Grade 6 Up-- An Arabian Nights flavor adds a twist to this supernatural tale. After a hearty meal, Masrur settles back with his friends to share stories. He tells a tale of how his caravan was once attacked by bandits, leaving the survivors to find their way home from the north lands. Suddenly, one night, someone--or something--begins killing off their men. A young boy who is familiar with the territory tells them they've been attacked by a vampyr. Sure enough, they begin to notice a shadowy figure lurking near their campsite in the evening. At a loss to stop the murders, the travelers decide to put an old folk legend to the test. If they can entertain the vampyr all night with their tales, they can prevent him from killing one of them. The legend is true, it turns out; too true, for the beast challenges them to a storytelling contest. If they win, they can pass through the north lands unheeded. But if he wins, they become his lunch. This story avoids the stereotypes of Transylvania, only to reiterate cliches of the Middle East. The tale drags its feet in introducing the protagonist--the vampyr--and the development of its character seems almost an afterthought. Also, the stories told are mundane, and don't come close to being as memorable as the tales of Scheherazade. --Cathryn A. Camper, Minneapolis Public Library Junior High Up
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On a dangerous journey from fabled Baghdad to the desolate mountains of Armenia, a caravan of soldiers and diplomats is stalked by a mysterious vampyr, and the only way for the men to ward the demon off is to tell stories of magic and enchantment.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I love Tad Williams. Well, at least his writing. Let's not get too overboard here. This is a pretty awesome but short story in a Scherezade mold, where a sultan is called upon during a drunken revel to tell a story. His tale is one where he is much younger, in a group of soldiers accompanying a caravan from Araby into the Caucasus mountains. They are attacked by some brigands, and the few survivors try to escape back to the desert. However, the vampyr stalking them has other ideas. They know from a young lad that they apprehend that the vampyr must stop to listen to any stories told to it, and that this is their only chance to survive. So this is what they do, until the vampyr walks up to their fire and declares his boredom. It challenges them to a contest of sad tales. If the wanderers win, they are free to go, but if the vampyr wins, he gets to eat one of their members.Vampyr tales are always so grim and foreboding that I usually don't like them, but if Tad Williams writes one, I might as well try it. He uses the best metaphors (or are they similies?), like 'The vampyr's laugh sounded like bark being ripped from a rotting tree.' Or, from his Otherland series, 'Getting him to do anything was like pushing butter through a stone.' Great stories, great characters, even in a book as short as this one, but he does push the boundary of too much data. Within sight of the border, but not too close. Anything by Mr. Williams is to be immediately read, at least until you run out of books, then you have to make do with his mutterings on his website. The only things by him that I haven't read yet is his debut Tailchaser's Song, because I really dislike cats, and his multiple new series that are as yet incomplete. And the 8 or so issues of Aquaman that he wrote a few years ago. Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn is, in my opinion, the best modern fantasy story out there, just for sake of saying.
A cute little vampire tale told around a campfire. It sort of reminded me of the tales of Ali Baba. It was good, but not scary or overly complex.