Baltimore, or, The Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire
|Baltimore, or, The Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire|
Illustrated novel cover
|Date||August 28, 2007|
- 1 Pilot
- 2 Publication
- 3 Comics
- 4 Film adaptation
- 5 References
- 6 Further reading
- 7 External links
Each chapter begins with a quote from Hans Christian Andersen's, "The Steadfast Tin Soldier." In the original book, years were stylized as "19__". When the series was expanded in comic form, the dates were specified.
Captain Henry Baltimore leads a night attack across the No Man's Land of a battlefield in the Ardennes Forest. His entire battalion is killed by Hessian fire. Baltimore's leg is wounded, and he is left for dead. He awakes some hours later to see giant bat-like creatures feeding on his dead men. When one attempts to feed on him, he slashes at it with his bayonet, slicing its face. The giant creature in return wounds Baltimore, infesting his leg with unnatural gangrene. Baltimore is saved when the bat-like creatures flee the light of dawn.
November 30, 1919
Captain Demetrius Aischros travels to a London pub, The Ugly Muse, to meet Lord Baltimore. Instead he finds Thomas Childress Jr. and Dr. Lemuel Rose. These men are also waiting for Baltimore. While they wait, Dr. Rose decides to tell the others how he met Baltimore.
The Surgeon's Tale: Offertorio
Dr. Rose was a surgeon in the Great War, and one of his patients was Lord Baltimore. He amputated Baltimore's leg following the failed mission in the Ardennes.
While recovering in Hospital, Baltimore was visited by a man with a deep scar on his face and missing his right eye. Baltimore instinctively knew this man was the same creature he'd wounded in battle. (In the novel the vampire is never named, but in the comics he is known as Haigus.) Haigus informs Baltimore that when he cut his face, he stirred up the vampires and declared a war between them and humanity.
In the morning, Baltimore noticed wounded soldiers with grey skin and dead eyes, the first to be infected by a plague from the Vampires.
1919 — The Ugly Muse
Dr. Rose's companions ask the doctor why he believed Lord Baltimore. Dr. Rose recounts an encounter he had in the Fall of 1914 with a shapeshifting bear. The event changed the way he saw the world, and so he believed Baltimore.
The Sailor's Tale: Sanctus
Captain Aischros then recounts his own encounters with Lord Baltimore.
Aischros was the captain of the boat that transported Baltimore to London. The two became friends on the journey and Aischros agreed to assist Baltimore on his way home to Trevelyan Island on the Cornish Coast. While in London, Baltimore has a masterfully crafted, hinged wooden leg made. He and Aischros noticed the plague spreading.
When Baltimore arrived home, he learned that his entire family except his wife, Elowen, had been claimed by the plague. Baltimore collapsed upon hearing this and fell into a delirious fever.
Aischros returned to Travelyan Island. There he met a mysterious monk. The monk explained that when Baltimore finally recovered from his fever, Haigus had visited the island and murdered Elowen. After the funeral, Elowen rose again as a vampire and Baltimore was forced to kill her. Afterward, Baltimore had been in a state of despair, searching for his wife's wedding ring, when he was visited by the monk. The monk related a vision he had experienced months before, of a towering red figure standing in front of a bleeding sunset, holding a golden scepter in its right hand, a wooden coffin in its left, and its head wreathed in a crown of flame. The monk believed the vision was premonition of the evil that was coming, and had told Baltimore that God used Baltimore's pain and suffering to forge him into a weapon against it. Baltimore then left to hunt down the residents of Trevelyan that had become revenant vampires and escaped to the mainland.
1919 — The Ugly Muse
Aischros's companions ask the captain why he believed Baltimore and the monk. Aischros recounts an encounter he had in his youth in Cicagne, an Italian town haunted by supernatural puppets carved from a tree that had grown in a cemetery for criminals and suicides.
The Soldier's Tale: Agnus Dei
Childress then recounts his own history with Lord Baltimore, how they had both grown up together on Trevelyan Island. Then he tells them about the last time he saw Lord Baltimore.
December, 1915 (In the novel this was roughly a year and a half after Elowen's death. The timeline was changed for the comics.)
The Great War had come to an early end as the plague swept Europe. Childress had returned home to Travelyan Island where he learned that most residents there had been claimed by the plague. One night the Baltimore estate went up in flames. Childress went to investigate. He found Baltimore, now with his head shaved. Baltimore explained that he was burning all those that had become vampires, including his family. Childress sensed some manner of supernatural change in Baltimore, as though his friend's heart and soul had died, yet still he continued to live.
