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Trials of Death (Cirque Du Freak: Saga of Darren Shan, #5) Hardcover – May 1, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 4-7-This is the fifth novel in the continuing saga of the youthful half-vampire assistant to Larten Crepsley, a full vampire. Crepsley has brought Darren to Vampire Mountain to undergo the Trials of Death, an elective ritual periodically undergone by vampires in order to bond with the clan and prove their worth. As a half-vampire, Darren is in more danger of failing the trials than the others who usually participate, but he is determined to go ahead. The penalty for failing without dying is execution. In the background a new conflict looms, involving the vampaneze, purple-skinned killers who resemble vampires but who are nothing like the beings whom Darren has come to respect and admire. When it appears that he will not survive the trials, his vampire friends urge him to escape. Escorting him out through the mountain's underground tunnels, they run smack into an incoming vampaneze invasion. In the final pages, the plot and action finally pick up to fever pace as Darren is caught between invaders, defenders, and possibly a traitor in the ranks of the faithful. Characters are mostly one-dimensional, and the plot plods along until the final conflict heats up the action. Although the story stands on its own, there isn't much reason to read this one aside from following the series.
Susan L. Rogers, Chestnut Hill Academy, PA
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.


Cirque Du Freak " and compelling book which leaves the reader hungry for more." JK Rowling 'Brilliant, macabre tale.' Guardian "I read Cirque Du Freak last week. I loved it. I love the way you manage to juggle the funny with the unpleasant, the affection with the hurt. It's great story-telling." Roddy Doyle The Vampire's Assistant "The Vampire's Assistant blazes a thrilling, gruesome trail through a fascinating plot." The Good Book Guide Vampire Mountain "Get your teeth into it!" Funday Times --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 830L (What's this?)
  • Series: Cirque Du Freak: Saga of Darren Shan (Book 5)
  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; 1st U.S. ed edition (May 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316603678
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316603676
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (88 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,368,041 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Darren Shan's real name is Darren O'Shaughnessy (pronounced O-Shock-Nessy, though it can also be pronounced O-Shawn-Essy_. Although he is Irish, he was born on July 2, 1972, in St. Thomas' Hospital, London -- directly across the river from the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, which may explain his fascination with evil bloodsuckers! He lived in South East London, near the Elephant & Castle. He started school at the early age of three (he was such a wild child, no pre-school facility would have him!), in English Martyrs. At the age of six, he moved to Limerick in Ireland, with his parents and younger brother, and has lived there ever since.

Shan went to primary school in Askeaton, where his mother was a teacher, then to secondary school in Copsewood College in Pallaskenry. Later, he went back to London to study Sociology and English at Roehampton University. He then worked for a cable television company in Limerick for a couple of years, before setting up as a full-time writer at the age of 23.

Although Shan always wanted to be a writer, it was only in his teenage years that he began writing in his spare time for fun (before that, he only wrote stories if they were for homework). He bought his first typewriter when he was 14, and never looked back, knocking out loads of short stories and comic scripts, and making false starts on several books, which he never completed. He enjoyed his first taste of literary success at age 15, as a runner-up in a television script-writing competition for RTE in Ireland, with a dark comedy script titled A Day in the Morgue (he was morbid even then!).

Shan was 17 when he finished his first novel. Although it was never published, he relished the writing experience, and found himself focusing more on novels in the coming years, leaving behind the short-story format. For the next several years, sandwiched between university and work, he wrote an average of one book a year, experimenting with different ideas, genres, lengths and styles. When he started writing full-time, his output shot up to 5 to 6 books per year! But that has dropped back to 2 to 3 recently, due to all the travelling around he's been doing to promote sales of his books.

All of these early books were adult-oriented. Although Shan quite liked the idea of writing a children's book one day, he considered himself an adult writer first and foremost. In fact, Shan's initial breakthrough was with an adult book, in 1999, titled Ayuamarca (since re-released in the UK as Procession Of The Dead, and coming to the USA in 2010).

In January 2000, his first children's book, Cirque du Freak, which he'd written as a fun side-project, was published. The first book in a series titled The Saga of Darren Shan (or Cirque du Freak, as it's known in America), it attracted rave reviews and an ever-growing army of fans hungry to learn more about vampires which were quite unlike any that anyone had ever seen before!

