Every author of historical fiction will sooner or later come under the scrutiny of someone specializing in the subject matter she writes about. To say that such a moment is anticipated with trepidation would be an understatement. For the Dracula Chronicles that encounter is reflected in the attached review. You can judge the reviewer’s verdict for yourself. All I can say is “Thank you, Krystina Walc”.
Dracula Chronicles: Son of the Dragon (Volume 1)
I’ve been interested in the literary legend of Wallachian ruler Vlad Dracula, named also Vlad the Impaler, for several years. I try to find everything what has been written about him – both historical books, and literary fiction (music and pictures as well) . It’s my research work, but that doesn’t deprive me of “normal” reader’s pleasure when I find some interesting and well written book. I was glad to learn that a new novel has been published – “Son of the Dragon” (the first part of “Dracula Chronicles”) by Victor T. Foia. My curiosity has even increased when I have read on the webpage that Mr. Foia is Romanian, born in Transylvania, not far from Vlad’s birthplace. I ordered the book at once. I live in Poland, so I had to wait for it a little, my desire to read the story increasing all the time.
The trouble with heroes from the past is that many facts are lost for history. As far as Vlad Dracula is concerned there is another difficulty – what most people know about him is “dark legend of bloodthirsty tyrant” created by his enemies centuries ago. If we had a story written by his comrades in arms or by somebody from his court, it could be quite different tale. (Well… let’s not forget about Bram Stoker’s vampire too). I think it’s great that contemporary writers do their best to get through this dark legend and show the real man Vlad could be.
Victor Foia shows us a young prince, just on the borderline between the boy’s age and manhood. The young knight, who believes in honor and honesty and these virtues are confronted with “not so honest” world he enters. Well, he is also “hot-blooded” person – if there is an opportunity to take a risk, it’s sure he will do. And sometimes… yes, in some episodes he resembles all these fabulous and legendary young heroes, who must leave their ordinary lives one day and “travel towards their destiny”. Everything on the background of 15th century Europe, with it’s kings and princes, wars, knight’s tournaments and political plots. And with it’s superstitions and prophecies as well.
I believe that readers will “make friends” with young Vlad, as presented by Mr. Foia. Many of them has already done it.
I’ve read the novel with great pleasure. The author is wonderful story-teller indeed. He has a real gift. I became fond of young Vlad, his relatives and friends very quickly. I was moved several times. I was amused quite often too, especially when Vlad and his brother, young knights, willing to show their skills in tournament, didn’t know which would be better – to ask father for permission before or for mercy after.
What I like best in the writer’s style is a special kind of “sensuality” (psychologists probably have better word for it). The reader can “see”, “hear”, sometimes also “smell” and “touch” the world created in the novel (I almost felt softness of wolf’s fur). Besides, Mr. Foia is perfect when describing feelings of human body (heat in hands and head, change of breath and of heartbeat, even the feelings of half-conscious man). Maybe that’s the very special feature of the writer’s own sensitivity.
Although we know real Vlad’s story more or less, “Son of the Dragon” leaves the reader with many questions. Will Vlad meet some of the persons he met in this volume again? Will he see any of the women, who were his first lovers? Will the wicked men be ever punished? And what about eight-year-old girl, who believes that “princes are strong and handsome, and they rescue people of danger”? Will Vlad ever be able to do what he has promised her? The first part of the novel ends in the right moment to keep readers’ interest, I think. To know the answers we must wait for next parts of “Dracula Chronicles”. I am waiting.