1919 — The Ugly Muse
Childress's companions ask him why he believed Baltimore's story about vampires. Childress recounts a story from a visit to Chile when he was twenty-one, about a village lake that had been haunted by a demon.
The Savior's Tale: Benedictus
While Dr. Rose, Captain Aischros, and Mr. Childress wait for Baltimore, a courier delivers to them a journal written by Lord Baltimore. The three read the volume, which details Baltimore's encounter with a vampire called Reveka in Korzha, Romania, in June 1919. The last entry in the journal leaves Baltimore's fate uncertain.
Crescendo: Lux et Aeternum
A letter that came with the journal (from a man called Iancu Vulpes) explains that after the encounter with Reveka, Baltimore had found a kind of peace. It is implied that Baltimore had discovered where Haigus would be on a specified date.
Dr. Rose, Captain Aischros, and Mr. Childress decide to stay the night at The Ugly Muse, but there are no rooms left. An artist called Bentley offers them a place to sleep in his studio. The three men follow Bentley to his studio, which has been transformed into a chapel of bones with a macabre painting sitting upon an easel in the center of the room and illuminated by moonlight from a skylight above. Initially each of the three men perceive the painting differently, seeing their own personal horror--Dr. Rose sees the demonic bear, Captain Aischros sees a giant puppet, and Mr. Childress sees the monster from the lake in Chile. This lasts just for a moment, and for all three the painting quickly resolves into its true form--a towering red figure standing in front of a bleeding sunset wreathed in flame. They realize it is a painting of the monk's vision, a portrait of the Red King. They soon discover Haigus waits for them inside.
Haigus has become old and weary from all the years of being pursued by Baltimore. Haigus plans to kill Baltimore's friends to draw him out and finish their feud once and for all. The three companions are attacked by skeletons, but despite desperate fighting (including by Dr. Rose who sets the room on fire) it quickly becomes clear that the three are ill-equipped to fend off the supernatural forces arrayed against them. Just as they're cornered and all seems lost, Lord Baltimore arrives.
Finale: Libera Me
Lord Baltimore easily cuts down the skeleton-wraiths and confronts Haigus. He demands answers, asking why vampires have returned to plague humanity. Haigus responds that it was not the vampires' choice; rather, he says it was the violence and death of the Great War that called them back from their slumber, and that humanity would never be rid of them now. Baltimore kills Haigus, but afterward he is horrified to discover that he feels nothing. He thought killing Haigus would release him from his torment, but instead he feels numb. In anger and frustration, Baltimore slashes the painting of the Red King that had somehow remained untouched in the center of the room despite the intense fighting and roaring flames. Instantly, the room is filled with a preternatural cold, snuffing out the fire completely. Baltimore and his three companions suddenly feel as though an immense presence has filled the room, and the Red King in the painting fixes its eyes upon Baltimore. He realizes that all this time he had been fighting the symptom, and the true enemy had barely been aware of him until that very moment when he defaced its likeness. The moment then passes as quickly as it came; the presence leaves the room and the painting becomes just a painting again. The four men leave the studio, discovering on the way that the artist, Bentley, has cut his own throat with a shard of glass.
Baltimore and his three companions go downstairs to the bar to tend their wounds and drink. Baltimore explains bitterly that his fight is not over, that it will never be over, and that he understands what he has been made into. Then Baltimore reaches into his chest and pulls out his heart, which has become a lump of tin with his wife's wedding ring set in its side.
Mike Mignola came up with the concept for Baltimore, or, The Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire and conceived much of the plot, though Christopher Golden penned the novel based on their joint efforts.
In 2010 Dark Horse Comics began a comic book series set in the middle of the novel in the years when Lord Baltimore was hunting Haigus. It is written by both Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden with Ben Stenbeck on art duties.
New Regency optioned the rights to adapt Baltimore as a film in September 2007. The novel's authors wrote a screenplay, while David S. Goyer was set to direct. After a leadership change at New Regency, the studio abandoned the project, and the rights have reverted to the authors.
- Mignola, Mike; Christopher Golden (August 2007). Baltimore, or, The Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire (Hardcover). Spectra. ISBN 0-553-80471-5.