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The Saga of Larten Crepsley (1) - Birth of a…

The Saga of Larten Crepsley (1) - Birth of a Killer (original 2010; edition 2011)

by Darren Shan

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Title:The Saga of Larten Crepsley (1) - Birth of a Killer
Authors:Darren Shan
Info:HarperCollinsChildren'sBooks (2011), Paperback, 256 pages
Collections:Read - Keep, Your library

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Birth 0f A Killer by Darren Shan (2010)




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Most readers of The Book Zone will not need me to tell them that Birth of a Killer, the new book from Darren Shan, is actually a prequel to his fantastically successful Saga of Darren Shan series. One of the key characters in that series was Larten Crepsley, the vampire that first blooded Darren Shan, thus turning him into a creature of the night. Larten is a very popular character with Shan fans, and in my opinion is one of the author's greatest creations: his personality seemed so well developed, with his emphasis on the correct use of grammar when speaking, his moody, withdrawn manner and his flame orange hair (who ever heard of a vampire with ginger hair???). When I first read the original Saga I was left with many questions about the back history of this great character, and it would appear that Darren Shan felt the same.

The book opens with Larten as a young boy, working all hours loosening silk from the cocoons of silk worms in a factory with his cousin Vur Horston (a name familiar to Saga fans). Immediately we discover the reason for the bright orange hair, and inventive it is too (and no I'm not going to tell you what it is - you will have to read the book yourself). Darren Shan also does not keep us waiting long before revealing the life-changing moment in his hero's life, the moment that has him running away from home and very soon finding himself in the company of the vampire that will become his mentor and eventually blood him, Seba Nile. Birth of a Killer does not have the blood-splatter moments of the Demonata series, but it is still violent enough in places to keep fans grinning from ear to ear, and this early scene is one of those moments.

Although in familiar territory this book never seems like a reproduction of the previous series. Those stories were very much a coming-of-age story for the main character, whereas these are spaced over a much greater period of time. As such we start off with Larten as a boy, and then pretty much immediately after he has met Seba Nile we get to part two of the book, and we jump five years in time. Eight short chapters later and the narrative jumps through time again, with Larten now at the age of 30. The author set out to tell the story of a man who is over two hundred years old, in a mere four volumes, so temporal jumps in narrative like this are going to be essential for the story to be told. At times I felt that although getting older in years, Larten's character did not necessarily seem to be maturing in the same way. However, once Larten attended his first Council I realised just how immature and naive he was in vampire terms and this side of his personality made much more sense. I am still trying to decide whether I would have liked to see more of the time between when Larten meets Seba, and when he hits thirty - I think I will reserve judgement on that area until I have read the next three books in the series (the fourth due out in May 2012).

What I loved about this book was the way that Darren Shan explores the vampire world he created in more detail. These aren't your girly, romantic Twilight vampires, but neither are they at times the debonair, aristocrats of the Dracula movies. These vampires get drunk; they gamble; their personal hygiene occasionally sucks big time. At the event I went to yesterday Darren Shan explained when he created his vampire clans he had in mind the likes of the Masai, Samurai, Native Americans and the Celts - tribes of people where the male was dominant, and where you had all levels of people - from mighty warriors and hunters to beggars and thieves. This is exactly the kind of society that we see with his vampires - some wish to lord it over all and sundry, testing their physical abilities to the extreme during the Festival of Death, whilst disaffected younger vampires rebel by playing cards and drinking in a side tunnel.

If you have not yet discovered The Saga of Darren Shan then you could read this book before you read those others. However, I would recommend that you do read the original Saga first as I have. In my opinion it will be a far more rewarding experience to get to know the adult Larten first, and then discover the events and experiences that made him the vampire the fans love so much. Birth of a Killer will then have you nodding sagely to yourself as you spot a familiar name, or discover the answer to a long-wondered question (such as the whole orange haired vampire thing). ( )
  book_zone | Apr 1, 2013 |
Birth of a killer is the first book in the Saga of Larten Crepsley by Darren Shan which in turn is a prequel to the Saga of Darren Shan.

This series can be read by them selves but I would suggest that you will get more out of them if you have read the Saga of Darren Shan first, as many of the vampire customs, characters and locations will be familiar. Also there are lots of situations and small details that are alluded to in the Saga of Darren Shan that suddenly make far more sense as you read this book. I myself chose to read this book because Larten Crepsley was my favourite character from the Saga of Darren Shan and I was eager to read about his life.

