Posted on September 20, 2004 by Flames
Edited by Justin Achilli and Rob Hatch, White Wolf Publishing (WW11868), May 1997, 393 pgs.
French countrysides, medieval haunts and political intrigue colour the stories published in Dark Tyrants, A Vampire: The Dark Ages Anthology. Edited by Justin Achilli and Robert Hatch, the Dark Tyrants anthology sets out to create dark intrigue in an old world setting.
With any group of stories, you will find yourself trying to draw parallels from one story to the next. Dark Ages is no exception. The flow of the stories is appropriate, as they are heavily permeated with French names and settings. The stories interact with each other so well, that some of them, such as “The Burden” written by Edward Carmien, appear to continue into the next.
The challenge with writing a short story for this type of universe is to make the stories both entertaining to the reader, as well as descriptive enough so that Clan characters are easily identified. Surprisingly enough, length of story does not attribute to how quickly a character may be identified. Indeed, there are first-person stories such as “The Hawk and the Slipper” written by James S. Door, where the main character’s Clan is slowly relayed to the reader. Refreshing and fun, not all of the stories are written in first person, and not all of the stories have a vampire as its narrative character.
Also unique to A Vampire: The Dark Ages Anthology, is, of course, the question of setting. Do these stories fit well within the Vampire mythos? While there was a wide variety of setting within the various countrysides in Europe and beyound, without knowing more about the Dark Ages in this mythos it is not apparent whether or not these settings would be applicable in a role-play gaming session. There are stories, such as “The Bearer of Ill News” written by Richard E. Dansky, that one could imagine stumbling across as part of a GM’s storyline. There are others, such as “Eating Medusa” written by Patrick Hadley, that speculate and stretch the limits of the Dark Ages setting.
While reading the anthology, you will find a few surprises in store. Irony as a theme abounds throughout the storylines, as does redemption, revenge, and pity. The story “Seeker” written by Tim Waggoner is one of those surprises. Giving a short story the appearance of depth usually means that the author must choose his or her words extremely wisely. This author chose to write a story focusing on a different aspect of the Vampire mythos. In “Seeker”, the spotlight shines on William, who has a past, who is searching. William is not a vampire, and even when he meets one Waggoner does not immediately focus on the all-powerful Vampire. Through the end, the focus remains on William. You will find this is unique, because you want to learn more about the mysterious Vampire. Instead, the direction is true to the story, and you walk with William to the end.
Overall, Dark Tyrants, A Vampire: The Dark Ages Anthology is a fun read for any level of reader, whether you are learned in the Vampire universe or not. The stories, mixed together, are a potpourri of different writing styles. There is a story that will haunt you from this book, you only need to read it to find out which one it is.
Reviewer: Monica Valentinelli