The Priest of Blood (Vampyricon Series #1)

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Overview

From Douglas Clegg, award-winning author of Afterlife and The Hour Before Dark, comes his first-ever fantasy novel, dealing with the dark edge of a fantastic medieval world. The Priest of Blood is the first novel of The Vampyricon, a saga of sword and sorcery -- and vampyres.

Born the son of a woman thought to be a witch, Aleric does not know who fathered him. From his grandfather he learned the skill that will change his life. With that ...
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Overview

From Douglas Clegg, award-winning author of Afterlife and The Hour Before Dark, comes his first-ever fantasy novel, dealing with the dark edge of a fantastic medieval world. The Priest of Blood is the first novel of The Vampyricon, a saga of sword and sorcery -- and vampyres.

Born the son of a woman thought to be a witch, Aleric does not know who fathered him. From his grandfather he learned the skill that will change his life. With that training -- and his own ability to communicate with the great predator birds of the forest -- Aleric is taken into service by the Baron and put in charge of his falcons.

Now called Falconer, he rises fast and far. Still, to those at court, he remains the bastard son of a peasant whore. And when his forbidden love for the Baron's daughter is discovered, his punishment is swift and severe. Beaten and brutalized, he is forcibly conscripted as a soldier and banished to the Holy Land to fight the Saracen infidels. Amidst the horror and chaos of the ongoing struggle, he becomes a mighty warrior -- and a man without faith or conscience.

Then, in an ancient ruined city, he finds a new love. She calls herself Pythia -- and in her passionate, bloody embrace, he also finds his destiny...

Set in a medieval world of ancient forests and buried kingdoms, of gods and monsters, of love that crosses centuries, and vengeance beyond lifetimes, The Priest of Blood is the tale of Aleric, Falconer, of his quest for his beloved, and for the legendary priest-king within whose tomb the secrets of the ancient, immortal race of vampyres reside.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Douglas Clegg's The Priest of Blood, the first installment in his much-anticipated Vampyricon saga, is an intense and grisly dark fantasy, set in the 12th century, that rivals Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles and Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's Saint-Germain sequence in both sheer narrative scope and unbridled, violent eroticism.

Aleric Atheffelde is the son of an impoverished woman who was forced to prostitute herself to feed her children. His life in the woodlands of medieval Brittany is changed forever when he is hired on by a local baron to serve the hunt and train falcons. His talent with birds of prey offers Aleric a respite from the destitution and brutality around him -- that is, until his mother is arrested and executed for consorting with the Devil. Exiled to the Holy Land to fight -- and die -- in the wars, Aleric finds himself in a distant outpost face-to-face with a beautiful, demonic seductress who becomes his mother, his lover, his savior, and his murderer. When Aleric rises from his grave as one of the blood-drinking undead, he awakens into a shadowy realm of nightmarish legend: a world where he could be the prophesied messiah destined to return dominion to those of his kind…

Since the publication of Bram Stoker's Dracula in 1897, the vampire theme has been extensively explored and revised in literally thousands of short stories and novels; but in The Priest of Blood, Clegg completely reconstructs the legend of vampires from the ground up, creating a complex, ancient history with its own arcane and sadistic mythos. If The Priest of Blood is any indication, Clegg's Vampyricon saga will be a blood-sucking masterpiece of truly epic proportions: Two fangs up! Paul Goat Allen

