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Lord of the Dead: The Secret History of Byron Hardcover – February 1, 1996


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 324 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books; First Edition edition (February 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671534254
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671534257
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 7 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,882,618 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Lord Byron as a vampire? That notion may not explain the aberrant behavior of the much-revered Romantic poet, but it definitely provides a racy foundation for Holland's engaging and sophisticated debut novel. The story begins in London in the present, as lovely young Rebecca Carville petitions her lawyer for the keys to the family crypt, where she hopes to find the sole existing copy of Byron's memoirs. Instead, she finds Byron himself, who proceeds to tell her the story of how he became a vampire during his journey to Greece. The first half of Byron's account remains within the conventions of the horror genre, as the great poet desperately fights the efforts of the powerful Greek vardoulacha, who eventually drains his blood. Once Byron begins to explore his new nature, however, Holland embarks on a remarkable literary journey, touching on how the poet's burden might have affected his relationships with the women in his life as well as his problematic dealings with Shelley. Other subplots recall the early Anne Rice novels, particularly the sections in which Byron tries to unite the vampires and help the Greeks in their revolt against the Turks. But the most compelling portions of the book probe the links between blood and family that surface when Byron discovers that he must take the life of a relative in order to maintain his youthful beauty. Both the period detail and the biographical material are exquisitely rendered, and the shocking revelation that brings the story full circle and places Rebecca Carville in extreme peril makes for a nice surprise ending. With this striking, highly original debut, Holland offers a valuable addition to the vampire legend. 75,000 first printing; $100,000 ad/promo; BOMC and QPB selection; simultaneous Simon & Schuster Audio.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Noted poet Lord Byron recounts to a frightened young woman the harrowing events that led to his becoming a vampire of tremendous power, a true Lord of the Dead. While traveling through 19th-century Greece, he was befriended by a centuries-old Turk, who first lured him into the vampire life and then seemingly murdered the one woman Byron had ever loved, the beautiful slave Haidee. Holland's uneven first novel closely follows the actual events of Byron's life. It also adds an interesting slant on the vampire world by exploring its darker side. Interwoven throughout is a sad and strange love story. Most fiction collections will want to acquire this BOMC and QPB selection.?Patricia Altner, Information Seekers, Bowie, Md.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Azurestrangelove on April 7, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I would like to distance myself from all of the negative criticisms of this novel; as valid as they may truly be.
I am not a 'reader' in the sense of actually liking to pick up a book and read it as a source of leisure and entertainment and even when it does happen, I am rarely if at all convinced that what I was reading was indeed a good use of my time. But, one day I bought a lot of vampire novels to read to pass the time at work. All of which were terribly written, full of cliches, gory descriptions and dull charactors. All except this one.
The book starts off with Ms. Rebecca Carville, a strong willed young woman who conives her way into aquiring the keys to the Chapel of St. Jude, which has been locked and forbidden to be entered by anyone for many years. She hopes to uncover the truth of what happened to her Mother, who disappeared when Rebecca was only 4 years old. Despite frantic warnings not to enter the chapel, Rebecca desends into the shadowy depths only to find herself in the prescence of powerful and radiantly beautiful vampire,Lord Byron.
From that point on, the point of view is shifted from 3rd person to 1st, as Lord Byron tells Rebecca the story of how he came to be who he is today. Living the life of a monk whose greatest pleasure is the sin of eating pork, The 21 year old Lord Byron becomes bored with his life and sets out traveling the east with his friend, Hobhouse.
While in Greece, they accidentally are led to off course to Aheron, which is known as "The gateway to Hell". Entranced by a mysterious stranger, Byron decides to continue to Aheron while Hobhouse returns to Greece. He falls in love with a beautiful slave named Haidee who has been enslaved by The power Pasha, the dread-lord of the Aheron.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 14, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I know virtually nothing about Lord Byron, except that he was a 19th-century English poet, so I can't say how accurate "Lord of the Dead" is in regard to certain parts of his life shown in here. But Byron fans should like this one since he's cast as the main character--as a vampire, of all things--narrating his past to his single captive audience, Rebecca Carville. His existence in "Lord of the Dead" basically consists of him traveling all over Europe, which does become monotonous after awhile. Yet it's in Greece, where he's traveling with his companion Hobhouse, that he is unwillingly turned into a vampire by Vakhel Pasha. Byron also happens to be in love with the Pasha's young runaway slave, Haidee, which is part of the reason why he kills the Pasha and then escapes the rabid village with her--only to face tragedy a short time later.
The book started out ok, so I was a little confused by all of the low reviews; however, as I continued reading, I understood why. After the first couple chapters, the book seems to fizzle out, especially after Byron kills the Pasha for the first time (yes, he has to attempt this more than once; I guess some people don't understand the meaning of "immortality.") Then comes Byron's internal struggle with his new existence--as well as his acquaintance with other fellow vampires--which doesn't really add anything new to the vampire myth. I wondered exactly how Rebecca could sit there and listen for all 341 pages and not become bored herself. About 100 pages could have been removed from "Lord of the Dead" and it wouldn't have harmed the story a bit; in fact, it would have probably improved it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 26, 1996
Format: Hardcover
The premise of Byron scholar Tom Holland's first novel is that the Romantic poet became a vampire during a trip to Greece with his friend J.C. Hobhouse in 1810, after meeting the mysterious and evil Turkish lord Vakhel Pasha. Byron's story is related by the poet himself, framed within the modern-day search of one of his descendants, Rebecca Ruthven, for his lost memoirs. The author demonstrates a thorough knowledge of the life and works of his subject, using documented facts and quotes from the writings of Byron and his associates to give weight to the story's theme. The story is somewhat weakened by the use of the frame format and the first-person narration, as the character of Rebecca is never fully developed and, although she appears early in the book as a protagonist, her ultimate role is merely that of listener. Fans of Byron and the other Romantics should find this approach intriguing, but might also want to read "The Stress of Her Regard" by Tim Powers, which is considerably more bizarre
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By DWD's Reviews VINE VOICE on May 9, 2008
Format: Audio Cassette
I picked up this audiobook because I very much enjoyed Holland's non-fiction book about the end of the Roman Republic. I am not particularly a fan of vampire books nor of Lord Byron.

The abridgement of the book contributed to my enjoyment, I am sure. There were many long stretches that were so bloated by flowery speeches, especially in the first hour or so of the audiobook, that I probably would have bailed on an unabridged version of the book. However, the last two hours were so interesting and so well-performed by Richard E. Grant that I had to bump the score up to 4 stars.

The running time of the abridged audiobook is about 3 hours.
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