The Saga of Darren Shan

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The Saga of Darren Shan
Saga of Darren Shan boxset.jpg
Boxset of book 1-6 of the Saga, published by HarperCollins.
Author Darren Shan
Country Ireland
Language English/Irish
Genre Horror, fantasy, thriller
Publisher HarperCollins Children's Books (UK)
Little Brown and Company (USA)
Published 4 January 2000 September 2006
Media type Print (hardcover and paperback)
Audiobook
ebook

The Saga of Darren Shan (known as Cirque du Freak: The Saga of Darren Shan in the US) is a young adult 12 part book series written by Darren Shan (his real name, Darren O'Shaughnessy) about the struggle of a boy who has become involved in the world of vampires. As of October 2008, the book is published in 33 countries around the world, in 30 different languages.[1] A movie based on the first three books in the series was released in theaters October 23, 2009. Harper Collins Audio have also released CD recordings of the first three books, read by Rupert Degas.

Background[edit]

Darren Shan, whose real name is Darren O'Shaughnessy, wrote and published the first book of the series, Cirque du Freak, as a side project between two adult books. Cirque du Freak received good reviews and Warner Bros. bought the movie rights in a seven figure deal[citation needed] prior to publication, though the film was never made and the film rights returned to Shan after three years.[2] Now, Universal Pictures own the movie rights and a feature film was released in theaters October 23, 2009.

Plot outline[edit]

The Saga of Darren Shan follows the story of Darren Shan, a normal human boy who is coerced by the vampire Larten Crepsley into becoming his assistant and a half-vampire.

  • In the first trilogy, known as Vampire Blood orThe Vampire's Assistant, Darren learns about and comes to accept his vampirism.
    • In Book One, Cirque du Freak (also known as Cirque du Freak: A Living Nightmare), Mr. Crepsley makes Darren a half-vampire in return for saving the life of one of Darren's best friends called Steve Leonard.
    • In Book Two, The Vampire's Assistant, Crepsley notes that Darren is quite lonely and brings him back to the freak show, where he befriends a snake-boy, Evra Von, and a human, Sam Grest.
    • In Book Three, Tunnels of Blood, Crepsley brings Darren Shan and Evra Von to his hometown, where one of the vampires' enemies, a Vampaneze named Murlough, is murdering innocent people.
  • In the second trilogy, known as Vampire Rites, Darren learns about the vampire clan and seeks their acceptance.
    • In Book Four, Vampire Mountain, Mr. Crepsley and Darren make their ascent up Vampire Mountain and learn about the rites of the vampires.
    • In Book Five, Trials of Death, Darren faces the Trials of Initiation, nicknamed Trials of Death, to gain the recognition of other vampires as one of the youngest vampire to be recruited in decades.
    • In Book Six, The Vampire Prince, Darren finds out about a traitor among them and tries to stop plans to destroy the vampire clan. He himself becomes a Vampire Prince, in this book.
  • In the third trilogy, known as Vampire War, Darren learns he may have a larger role to play in the fate of the vampires (and of the world) than he had ever thought.
    • In Book Seven, Hunters of the Dusk, the hunt for the Lord of the Vampaneze, who is destined to destroy the vampire clan, begins.
    • In Book Eight, Allies of the Night, Darren meets some of his past friends who now fit into his quest.
    • In Book Nine, Killers of the Dawn, Darren faces the Lord of the Vampaneze for the second time.
  • In the fourth trilogy, known as Vampire Destiny, Darren is forced to make some difficult decisions, finally taking his destiny into his own hands and dealing with the consequences.
    • In Book Ten, The Lake of Souls, Darren travels to an unfamiliar land to find out who his best friend, Harkat Mulds, used to be; as a "Little Person", Harkat's mind sans memories was placed into a new body after his death.
    • In Book Eleven, Lord of the Shadows, Darren finds out more about the Lord of the Shadows and gets closer to his last confrontation with the Lord of the Vampaneze.
    • Book Twelve, Sons of Destiny, Darren faces the Lord of the Vampaneze for a final fight, and learns the truth about his parentage.