Shan loved writing for children so much, that for the next several years he focused exclusively on his books for younger readers. First, he wrote a total of 12 books about vampires. He quickly followed up his vampiric saga with The Demonata, a series about demons. Running to ten books in total, The Demonata cemented Shan's place in the UK as the Master Of Children's Horror, and saw him score his first UK #1 bestseller. He also wrote a one-off short book, called Koyasan, for Wold Book Day in the UK.

There was a very successful manga adaptation of Shan's vampire series, drawn by the Japanese artist, Takahiro Arai. It was originally serialized in Japan, but collected volumes are now on sale in the USA, UK and other countries.

In addition to writing for children, Shan has now returned to his first love and is once again writing for adults as well. He has had two adult books published in the UK, Procession Of The Dead and Hell's Horizon. They have been released in a number of other countries too, and are due to hit the USA in 2010. A third, City of the Snakes, goes on sale in the UK in March 2010. His first adult books were released under the name of D B Shan, but they are being reprinted under the name of Darren Shan in March 2010, and City of the Snakes will be released under the Darren Shan name.

By the start of 2010, Shan's books were on sale in every continent, in 39 countries, in 31 languages, and have been children's bestsellers in America, Britain, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway and other countries. The books have topped adult bestseller charts in Hungary, Japan and Taiwan. In total, Shan's books have sold close to 15 million copies worldwide!!!!

The movie rights to Cirque Du Freak were bought by Universal, and the first movie (which combines elements from the first three books in the series) was released on October 23rd, 2009, starring newcomer Chris Massoglia as Darren Shan, along with a wide array of established stars such as Josh Hutcherson, John C Reilly, Salma Hayek, Willem Defoe and Ken Watanabe. The movie was called Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant. It was released on DVD and Blu-Ray in February 2010.

A big film buff, with a collection of more than four thousand movies at home, Shan also reads lots of comics and books, and likes to study and collect original artwork, especially comic art and impressionist and post-impressionist art. He has recently started adding sculptures to his collection, making use of the large, empty field outside his back door. Other interests include long walks, watching football (he's a Tottenham Hotspur and Ireland fan), listening to pop and rock music, theatre, worldwide travel, sampling the delights of both gourmet cuisine and finger-licking junk food, and dreaming up new ways to terrify his readers!!!

Shan spends most of his time in Limerick, Ireland, with his girlfriend Bas. He has no pets, but a neighbourhood dog called Goldie joins him on his walks most days. He also feeds a variety of wild birds, and spots the occasional hare and pheasant strolling through his back yard. In addition to his main home in Ireland, Shan has an apartment in London, to which he escapes for a burst of high-speed living every so often, when he feels the need to get his juices flowing!! Shan rarely writes when in London or on the road, preferring to tie himself to his computer when at home in Limerick, where he can work away solidly without any distractions in the peace and quiet of the Irish countryside.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 15, 2003
Format: Hardcover
if you want to read the "Cirque Du Freak" books, please start with number 1. if you don't, it is unlikely that you will understand much. these books have a devoted fan base, and you can visit the authors website, ([...]) and look at the beautiful fan art that some kids have drawn. I have read every book in this series up to Trials of Death, and I am trying to get my hands on "the vampire prince". these books really make you want to keep reading, and most of the books end with you wondering what will happen next. and don't let reading level fool you- I am in the eigth grade, 13 years old, and I love these books. these books are written WONDERFULLY, they are full of emotion, action, violence, and gore. some parts are also very very sad, and I almost cried a few times, which is something I am not at all likely to do. but be warned, these books aren't for kids who are scared easily. there is an awful lot of death and graphic violence, which I think is great, but might upset the faint of heart. if you like books about vampires, fantasy, or just want something great to read, buy the first book in this series today! and these books aren't about dracula-style vampires- the creatures in these books are VERY believable. don't expect them to grow fangs or change into bats. from this series, my favorite characters were Evra Von, Darren Shan, and Kurda Smahlt (although he did something... well, read and find out). overall, this entire series is GREAT. please please please read them! each book seems better than the last one! and on a sad note, the author has sold the movie rights. you might think that is great, but I have a horrible feeling that the movie will be rated PG and the characters will be messed up. oh well. READ THESE BOOKS!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 27, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This book was so far the best of the series. The trials are extremely cool and there is even a traitor at the end of the book. Which leaves a cliffhanger that will make you think for months. If you are to impationt go order the 6th book off of amazon's united kingdom site they have nine cirque du freak books!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By J.A. VINE VOICE on March 17, 2005
Format: Paperback
In my review of Trials of Death, I said that I was concerned with the way things were heading, and hoped that the trials Darren would be faced with would be not of the garden variety. I need to retract that statement.

