123th anniversary of Dracula
Today is the 123th anniversary of the publication of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, which drew on a long tradition of vampire folk lore, and went on to become a hugely popular trope of fiction drama and film.
I explored the ‘real’ Dracula: Vlad Tepes III in my novels The Order of Darkness. In history, Count Vlad was an extraordinary character, a warrior against the Ottoman Empire, a monster of cruelty, an astute political player, and still a hero in his native Romania. He was the son of Vlad II Dracul, ruler of Wallachia, who received his name after his induction to the Order of the Dragon – a Christian military order.
Vlad Tepes is also remembered as Vlad the Impaler after his preferred method of execution – a particularly gruesome death. His reputation for brutality began in his own lifetime, though some of the stories that have become infamous to us now – such as Vlad dining in a field of soldiers he has slain, dipping his bread in their blood before eating it – are undoubtedly exaggerated. But while his rule was undoubtedly vicious, Vlad also helped to rebuild and stabilise Wallachia despite the many years of war and upheaval the country had seen. He punished lawbreakers and anyone working against him, strengthening central government and ensuring public order.
I hope to write the fourth and final novel in the series when the mysterious Lord who commands the ‘satan seekers’ and the heroine’s ‘godfather’ Count Vlad are unmasked.
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Order of Darkness
The two young men stepped out of the front door of the inn and found the quayside now crowded with boys and girls, some of them barefoot, some of them dressed in little more than rags, all of them travel-stained and weary. Most were seated, exhausted, on the cobblestones; some of them stood looking out to sea. None were older than sixteen, some as young as six or seven, and more of them were coming in through the town gate all the time, as the gatekeeper watched in bewilderment, racking his brains for an excuse to close the gate and shut them out. - Stormbringers
The five travellers on horseback on the rutted track to Pescara made everyone turn and stare: the woman who brought them weak ale in a roadside inn; the peasant building a hewn stone wall by the side of the road; the boy trailing home from school to work in his father’s vineyard. Everyone smiled at the radiance of the couple at the front of the little cavalcade, for they were beautiful, young, and – as anyone could see – falling in love. - Stormbringers
It was the strangest sight. The girl’s hand had swung down as they lifted her; now she was quite unconscious. It seemed that she had fainted when they had pulled her from the barred gate. Her head was rolled back, the little laces from her nightcap brushing the ground as they carried her, her long nightgown trailing in the dust. - Changeling
Slowly, some hours after, the sky grew bright and the five travellers got up from where they had been sitting at the back of the boat and went to the prow to look east where the rising sun was turning the wispy clouds pink and gold with the dawn light. From the back of the boat the boatman called to them that they were entering the Lagoon of Venice, God be praised that they were safe at last after such a night, and at once they felt the movement of the ship quieten as the waves stilled. - Fools' Gold