Publishers Weekly
The stunning first volume of a new dark fantasy epic from Stoker-winner Clegg (Nightmare House) gives the iconic vampire a massive makeover and draws fresh possibilities from its most familiar aspects. Aleric Atheffelde, a low-born medieval Breton boy with a strange knack for training birds, gets snared while serving as an unwilling soldier in the Holy Land by arch-vampiress Pythia, who through a kiss inadvertently sparks a vision in him of his regal vampire destiny. From the moment of Aleric's conversion, the tale detours sharply from the well-plowed terrain of conventional vampire costume dramas into an undiscovered country entirely the author's own. Aleric and his new vampire tribe travel to the legendary vampire necropolis of Alkemara, a marvel of gothic creepiness. There they encounter the legendary Priest of Blood, who supplies an intricate and mesmerizing view of vampire culture and projects a tragic future whose outcome hinges on Aleric. This rich and symbol-laden blend of myth and history makes intense reading while it lays a solid foundation for later books in the series. Agent, Simon Lipskar at Writers House. (Oct.) **Starred Review**
Publishers Weekly
The stunning first volume of a new dark fantasy epic from Stoker-winner Clegg (Nightmare House) gives the iconic vampire a massive makeover and draws fresh possibilities from its most familiar aspects. Aleric Atheffelde, a low-born medieval Breton boy with a strange knack for training birds, gets snared while serving as an unwilling soldier in the Holy Land by arch-vampiress Pythia, who through a kiss inadvertently sparks a vision in him of his regal vampire destiny. From the moment of Aleric's conversion, the tale detours sharply from the well-plowed terrain of conventional vampire costume dramas into an undiscovered country entirely the author's own. Aleric and his new vampire tribe travel to the legendary vampire necropolis of Alkemara, a marvel of gothic creepiness. There they encounter the legendary Priest of Blood, who supplies an intricate and mesmerizing view of vampire culture and projects a tragic future whose outcome hinges on Aleric. This rich and symbol-laden blend of myth and history makes intense reading while it lays a solid foundation for later books in the series. Agent, Simon Lipskar at Writers House. (Oct.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Born a bastard child of an unknown father, Aleric finds a place as the Baron's falconer owing to his uncanny ability to communicate with birds of prey. When a forbidden love comes to light, Aleric is forced to join a Crusade to the Holy Land. There he meets the woman known as Pythia, whose fatal kiss curses him with the thirst for blood and sets him on the road to destiny. Clegg's series opener features a vampiric hero whose beginnings in the Middle Ages marks him as a warrior. Action and adventure combine with traditional vampire fiction to create a book that will appeal to fans of vampires and historical fantasy. For most libraries. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The opening of a historical fantasy series with a vampire as protagonist. Clegg (The Machinery of Knight, 2005, etc.) begins his story in the era of the Crusades; the opening chapters take place in Brittany, the protagonist's birthplace. The bastard son of a peasant woman who ekes out a living as a prostitute, Aleric grows up in the forest, tutored by his grandfather to know the ways of birds. This skill gains him a place in the baron's entourage as a falconer-a title that replaces his given name. Life in the castle exposes Falconer to new dangers, including bullying from another young servant and harsh discipline from the huntsman, his immediate superior. But it is also a huge step up in the world, and allows him to give some measure of support to his mother and her ever-growing brood. Two events precipitate his fall from this state of relative prosperity: an affair with the baron's beautiful daughter, and the arrest of Falconer's mother for witchcraft. Attempting to parlay the daughter's favor into a pardon for his mother, Falconer oversteps and is sold into slavery as a foot soldier in the crusades. After many battles, he enters a ruined city inhabited by a vampire, and becomes one of the undead, at which point the real action begins. Clegg invests his vampires with a long mythological history, in which Falconer finds himself a central figure: the long-awaited messiah-like figure of the vampires. In fulfillment of the prophecies, Falconer and his vampire companions undertake an arduous (and suitably bloody) quest through a vividly drawn fantastic landscape. Meanwhile, back in Brittany, we learn that Falconer's beloved, now a nun, has been seduced into the service of the evil forcesagainst which Falconer and his vampires are aligned. The conclusion sets the stage for further struggles. Well-paced fantasy adventure, and not just for hardcore vampire fans.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780441013272
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 10/4/2005
  • Series: Vampyricon Series , #1
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.34 (w) x 9.16 (h) x 1.14 (d)

Interviews & Essays

Explorations Interview with Douglas Clegg

Paul Goat Allen: Doug, you're mainly regarded as a writer of modern horror and suspense thrillers, what was the motivation to write a historical vampire saga?

