Plot Outline:

Book 4 of The Saga Of Darren Shan. Six years have passed since Tunnels Of Blood. Darren has settled into life as a vampire's assistant, and feels at home in the Cirque Du Freak. But now he must leave the freak show and his friends behind, to travel to the distant Vampire Mountain with Mr Crepsley, where he must be presented for approval to the Vampire Princes and Generals.

Travelling with Darren and Mr Crepsley are two Little People, and they're later joined by an old friend and some four-legged predators. The trek to Vampire Mountain is long and dangerous, and blood will be spilt along the way. The vampires also make a worrying discovery -- they are not the only creatures of the night on the path to the mountain ...

Inside Vampire Mountain, Darren learns much of vampires, their history and ways. He's introduced to many fierce, battle-scarred Generals. Some accept him instantly -- but he must earn the friendship of others! When he's taken to meet the legendary Princes, he learns the true price of what it takes to become a vampire ...

Vampire Mountain is the start of a gruelling, 3-part Darren Shan adventure. The story continues in Book 5:Trials Of Death, and concludes in Book 6:The Vampire Prince.

Author Notes:

The fourth book of The Saga Of Darren Shan was released in the UK and Ireland on June 4th 2001. This was the first time I'd broken a longer story arc up across a number of books (three, in this case) and we weren't sure how fans would react -- would they enjoy the cliffhanger and wait for the next installments with bated breath as I hoped, or would they feel cheated? While some fans certainly didn't like the fact that the Vampire Mountain story was split up into three books, most were happy with it as it was presented, and it's a tactic I've used many times since then. (I occasionally get accused of doing this to create more books and thus more revenue, but that honestly never crosses my mind -- all I'm ever interested in is delivering a story in the best possible format for absorption, and when it comes to a younger audience, I think that huge books can be a turn-off, hence the desire to break them up.)

I was a bit nervous about the lack of action in Vampire Mountain. This was an important book in the series, in that it gave us an insight into the society of vampires, and it had to answer lots of questions and explain the basic vampiric setup. At the same time, I didn't want it to be complete exposition -- I wanted fans to be able to enjoy it as well as learn from it. I wasn't sure if the book had achieved that, but it met with a warm response, and continues to be one of the fan favourites all these years later -- it's often the one that people pick or a message when they come to me to get their books signed.

Book 4 was originally titled Halls Of Vampire Mountain. Later I decided to shorten it for more effect. And Harkat in the first draft of this book (and 5 and 6) was originally called Harvey. My plan, back when I was planning this trilogy and looking ahead to the rest of the series, was for Harkat to have been EVRA in his previous life. (Take away the H and Y from Harvey and reverse the letters -- tah-dah!) At that stage I meant for Evra to travel to Vampire Mountain with Darren and Mr Crepsley, and to be with Darren and Harkat in every book right up until The Lake Of Souls, when he would have died (having realized at the very end that he was actually Harvey).

But when I sat down to write book 4, I realized there was no real reason for Evra to travel with Darren -- unlike Darren, Evra had grown up and had other, more normal things to occupy his thoughts (such as marriage!). In terms of the storyline, it made no sense for him to leave his home and go off to a mountain full of vampires. He would have simply been there because I wanted him to be. And so, regretfully, I had to relegate him down the list of important cast members. And then I had to go looking for another candidate to fill the shoes of the to-be-renamed Little Person... one who was friends with Darren... who died during the series... who had a genuine reason to come back to life as a Little Person and help Darren and the entire vampire clan...

Arra was an interesting character, who took on far more of an important role than I had imagined when I first came up with her. I wanted Darren to meet a female vampire, so that the question of why there are so few women vampires could be naturally raised. (Answer -- because the clan is packed with very old male chauvinists!) I had no plans to develop the character beyond that, but Miss Sails had other ideas, and when I began writing, she grew and grew, to become one of the key characters of the story arc.

Heh. Writing about the scarcity of female vampires reminds me of something else. I took a very anthropological approach to the vampire clan. I loosely based the clan on real warrior tribes of the past and present, like the Celts, the Samurai, the Masai Mara, and then tried to imagine how such a society would evolve if the members lived for hundreds of years. Because vampires don't mix much with humans, and since there were so few women among their ranks, it made sense to me that homosexuality would be quite common in the clan, as it was among many tight-knit groups of soldiers in the past (the ancient Romans, Greeks, Spartans, etc). I was going to mention this in Vampire Mountain -- I even had the idea that there would be little "love caves" where the guys could go to get away from the hustle and bustle for a while -- but I knew my publishers would hit the roof and demand it be written out, as they work themselves up into a state if I include any kind of sexual references, be they heterosexual or homosexual or anywhere between, so I reined in my anthropological observations and kept quiet.

Hmmm... "Vampire Love Caves." Maybe I'll pass that idea on to E L James for her next book!!! "Mister Grey... meet Master March!!!!!" :-)

Global Cover Variations

  • Book Cover Image Vampire Mountain (Canada)
  • Book Cover Image Vampire Mountain (Finland PB)
  • Book Cover Image Vampire Mountain (Czech Republic PB)
  • Book Cover Image Vampire Mountain (Italy)
  • Book Cover Image Vampire Mountain (USA Manga)
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