of Dracula series (you can access the original reviews for book 1, book 2 and book 3) and had provided the three for review. He contacted me recently with a fourth book and then mentioned that he had substantially changed the first three volumes. The books contain a series of short vignettes concerning Dracula and, in his words, the author has “thoroughly reworked my previous Dracula books, this time assembling the stories in chronological order and adding over 75,000 words of new stories.” I was keen to look over the reworked volumes as, whilst the series grew stronger over the volumes, the first volume was a collection of great ideas hampered somewhat within the style, as the book did jump across time periods in a jarring way. I’m glad I did and this is the new edition (also renamed) of the first volume of the series.

The prose has been corralled, offering a more linear narrative that serves to inform the reader, leading them into the world the author is building. In this world Vlad Ţepeş is the vampire we will come to know within the Stoker narrative. I need to repeat here that whilst Stoker did not base his character on Ţepeş, the concept is part of the Dracula megatext and I have no problem with other authors making the connection for their versions of the story. In this case he, as a mortal, does attend the Scholomance but, whilst aided by the terrible knowledge he accesses within the Devil’s school, he is still ultimately assassinated, his head taken to Istanbul but, decades later, the wizard Faust reclaims body and head and then resuscitates him as one of the undead. Faust’s mastery of the vampire is relatively short-lived and he ends up Vlad's slave. The volume then follows Dracula’s struggle to become ruler of the undead. The stories in this volume (bar the prologue) go up to 1578.

The vampires have to sleep in native earth but can, if well fed enough, daywalk. Mirrors hold their true face (as in what their corpse should appear as) and it is when they would have decayed far enough that they can start to shapeshift. Vlad, having been rendered down to dust in the restorative process can shift immediately. Shifting incorporates clothes into the new form but not metals (so no armour, for instance).

If I had a complaint, it isn’t a new one, and I don’t think it would surprise the author. There is a use, in dialogue, of Elizabethan pronouns. I understand some writers think it makes the language sound more authentic but to my ears – unless the writer is intimate with the rules around them (and I am not by any stretch, myself) – they can be jarring – especially imposed over a prose that feels of a modern style by dint of the author’s natural voice. I do have to make the point again as other new readers can be put off by it too but it soon faded into the background for me and didn’t overly disturb my immersion. The use has not impacted the score.

As for the score, I am pleased to say that the work Perry Lake has put into tidying and updating the volumes has paid dividends. 6.5 out of 10 for a stronger opening to the series

In Paperback @ Amazon US

In Paperback @ Amazon UK.

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