Douglas Clegg: History and mythology have always fascinated me since the time, at age 11, when I climbed up the Pyramid of the Sun in Mexico and felt the power of an ancient world. I grew up reading world mythology, almost as a secret love. Then, in my 20s, I lived in France and slept for several nights in one of the oldest forests in western Europe -- in Brittany. This inspired The Priest of Blood, which I began writing several years later. Then I spent nearly a decade researching the medieval era, learning swordplay, reading accounts of the Crusades, really digging into the 12th and 13th centuries as a place of life -- and shadows. I wanted vampires who echo harpies and gorgons -- mythological creatures of beauty and terror -- and so it began. And I wanted to write about life in a way I hadn't been able to with contemporary fiction. I wanted to write a novel of spectacle and wonder and heroism and create battles on the page that would take a reader's breath away -- and a sense of the greatness of existence within the novel.

PGA: How is your Vampyricon saga different from other bestselling vampire series like Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles and Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's Saint-Germain novels?

DC: I think Aleric, the Falconer, and the vampyres of the novel are very different in that they are a lost tribe of sorts, and of course my setting is not Paris or San Francisco or New Orleans, but a journey across the Continent -- from the ancient forest in Brittany to battles in the Holy Land -- and a quest into a buried kingdom where a vital secret of the source of all vampyrism lies. In some respects, the novel may have more in common with high fantasy or even [Elizabeth Kostova's] The Historian. Having said that, I've enjoyed Rice and Yarbro's fiction a great deal, and I can only hope that readers take to and love Aleric and his world as much as they've loved Rice and Yarbro.

PGA: I read on your web site that The Priest of Blood was a “personal story” for you. How so?

DC: The Priest of Blood came from three things -- first, my travels around the world, where I saw the intersection of an ancient, buried culture with the modern culture that had essentially buried it. At 11, it was in Mexico; at 16, I saw this in Spain; and then in my late teens, in Great Britain, and in my early 20s, in France and Germany. All my life, here in North America, as well. I responded on a very personal level to this -- and it also makes the world a bit of a treasure hunt. I'm an amateur mythologist and an enthusiast of archaeology and anthropology, so these loves came together in reinventing the medieval world and the cultures that contributed to it. Next, my parents both died within a year of each other, after illnesses that were devastating. This drove me into the world of The Vampyricon -- a world where life is both brutal and fantastic and where a hero could arise to combat shadows, even while existing in them. All my childhood loves came back to me after my mother and father died -- all the things I'd cherished: the storytelling; the world mythologies we discussed; the way my parents, taking us kids on travels or sending us on our own, opened my eyes to the greater world out there. Although I began writing this saga in the early 1990s, it would not have been finished if I didn't have those years when I wanted to escape into this other world -- the world of Alkemara and The Vampyricon. And finally, of course, that special time in my early 20s in that forest, which I call the Great Forest in The Priest of Blood.

PGA: What's next in the Vampyricon saga? And how many novels are you projecting this series to include?

DC: The next Vampyricon novel is tentatively titled Lady of Serpents and should be out in the fall of 2006. I really hate saying much about it because I'm still finishing it at the moment, and I tend to keep this stuff under wraps while I'm working on it. Right now, I know how the first three novels will mainly play out, and if I write the third and know the next one, the series will continue. I like to take the writing of a novel one at a time, because it means I pour everything I've got into it and really focus on its world. The world within The Priest of Blood is one of the richest I've ever created. I love living within it -- and I hope readers will as well.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 23 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 26 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 16, 2011

    A good read

    While I wasn't transported, I was entertained. I did find myself losing patience with the pace of this story. I found myself skipping chunks of text that dealt with old legends in order to get to the action portion of the book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2009

    Interesting novel

    A lot of historical references to ancient civilizations

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 20, 2005

    No Longer 'Up & Coming'....Clegg has ARRIVED

    WOW! Couldn't put it down and after reading I had to remind myself to take a breath. Sort of like when you finish watching a movie that has so enthralled you that when it is over you have to re-acqauint yourself with the actual world around you before you can stand up and leave the theatre. I started reading Douglas Clegg's stories a few years ago when in passing I read a comment from Stephen King endorsing Clegg's abilities as a novelist. Now I look forward to announcements of new encounters of Clegg's creativity to add to my collection - and Priest of Blood is a MUST for any reader or collection.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 18, 2005

    Douglas Clegg has done it again.