The tests that Darren undertook were challenging and very well written. And the author did not spare Darren an ounce of respite. Authors *need* to hurt their characters, and this author put Darren through the wringer. These challenges slayed Darren to the bone - burned him, scarred him, and at one point nearly killed him if not for an intervention from an unlikely source.

Because of this, Darren is shamed, and the entire Vampire community is up in arms over what to do. Anyone who does not complete the Trials of Death, or has someone intervene on their behalf is dishonered, and the fate is death. As usual, the book is full of twists and turns, was delightful to read, and had a terrific, terrific cliffhanger.

Also, there was a stunning turn of events that I'm sure left most readers of the book with their jaw on the floor.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 7, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I finished this book in three days. You can't put it down, at the end of each chapter, it ends so that you want to keep reading. The way these stories are written is great. Darren Shan is a very good author. If you like books that make you feel like you are right there in the story, then get this book. It's an awsome story. (and also: I'm going into 8th grade, its not only for 5-7 graders)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Lee T. Larsen on May 17, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Continuing approximately four hours after the conclusion from book four, "Trials of Death" tells of Darren's trials that he must undertake to gain support to the vampires. Although the book is a little slow at the begining, it really picks up pace when the trials are selected and what the trials involve. The ending is very cliffhanging because of a traitor that becomes known in the last chapter, and what happens to Darren when he finds out about the traitor. I cannot wait till September when the next book will come out.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jarrod T Thompson VINE VOICE on January 25, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Darren Shan is once again successful in continuing to build upon the interest already built up in this addictive series. Darren has to pass five trials to prove himself worthy to be a part of the vampire clan. If he fails, he dies.

This book includes several new plot lines that continue to make the series interesting. It takes a whole lot of talent to continue to create more interest in an extremely satisfying series.

For those who claim the author is without skill, I say Charna's guts! You just don't get it. This series continues to be all readers can think about until. . .

the next installment--The Vampire Prince
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By K. arita on March 23, 2006
Format: Paperback
Cirque Du Freak #5

By: Darren Shan

Reviewed by : K. Arita


Cirque Du Freak #5 is the fifth book of the Cirque Du Freak series. There are 17 ways to die in the trials of death unless the luck of the vampire is with you. He has to prove to the vampire clan that he is good enough to be one of the Princes. He has to risk his life in 5 deadly ways. The first three ways is finding a secret door in a maze that slowley fills up with water in aproximately 17 minutes. The second trial is when he has to walk through the Hall of Flames. That trial is when he has to survive in a big box for 15 minutes while furious bursts of flames are coming straight at him. The third trial is the Cave of Needles. This is when Darren has to climb through a slippery cave that has needle sharp stalagmites and stalagtites. Any faint noise will cause some of the stalagmites and stalagtites to fall and maybe pierce through his body and kill him. But in the end, one of his close friends, a Prince, turns out to be a vampeze prince (an eviler version of the vampire. The vampeze actually kills its victims while sucking the blood out of it.)

I liked this book because it keeps you in suspense. Lots of cliff hangers. One of the cliff hangers is at the very end when Darren finds out that his friend, Gavner Pearl, is the Vampeze Prince. The vampires hate the vampeze because it kills its victims, so Gavner decides to spare his life and Darren makes a run for it. He runs to the Hall of Princes, but the Vampeze are all over the place, so he was trapped. And thats where the book ended. Now I really want to buy the 6th book!

Also I liked it when he was in the Hall of Flames. It said, "It was a lousy choice, but there was no time to complain.
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