epinions.com | 20 July 2005 | ???
Darren Shan Challenges The Vampire Princes Deep Within The "Vampire Mountain" Jul 20 '05 (Updated Aug 08 '05)Author's Product Rating Product Rating: 5.0Pros Great continuation of the Shan saga, descriptive, great for teen fans of dark fiction.Cons Minor grammatical errors.The Bottom Line Darren Shan sets out to complete the journey to Vampire Mountain only to find that the biggest test still awaits him within the hallowed walls. Full Review As I mentioned in previous reviews of the Cirque Du Freak series, I got hooked on them when a friend sent me The Vampire’s Assistant, the second in the series. After that I was hooked on them and felt compelled to read them all. I was under the assumption that there were only five or six of them and when I discovered that there were ten total I was more than enthused that the series didn’t end with so many unanswered questions. These books are classified as “teen fiction” and while the story lines may seem farfetched to some people most of the events and scenarios are reality based. Shan really puts a nice spin on the whole ‘vampire allure’ that propagates in movies and seems to romanticize the lifestyle. There’s no neck biting or shape shifting from human form to bat.Cirque Du Freak - Vampire MountainWhen we rejoin Shan and Crepsley they are leaving the Cirque to journey to Vampire Mountain; a dark and mysterious place that Shan knows little about. His best friend Evra Von can’t make the trek with him because of the cold weather that they are sure to encounter. All Shan knows about Vampire Mountain is that it is the place where the vampire Generals and Princes hold council every twelve years and that he and Crepsley would have to appear in front of them, the elder having to explain why the blooded a child turning him into a half vampire. While Crepsley was still asleep Mr. Tiny, the keeper of the Little People, arrived and said that before the pair departed he wanted to speak to Larten. This is when Mr. Tiny announces that he is sending two of his minions with them to act as guardians but it isn’t until later that they discover the true reason behind this. Angered by this Crepsley denied needing escorts but eventually gave up when Mr. Tiny refused to budge on the situation.The road to Vampire Mountain was cruel and unforgiving; thick patches of thorns littered the way, the weather was harsh in some spots and there were more than a few unexpected events to throw them off their time table. Darren gave up keeping track of the time they spent on the road and when they were joined by Gavner Purl things only seemed to get worse. The discovery of a dead vampire, a rapid bear infected by a mad vampaneze as well as the buried body of a vampaneze weighed heavy on all three. Shan’s only break from this was when he had a chance encounter with a wolf; he was unsure what the beasts intentions were until it allowed his pack to come to the stream and drink. After that they were constant traveling companions and protected young Master Shan when he faced off against the rabid bear. This element of interaction between the two species really adds to the overall appeal of the story and the descriptive terms used help to paint a very vivid picture of the scene for the reader..Once they reach the inside of Vampire Mountain Shan has a hard time dealing with things; he was imagining something more luxurious when what he finds is moss covered floors, torch lit rooms and some very strange humans lurking about. This is something that you don’t learn more about until you get into the other books in the series. Shan, the author, does a fantastic job at describing the various rooms and halls within the mountain; by the time Shan and Crepsley are summoned to the Hall of Princes you can almost close your eyes and picture what the inside of the mountain looks like. Shan thought that getting to the vampire lair was an ordeal but that was childsplay; what awaited him inside the most revered room was something bigger than he ever imagined. He would have to prove himself to the council, Generals and Princes - to prove that he was not only strong enough but smart enough to endure “The Trials”. The book leaves you hanging as to the exact details of the events but you are given a teaser on the last few pages, the perfect set up to get you hooked into reading the next installment, “Trials of Death”.My Two CentsYou get to learn more about the vampire ways; things like how they interact with certain animals, their deep sense of pride and honor, traditions and internal laws. One part of the book that I really enjoyed was when Lefty, one of the Little People, came to the rescue of Shan. Until this point in the series you don’t really know much about them, where they came from or what they looked like under their blue robes. While not all is given away about these mysterious little creatures - enough is mentioned that it really makes you want to continue on with the series to find out more. The bond between Crepsley and Shan is growing stronger; both are starting to see other sides of each other - some good and some bad. Shan has a little more freedom in this book; even though he’s aged eight years since he was blooded he still looks almost the same since he only ages at one fifth the rate of mortals. He proves to be strong willed, stubborn and determined - all the qualities needed by a vampire to survive in a world that is less than tolerant of his kind.The SeriesThe series spans twelve impressive books so far, it is unclear if there will be more added. Since I started with the second book instead of the first I had to fill in the blanks while reading it but it was easy enough to accomplish thanks to Shan’s brief intro / recap of things that had happened to him. This is a great series for teens who are into dark comics or books about vampires but that doesn’t mean that adults won’t enjoy them. It usually takes me less than two hours to get through one of these and I am literally glued to it from start to finish.The Bottom LineAbout the only negative I have about this book is rather trivial and something that I didn’t pick up on until this installment in the series. On more than a few occasions the author says, “Mr. Crepsley and me” or “Kurda and me” instead of using ‘proper’ English and saying, “Mr. Crepsley and I” or “Kurda and I”. I looked back over the previous three books and this formatting was never used. Maybe it was something that was added to reflect the young age of the half vampire, maybe it was an oversight - what ever it was - it really bugged me and I felt that it set a bad precedence in the grammar department. Outside of that, this was a good read and gives are darker tone to the saga of Darren Shan. You get to learn more about the Little People, Larten Crepsley and the Vampire Generals as well as a very descriptive view of the inside of Vampire Mountain and how it was created some fourteen hundred years ago. The little tidbits of information about Mr. Tiny added a lot of mystery to the story and over the next few books you learn more about him and his seemingly unendless powers.
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