    Douglas Clegg has shown what we his devoted readers already know. Priest of Blood is a best seller. Doug shows his amazing skills as a writer, that he can go from horror to a new genre and not loose readers that normally don't do 'Midevil Vamps'. Priest of Blood is a must read for everyone.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 15, 2005

    This book will transport you to another time and many other places.

    I've been putting off reading The Priest of Blood since it arrived in December. I don't know why, but I just wasn't ready yet to crack the binding on such a special book. This Saturday I could stand it no longer...I started in the evening and had finished by this Sunday afternoon. My poor husband and children were neglected as I was drawn into the vibrant tapestry of both your words and Aleric's story. Not only was the story superbly told and written, but the settings were real for me. True, I've some background in medieval history, but others would have as easy a time picturing the locations as I did. It was vivid, real, dank, musty, dusty, sandy, hot, wet....and dark. I recommend it for anyone who enjoys a hisorical setting to their coming-of-age tales....It is most certainly NOT just for the horror or vampire fan!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 12, 2005

    Classic, but different

    Hello from Germany.I love to read horror novels although I'm a little tired of vampire novels. It's mostly the same stuff. But this one here is different, althoug it contains classic elements it is wonderful written, thrilling and makes looking for more - can't wait to read the rest!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2005

    Doug Clegg does it again!

    It's amazing to see the range of work that Clegg is able to write. The Priest of Blood is one that I got on an early preorder, and it was worth every bit of the money I paid and more. Do you like dark fantasy? Do you like knowing that once you love a book, there'll be more for you to read? That's how I felt with this one. I've always enjoyed reading this author's work, and this one proves to me why. Every book he writes shows his growth as a writer, and shows why he has such a solid fan base. Love it love it love it! Do yourself a favor and pick up this one (and some of his past work, too!) and you'll see what I mean.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 12, 2005

    I don't use the 'F' word lightly...but...

    in a word, this work is 'Fantastic!' - brooding, dark, with nightmarish elements that plunge the reader through layers of unknown dimensions and emotions. The plot is rich and meaty and satisfying, and it keeps you hooked. Clegg breaks every mold imaginable, and he does it with elan, and with an unabashed glee for the story he tells.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 13, 2005

    Douglas Clegg comes up with another MUST READ!!

    Priest of Blood delivers every aspect that you look for in a great Horror Fantasy book. Well defined characters and settings have you immersed in the book so deeply that you do not want to leave!! I read this book in one sitting....it delivers the goods. Defining a whole new vampire genre and putting Douglas Clegg in the ranks of Laymon, Little, Ketchum, Koontz and King!! Get this book today!!! You will not be disappointed.....

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Absolutely fantastic

    Aleric the Breton was born into poverty, but proves to the Baron¿s huntsman he can train all kinds of birds and moves into the manor. An older boy turns the huntsman against him making known that Aleric made love with the Baron¿s daughter in the church chapel. He is sent to the Holy Land to fight the Saracens as a servant-soldier. His brother, also fighting the infidels reunites with him but is soon killed. Aleric leaves the battle field heading for the city Hedammu inhabited by demons.................. In the city he is attacked by the vampire Pythyia who drains his blood each night for a month before changing him into a creature like her. He meets the other vampires of the city who believe he is their savior because he gave the Sacred Kiss to his friend and turned him into a vampire, which the others can¿t do. They want him to restore the powers that their ancestors had but to do that he must travel to the lost city of Alkemara. His journey, with five of his brethren, is successful but once in the lost city they face many dangers in their quest to restore to glory the vampire race................... Douglas Clegg is a horror writer who knows how to tell a great story with characters that any reader can empathize with, even vampires who kill mortals. The protagonist is a product of the times and readers get a glimpse of Breton where the old ways has not been wiped out by Christianity. The vampires are not the typical creatures of the night but have weaknesses that make them vulnerable objects of pity. It will be hard to wait for the next book in this blood curdling series............... Harriet Klausner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 12, 2005

    Love Doug's books

    I don't think I've ever submitted an online review of any of the authors I read but this one was one that I had to do. I've been collecting Doug's works for years and have just started obtaining copies to read. This one grabbed right from the beginning and never let go. If a book gets me from the beginning then it's a winner!! This one did! I'm sure I'll love the older ones as I get a chance to read them too!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 1, 2005

    Pure escapism

    Normally, I don't read any mideval stories, but having read this author before made me give it a try. And I am so glad I did. Not only does Mr. Clegg give new life to a tired genre, he creates an atmosphere that makes you think you are actually in that time period. It is almost like Mr. Clegg time travelled to do his research. Highly entertaining and highly recommended.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 1, 2005

    Priest of Blood - Book 1

    Douglas Clegg creates a world of dark imagery and supernatural wonder. Creatures and characters who you care about, even though inherently evil. The line between horror and fantasy is one that not every author can traverse, but Clegg does it perfectly. Book 1 of this trilogy is highly recommended.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2005

    A Master Storyteller

    Hooked from the very beginning. The Vampyricon take you to it's world of darkness and keeps you there. All the best of supernatural and fantasy in one! One of those rare books you just hate to finish!!!! Mr Clegg keeps topping himself with every book he writes. Amazing!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 1, 2005

    One of Douglas Clegg's finest novels

    I first became a fan of Douglas Clegg when I got a copy of his book Neverland at a library sale. Since then I've been hooked. I began collecting his hardcover novels and was extremely excited at the opportunity to get the beautiful limited edition hardcover of 'The Vampyricon Priest of Blood'. I am an avid fan of horror and vampire tales in particular. This was a book that I just could not put down until it was finished...yet I didn't want it to end, it was that good. Whether you are a fan of horror, vampires, or neither, you will find something to love in this book. Clegg tells a tale of an alternate history that is spellbinding and captivating. I am looking forward to the next book in the Vampyricon series. This is definitely a must read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2005

    A Classic in Horror Literature!

    In, The Priest of Blood Douglas Cleeg shows that he can hang with the greats. A fantastical blend of horror & fantasy that sets up a historical journey. Nothing he has done before will prepare you for this incredible saga. Highly reccomended!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 1, 2005

    Did It Again!!

    Once again Mr. Clegg has managed to write another book that grabs you from the first page and won't let you go. In simple words, it's fantastic!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 1, 2005

    The New Vampire

    Douglas Clegg has re-invented the vampire. His book 'The Priest of Blood' is the most original approach to an ancient legend since Stoker devised 'Dracula.' Richly conceived and fully realized, this is a novel both truly frightening and deeply disturbing. Generally, the realization that a novel is the first of a series is cause for ennui at best. In this case, it is cause for celebration.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 17, 2005

    A unique and truely new novel

    I was able to buy the limited edition published by Shocklines. I started reading it to see how it started and just couldn't stop. Douglas Clegg has laid the ground work for a whole new mythos. He has managed to do what no one has done for me since Stephen King wrote Salem's Lot. Write a vampire story that totally captivated me. His writing style is superior. He can convey complex mythos background information and move the story forward. I frequently lost myself in the pages, experiencing the story more then reading it. Get as many of Douglas Clegg's novels as you can find. He is the rare author that never forgets that the flow and truth of the story for the reader is of utmost importance

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 26 Customer Reviews

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