Main characters[edit]

Darren Shan's vampires[edit]

The vampires in the Saga are different from the standard vampires found in popular culture. They are truly alive, can be killed by a well placed bullet as well as decapitation or piercing of the heart—and are not inherently evil. Vampires do not drink from the neck, but cut a vein of a victim, drinking small amounts of blood from the vein, and then healing it with their saliva; a breakaway group called the "vampaneze" insist on killing their victims and draining all their blood. Doing this, the "Vampaneze need to feed less often". The problem with this is, the "vampaneze" can become stronger by doing so. Draining all of a human's blood would have a vampire or vampaneze absorb part of the spirit of the human, allowing the vampire or vampaneze to see into their memories (Darren does this in The Vampire's Assistant, to save the spirit of a dying friend). Neither vampires nor vampaneze have fangs, but instead use their hard, sharp nails to cut into their prey. These nails can also be used to scale walls in a spider-like manner. Vampires do not combust when exposed to sunlight, but it will burn them easily and exposure for four or five hours will kill them. They can, however, remain active during the day (provided they remain in the shade) and are not bothered by garlic, silver, or holy objects (such as crosses and holy water). Fresh human blood is the most nutritious for vampires, but they can feed on preserved human blood or the blood of certain animals when necessary. Some animals' blood, however, is toxic to vampires. Vampires cannot reproduce; further vampires are created by blood-to-blood contact with humans, traditionally through the fingertips, but if any creature, human or animal, were to orally ingest vampire blood, it would be driven into a murderous frenzy and then die (similar to rabies). Vampires are not immortal either; they age at one-tenth the human rate (half-vampires one-fifth). This comes into play in the series when Darren meets an old girlfriend he had; now they are adults but Darren still looks about the same as he did when they first met. The oldest vampire in the series is Paris Skyle (claimed to have inspired the popular vampire folklore entity, Dracula), who was "blooded" at age two and lived for over 800 years. Vampires cast reflections and shadows but cannot be photographed due to a particular vibration of their atoms. And like in folklore, they sleep in coffins.

Vampires are stronger, tougher, and fitter than humans, and can run at a very high speed faster than the human eye can follow, a process called "flitting". Flitting causes a static charge to build up in a vampire's body, which Mr. Crepsley learned to use to force open locks. A vampire's senses are all superhuman. Their bones, fingernails, and teeth are stronger than those of humans which allows them to endure incredible amounts of physical trauma, are resistant to most chemicals and diseases, and heal quickly. A vampire's healing factor is not as effective as in most fiction, and, unlike the beautiful vampires of Anne Rice, most of Shan's vampires are heavily scarred and unattractive. More abilities include breathing an invisible gas that renders a human unconscious, telepathically communicating with other vampires and humans (three vampires could also mentally command spiders), and locating vampires and humans whose thought patterns they have learned to recognize. Vampires cannot dematerialize into a mist, nor can they transform into bats, rats, or wolves. On the other hand, these animals are friendly to vampires, although cats and dogs hate them. The blood of snakes, rats, and cats are poisonous to them.

Vampire society is ruled by honor, personal pride, and tradition. They have a strict hierarchy with higher ranking vampires having absolute rule over lower ranking ones, though they exercise their powers in moderation and are respectful of those beneath them. There are far fewer female vampires than male ones. Vampire matings last only ten or fifteen years with the couple then choosing to re-mate or go their separate ways. Vampires are forbidden to use projectile weapons like guns, bows, and crossbows as they view these as dishonorable, preferring hand-to-hand fighting with swords, axes, etc., or throwing weapons such as a shuriken; the vampaneze are forbidden from using any form of throwing weapons. Vampires live old fashion lives: no vampire is shown making references to pop culture, driving a car, or using computers. Vampires see humans as a chaotic and slightly inferior race, but most value human lives. Some vampires form friendships with humans and many fall in love with humans. Vampire Gavner Purl boasts a pair of pink underpants embroidered with elephants, a present from a former human girlfriend.

