Plot Outline:

Book 10 of The Saga Of Darren Shan. It's time for Harkat to learn the truth about who he used to be ...

To unlock the mysteries of his past, he and Darren must place themselves in the hands of Mr Tiny and leave the world of humanity behind. Can they survive in a place of savage killer animals, monstrous mutants, and fiery winged beasts of lore? And even if they do, will they unravel the riddle of Harkat's identity before they are destroyed?

Find out by taking a dip in The Lake Of Souls, the first book of the "Destiny Trilogy", the final, shocking story-arc of The Saga of Darren Shan!

Author Notes:

Book 10 of The Saga Of Darren Shan went on sale on the 6th of October 2003 in the UK and Ireland. Interest in the series had been growing strongly throughout 2003, and the book cracked the top 10 of the UK children's bestsellers chart, peaking at #6, which was very respectable given that it was contending with children's annuals that came out around the same time. In Ireland it again got to #1.

I knew this book would divide readers. It was a break into total fantasy, and I knew that people who don't like fantasy books might not like it. But this was where the story needed to go at that point. It does stand alone as an oddity, the only book in the series that isn't set in the modern world. That wouldn't have been the case if I had gone on past book 12 and taken the action of the main storyline into the future, as I intended to at the time when when I wrote the first draft of Lake Of Souls. It does stand alone as an oddity. If I ever go on to do a follow-up series set in the future, this issue will be resolved -- but as things currently stand, that's a shortcoming that I have to admit to.

That said, it's not quite as stand alone as it might appear. And it's not just about finding out who Harkat used to be. (And the VAST majority of readers didn't know who he was -- I was pleased that the twist worked, and remained a secret from most of my fans until they read this book.)

Primarily this was a book about showing Darren being able to survive on his own. I wanted an action-packed book to show how he'd developed and toughened. He couldn't have survived in this world if he'd gone there earlier in the series. Now he's almost a full vampire, he's strong and mentally tough, and able to take on just about anything. It also cemented the friendship between Darren and Harkat, which became more important now that they were alone.

The book shows us what the world of the future was destined to be like. Of course I could have done this in a few pages, just had Darren have a dream or vision, but I don't think that would have driven the point home, or given Darren a strong enough reason to fight against it. Because he personally experienced the wasteworld of the future in this book, it gave him more of a reason to fight to prevent it in books 11 and 12.

Speaking of destiny ... a point that some readers missed is that the book is DELIBERATELY game-like -- because it had all been set up by Mr Tiny! He was pulling the strings here more than ever before. Yes, the panther, giant toad and Grotesque were unbelievable, ridiculous foes -- but that's because Mr Tiny chose them. And a net had to be used to fish for the dead because that's something that would tickle the wellied one's fancy. This is Mr Tiny's world, so his warped sense of humour shines through. You shouldn't read this book too seriously -- you're supposed to have a bit of a chuckle at these creatures!

The same goes for Spits Abrams. Mr Tiny placed him in this world, which is why he's a drunk, foolish, piratical cannibal. He's not a REAL, developed character. He wasn't meant to be. Mr Tiny wouldn't have chosen him if he was. (Having said that, Spits is one of my personal favourite characters. I always chuckle when I read his lines. Yes, he's a ludicrous walking cliche, but he hits MY funny-bone just right!) (p.s. Make sure you look carefully for a young Master Abrams when you read the Saga Of Mr Crepsley books!)

I'd developed characters very carefully in all the other books of the series -- compare Murlough to Spits, for example. The reason I "went off the rails" in this one was because I wanted to have some over the top fun as seen through the eyes of Des Tiny. Yes, I had serious points to make, and I had to set up the very serious business of the next couple of books -- but this one was never meant to be taken too seriously (apart from the first few chapters). Killing Mr Crespley in book 9 took the series to a very dark place, and I knew it would get even darker in book 11 -- this was my chance to let readers catch their breath and have a bit of a giggle before the action heated up again and everything went to hell.

Originally book 10 was going to be 2 books. In the end I decided to streamline it and just make one book out of it.

A point some readers seemed to miss is that this is a post-nuclear world. The backdrop to it was that the War of the Scars would spin out of control, and nuclear and chemical warfare would result, almost wiping out mankind.

If I'd gone beyond 12 books, as I'd originally intended -- or if I write a follow-up series in the future -- the Kulashkas would have returned, along with the dragons. And we'd have seen that the world isn't entirely desolate -- there WERE survivors, and a semblance of society, ruled over by the Lord of the Shadows. Maybe I'll return to that world one day and tell the story about those survivors and their despotic Lord -- but don't hold your breath!

Global Cover Variations

  • Book Cover Image The Lake of Souls (Czech Republic HB)
  • Book Cover Image The Lake of Souls (Germany PB)
  • Book Cover Image The Lake of Souls (USA PB)
  • Book Cover Image The Lake of Souls (Japan PB)
  • Book Cover Image Skrekkens Sirkus 4 (Norway)
  • View full covers gallery

    From the Gallery
  • Stone the crows!!!!

    from Darren's Blog on 11 April 2024

    When I announced late last year that I was working on my first ever picture book, The Terrified...

    Read full entry
  • TOUR details - see Shanville Monthly

    from Events on 06 August 2017

    Read full entry
  • From Twitter: