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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Tough Travels with . . . Vampires

Every Thursday, Nathan (over at Fantasy Review Barn) leads the gang in touring the mystical countryside, looking for fun and adventure. His Tough Traveling feature picks one of the most common tropes in fantasy each week, as seen in The Tough Guide to Fantasyland by Diana Wynn Jones, and invites us to join in the adventure. All are invited to take part, so if you're joining the journey late, no worries . . . we'll save you a spot in the caravan.

This week’s tour topic is: VAMPIRES

VAMPIRES are increasingly rare on the TOUR.  They have been attracted over to the Horror Tour by offers of better pay.  Where they appear, you will find up to date Vampires wear expensive sunglasses and wish to drain you of energy rather than blood.

Oh yeah, it's time for some kick-ass, old-school, evil-as-hell, vampires! No sparkly pretty boys or romantic entanglements here. We're talking blood-sucking, mind-control, soul-destroying evil. I could go on forever, but let's try and keep it fantasy-focused.

Let's get right to the heart of the matter and kick things off with the vampires of Brian Lumley, as seen in his Necroscope saga & Vampire World series. It all begins with the adventures of Harry Keogh, Necroscope, who stumbles upon the Wamphyri, immortal malevolent forces of evil, driven by vampiric symbiotic leech-like parasites. This symbiotic bond bestows immense strength, telepathy, and metamorphic abilities on the host, while infecting them with an insatiable bloodlust. While Necroscope was a traditional horror saga, set in our world, the Vampire World series is more a dark fantasy saga, set on a world where humans live in a primitive fear of their monstrous masters.


Having cut my fantasy teeth on the Dragonlance novels, it's hardly a surprise that I soon graduated to the Ravenloft series of novels. These books were a perfect blend of epic fantasy and classic horror, set in a Dungeons & Dragons world of elves, halflings, dwarves, and . . . yes, vampires. Christie Golden kicked things off with Vampire of the Mists, while P.N. Elrod kicked things up a notch with I, Strahd: Memoirs of a Vampire. There were actually over 20 books in the Ravenloft series, dealing with vampires, werewolves, liches, and more, but it's the Dracula-like Strahd and vampire death-knight Lord Soth who really define the world. Long out of print, the books have found new life as e-books, so there's really no excuse for not mixing your swords, sorcery, and vampires.


From Christopher Golden we have the Shadow Saga, an urban fantasy series that's heavy on the heroics, and even heavier on the vampires. This is a series that starts off as a rather standard urban fantasy tale of secret societies and ancient evils, but then it goes crazy off-the-rails. Tons of fun, with some of the wildest climaxes you could ask for.


Heading back to the realm of traditional fantasy, Barb and J.C. Hendee bring us the saga of the Noble Dead. This is largely your typical epic fantasy saga, complete with medieval setting, but it all begins with a vampire slayer and her half-elf partner, and proceeds from there. It's a great series that reminds me a lot of Ravenloft, but for more mature readers.


Even heroic fantasy legend David Gemmel has dabbled in vampires, specifically with his Knights of Dark Renown, in which the legendary knights of the Gabala disappeared through a demon-haunted gateway, and returned as soulless vampiric monsters. This was the book that made me a Gemmel fan, with a very dark twist on his usual brand of fantasy.


Finally, we have The Diaries of the Family Dracul from Jeanne Kalogridis, which takes an epic fantasy look at the life, death, and undeath of Dracula himself. Okay, this one does have a bit of period romance to it (a la Anne Rice), but it's never sparkly or cheesy. More importantly, it also has a lot of blood, some epic battles, and tons of atmosphere.



14 comments:

  1. You dug deep this week didn't you? Gemmel is the only one I actually have heard of, and still never read.

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  2. My fave would be Kim Newman's Dracula novels

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    1. I only read the first Dracula novel from Newman, but it was a very cool sort of alt history take on the story. At some point I'll have to catch up.

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  3. The Ravenloft series was good.
    Old school - see if you can find The Light at the End of the Tunnel by Skipp and Spector.

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    1. Skipp and Spector are always great, gory fun.

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  4. Another list of which I know NONE of the books. This is my first stab at Tough Travel Thursday stuff, and damn it is turning out to be a book introducer...

    My list is here if yer interested: http://www.bookpunks.com/my-favorite-vampires/

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  5. I've not heard of any of these! Though, it looks like I'm not alone. I have read a Christopher Golden book (Snowblind) and quite enjoyed it, so I may have to check out his vampire series, especially if it is fun and goes a bit crazy/unexpected. Great list!

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  6. Barb and J.C. Hendee have written an unbelievable number of books. I often see that at work (public library) and people seem to love them. Would you recommend starting with the Noble Dead books? :)

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    1. They've certainly written a lot. The Noble Dead saga is separated into 3 different series or story arcs, with their new Mist-Torn Witches series separate, but set in the same world. Probably best to start from the beginning, but it looks like Mist-Torn Witches could be read as stand-alone.

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  7. Ooh, I read 'I, Strahd' when I was younger - it's awesome. :D

    I have Gemmell's 'Knights' on my TBR - have a sudden urge to get to it sooner rather than later now. :D

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  8. "Oh yeah, it's time for some kick-ass, old-school, evil-as-hell, vampires!"
    YES. Vampires are terrifying and grotesque, not sexy. Great post. :)

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    1. And that is precisely why I am always happy to have you stop by the Ruins. :)

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  9. I love the classic, old school, scary as hell vampire! Unfortunately I haven't read too many books featuring them...as your list proves. Gah, I have not read any of these. Though Gemmell has been on my list for a while.

    ~Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

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  10. Haha, it looks like your list is the exact opposite of mine, the manly version of the undead :) I don't read horror so all I have is the sparkly-and-muscled kind of vampires.

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