Darren Shan's vampires do not follow the religions they did as humans, but worship an unidentified pantheon. They believe that the souls of good vampires are reborn as wolves in the eternal nights of a distant world called Paradise, while evil vampire souls remain bound to the Earth for eternity. They do have gods, but there are a great number of them and they are referred to as the Vampire Gods. Vampires believe they are descended from wolves, just as humans are believed to have evolved from primates. Wolves are held as the cousins of vampires. Wolves like vampires, especially since they have a scent that means no harm to them.

Vampaneze[edit]

In The Saga of Darren Shan the Vampaneze are sworn enemies to the vampires, believing that there is honour in killing their victims and claiming their souls. They were vampires who broke away from the clan (600 years before the third book) and claimed themselves a new race (Vampaneze) because of the different customs they held. The Vampaneze are considered the antagonists, though they only appear that way due to the misleading image of Murlough (a mad Vampaneze), The Vampaneze Lord and the War of the Scars; Mr Crepsley himself noted that vampaneze had some positive traditions such as their refusal to lie and their sense of honour. The Vampaneze have purple skin and red hair, eyes, lips, and fingernails though it takes a couple of decades for this colouring to set in. This is a side effect due to drinking a lot of blood: though killing humans when draining their blood was originally a choice based on their beliefs, in the modern day Vampaneze always kill when they drink blood. Many Vampaneze do not want to fight the vampires, and though Gannen Harst has sworn to protect the Lord of Vamapaneze, Steve Leonard, in the final book Harst is shown to not stop Steve from putting himself in danger, as if he merely wants the war between Vampires and Vampaneze settled one way or the other.

The Vampaneze are first mentioned in Tunnels of Blood and become a main part of the plot throughout the rest of the series. Examples of Vampeneze include Murlough and Gannen Harst.

Death's Touch Sign[edit]

The Death's Touch Sign is a hand position used in the famous "Saga of Darren Shan" series. To do this, you place your middle finger of your right hand in the middle of your forehead, your ring finger on your left eyelid, your index finger on your right eyelid and have your pinky finger and thumb outstretched. The sign translates to, "Even in Death, may you be Triumphant." The sign is first shown in book 5 of the series, Trials of Death, when Darren must take the Trails of Initiation nicknamed the Trials of Death. Vampires throughout Vampire Mountain direct the sign to him to show that they wish him good luck. It is used by vampires throughout Vampire Mountain to show their appreciate towards a dead or no doubt "about to die" vampire.

Manga[edit]

A manga series called Cirque du Freak based on the Darren Shan novels was published in the Shogakukan anthology Shonen Sunday by Takahiro Arai in a weekly serialization. The volumes are being published in the UK and USA by HarperCollins and Yen Press respectively.[3]

Short stories[edit]

Darren Shan has released numerous short stories on his website, all of which tie into the saga.

  • "An Essay on Vampires" "by" Steve Leopard - book 1 tie-in story. The essay was written sometime before Cirque Du Freak.
  • "Annie's Diary" - Based on Darren's sister's diary during the events of Cirque Du Freak.
  • "Tiny Terrors" - Takes place during The Vampire's Assistant. It centres around the mysterious Desmond Tiny.
  • "Transylvania Trek" - a short story "written" by Sam Grest, a character from book 2.
  • "Shanta Claus" (only available at Christmas). A special story that follows Shanta Clause as he visits the homes of many characters in the series.
  • "Lonely Lefty" - A story centering around Harkat Mulds that takes place during the events of Tunnels of Blood.
  • "Bride of Sam Grest" - another short story "written" by Sam Grest, a character from book 2.
  • "An Affair of the Night" - A story centering around Gavner Purl, before his untimely death. Ties in with Trials of Death.

The Sam Grest stories have been included in the Midnight Feast collection. Sam Grest was only significant in The Vampire's Assistant.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Shanville Monthly 99(See Section titled SHAN ACROSS THE GLOBE)
  2. ^ Darren Shan/Facts: Biography
  3. ^ http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_ss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Darren+Shan+Manga&x=0&y=0

External links[edit]