This book mostly focuses on Lartens young life. The reason why he chose to leave his home and family to follow the vampire Seba Nile and become his assistant, what his life as an assistant was like, how he became friends with Hibernus Tall (which will only be relevant to you if you have read the Saga of Darren Shan) and what his first couple of years as a vampire were like.
While this book wasn’t the best of Darrens offerings it was laugh out loud funny in parts and a interesting read. It gave me a greater understanding of the characters that I had grown to love in the Saga of Darren Shan and it even offers up an explanation of why Larten often uses the name Vur Horston and why his hair is an unnatural orange colour.
My only criticism of this book would be that I would have liked it to be a little more detailed with a few less jumps. Huge chunks of Lartens life are simply skipped and some pivotal conversations and events are only mentioned, but would have been interesting to read in detail. That being said this is only one quarter of the story and with previous books I’ve noticed that adult readers get far more out of Darren’s Sagas when reading them as a whole. I will be eagerly reading the next instalment, Ocean of Blood straight away! ( )
  Amatheya81 | Apr 8, 2012 |
Birth of a Killer is the first in Shan’s new four book series The Saga of Larten Crepsley. The new series is a prequel to the Cirque du Freak series.

Tracing the early years of Larten Crepsley this first book introduces us to him as a young boy working in a silk factory with his cousin. After a terrible incident, you g Larten kills the abusive factory foreman. Forced to flee, a young, poor boy in the early 1800s has just killed his boss, Larten seeks refuge in a cemetery crypt.

Only to find it occupied.

It’s here that he meets vampire Seba Nile, already 500-years-old. Seba explains to Larten, who already believes in witches and other supernatural beings, that vampires are, in fact, real. He also explains how vampires, such as him, differ from the vampires of legend.

Readers of the Cirque du Freak series possibly already know more of what transpires after this, but for those that have not, I’m going to stop the summary there ….

While I would imagine a reader would get more out of the Larten Crepsley books if they’d already read the Cirque du Freak series (knowing some of the characters, etc), it’s more than possible to read and enjoy Birth of a Killer with no previous knowledge of the characters, world or author (I did).

Birth of a Killer covers about twenty years and has a lot of explanation of the vampire world, rules and introduces a lot of characters. There is very, very little blood or gore (or even mention of it). There is violence—usually in fisticuffs or other fighting, but it’s all very middle grade suitable.

Most of the book is really about getting to know the character and where he came from—the title of the book is not at all misleading.

It’s too early to say if this series will lead readers to Ciruqe du Freak books but I know (from being told emphatically) that lovers of the Cirque du Freak series love this series as well and are awaiting the future books.

I will have Book Two, Ocean of Blood reviewed either this week of early next week. ( )
  BookSpot | Nov 13, 2011 |
Marks Review:
I really like this book because of the vampires and humour. My favourite character is Larten Crepsley who is the main character. He meets Seba Nile, an old vampire, after he runs away from home due to the fact he killed someone else. He has bright orange hair and not completely pure blood. But neither is Seba Nile's.
So the story spins from there with him going to Cirque Du Freak and meeting Wester, a boy who becomes Seba's 2nd apprentice, alongside Larten.
Although the book has no definite plot and is more the beginning of a much longer story and this is just a single chapter it still hasa steady flow and a brilliant claffhanger for the ending.
This is the first book I read for my summer reading challenge 2011
  arkgirl1 | Aug 25, 2011 |
Author Darren Shan recognises a money spinner when he creates one - following on from the Cirque Du Freak saga with the self-titled teen-turned-vampire, Shan returns to the beginning to deliver the story of Larten Crepsley. Young Larten's childhood is suitably dramatic, and after fleeing for his life, he meets the vampire Seba Nile in a crypt and becomes his assistant. The similarities with Darren's saga are obvious, but the fun is in the details - why Mr Crepsley has orange hair and likes spiders, where his talent for prestidigitation came from, and his own trials as a vampire's assistant. His story is enjoyable, but as I suspect Mr Shan is aware, fans would read anything about Darren's short-tempered, sarcastic master! Can't wait for the rest of the series. ( )
1 vote AdonisGuilfoyle | Apr 2, 2011 |
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When Larten Crepsley awoke and yawned one grey tuesday morning, he had no idea that by midday he would have become a killer
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Before Cirque Du Freak...
Before the war with the vampaneze...
Before he was a vampire...
Larten Crepsley was a boy.

As a child laborer many centuries ago, Larten Crepsley did his job well and without complaint, until the day the foreman killed his brother as an example to the other children.

In that moment, young Larten flies into a rage that the foreman wouldn't survive. Forced on the run, he sleeps in crypts and eats cobwebs to get by. And when a vampire named Seba offers him protection and training as a vampire's assistant, Larten takes it.

This is his story.
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When his cousin is murdered at the factory where they both work as child laborers, young Larten Crepsley commits a horrific act and must live on the run until he meets a vampire named Seba Nile who offers him protection and training as a vampire's assistant.… (more)

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