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Valley of the Dead (The Truth Behind Dante's Inferno) [Kindle Edition]

Kim Paffenroth , Dante Alighieri
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Working from Dante’s Inferno to draw out the reality behind the fantasy, author Kim Paffenroth unfolds the horrifying true events that led Dante to fictionalize the account of his lost years…

For seventeen years of his life, the exact whereabouts of the medieval Italian poet Dante Alighieri are unknown to modern scholars. It is known that during this time he traveled as an exile across Europe, working on his epic poem, The Divine Comedy. In his masterpiece he describes a journey through the three realms of the afterlife. The most famous of its three volumes, Inferno, describes hell.

During his lost wanderings, Dante stumbled upon an infestation of the living dead. The unspeakable acts he witnessed —cannibalism, live burnings, evisceration, crucifixion, and dozens more—became the basis of all the horrors described in Inferno. Afraid to be labeled a madman, Dante made the terrors he experienced into a more “believable” account of an otherworldly adventure filled with demons and mythological monsters.

But at last, the real story can finally be told.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1396 KB
  • Print Length: 260 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1934861316
  • Publisher: Permuted Press (March 23, 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #720,566 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding, quite different zombie tale April 9, 2010
Format:Kindle Edition
Despite talks (within the genre) of zombies being just about "as played out" as vampires, there seems to be a fresh take on them nearly every month . . . but few have been as interesting (or intelligent) as Kim Paffenroth's VALLEY OF THE DEAD, which takes its cue from visions seen in Dante's INFERNO and imagines what he went through during his 17-year exile from Italy (a timeline of his life is provided for us mere mortals!).

The author's prologue itself is worth the cover price and dared me (and will dare any zombie fanatic) to keep reading long into the night.

Besides the uber-cool setup, Paffenroth's writing style here differs from his "Dying to Live" series, and the whole tone of the story seems (at times) like you're reading a lost account of a historical reality. The various characters he encounters (and befriends) along his journey seem quite real, and in their conversations (especially in Chapter 20) we learn nifty bits and pieces about Dante's past (hmmm---seems Dr. Kim set out not only to give his readers the willies, but 'learn 'em a bit, too).

While I truly enjoyed this, I'm not sure how many fans of the standard "shoot-'em-up/gut-munch" zombie tale will; but if you allow yourself to enter Paffenroth's speculative vision with no pre-conceptions, you might find it a hard place to want to leave.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Zombies don't get much smarter than this February 13, 2011

There are two main things you need to know about Kim Paffenroth's VALLEY OF THE DEAD. It's about zombies. And the book is based on Dante's `Inferno' from his classic poem The Divine Comedy. That's a serious mix of horror gore and incredible intelligence. I doubt very few writers could pull this combo off. But having met and chatted in depth with Mr. Paffenroth, I can also say that I'm not surprised that he nailed it.

With this novel, Paffenroth writes as if it's actual history. He follows Dante during one of the most depressing times of his life, his exile from his native city of Florence, Italy. Not much is known of Dante's life during this period but Paffenroth is more than happy to fill in those blank spots- with a zombie plague that has overrun the lands. And in doing so, his fictional story explains in a very matter-of-fact manner how Dante came upon his inspiration for his greatest and best known piece of work.

Told through Dante's eyes and words, he travels in search of some land that hasn't been overrun by the zombie plague. Along the way he joins a few companions- a soldier, a monk, and a pregnant peasant girl- who he forms unique bonds with as they journey literally through different levels of hell to a `safe' destination they're not sure even exists.

Where Paffenroth makes a brilliant choice is in having the living humans be the real horror. Oh yes, there are zombies all over the countryside, in the woods, the mountains and villages. You never know when they will attack and Paffenroth keeps the tension built throughout like a constant heartbeat. But it's in meeting the people who have survived the plague that offer the greatest threats.

Each chapter almost comes off as its own parable or tale.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Dark Look at Dante's Masterpeice October 16, 2010
The Divine Comedy by Italian poet Dante Alighieri is, arguably, one of the most studied and celebrated poems of all time. Religious scholars have spent centuries analyzing it for its theological content. Students of literature have sung praises for its prose for just long. On a personal level, Inferno (the volume of The Divine Comedy that deals with Hell) is one of the main things that sparked my dark interest in all things horror. The rhythm of the lines and the utterly macabre subject matter teamed with the violent yet beautiful imagery and I was hooked instantly. Now years later I've just finished Kim Paffenroth's Valley of the Dead, which is his fictional account of the years Dante spent in exile from his native city of Florence, and old horror is fresh again. He explains his influence, ideas, and drive for Valley of the Dead in his prologue. I read the entire book and thoroughly enjoyed it but I have to admit it only really took me the three page prologue to know I was gonna dig this ride.
In this account Dante enters a foreboding valley and is instantly drawn into an unholy adventure as both the dead and an army sent to destroy them ravages the first village Dante comes across. Dante, a man steeped in tradition and customs from his native land, saves the life of a pregnant peasant girl and together they flee the doomed town as the dead feast on its citizens and the army burns its buildings to the ground. The odd duo ride to the next town to warn of the dead and the approaching army but arrive to find the town swept up in frenzy against a supposed witch. One lone soldier, a deserter from the calloused and cruel army, stands against the crazed town folk. Again the walking dead appear and fire burns and Dante has another companion.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Whereabouts of Dante Finally Revealed? June 2, 2010
Dante Alighieri spent seventeen years of his life in exile from his home in Italy. Scholars do not know where he was or what he did, other than spend that time writing his masterpiece THE DIVINE COMEDY. His most famous part of that epic poem is The Inferno in which Dante paints a truly frightening vision of Hell. VALLEY OF THE DEAD is the account of what Dante experienced that brought him to write Inferno. Travelling through an Eastern European valley with a woman, a soldier, and a monk, Dante eluded and battled the living dead. He was so horrified by what he witnessed and experienced that he turned it into a fantastic fictional account after his escape from the valley.
First off, you do not have to have read The Inferno to read VALLEY OF THE DEAD. Now, to say I liked this novel would be an understatement. I loved it! Kim Paffenroth has done an amazing job translating the events of The Inferno into a novel speculating on the whereabouts of Dante. The main characters, Dante, Bogdana, Radovan, and Adam are very real without too much time having to be spent on development. The secondary characters we meet along the way are much like people you'd find in any crisis taking place. You will either be able to relate to, or at least recognize them. There is definitely a theological question here....aren't zombies also creatures of God? At times you will feel sorry for them, wonder if they feel pain or not and almost come to understand the zombies and their actions while being repulsed at the actions of the people throughout the story. The zombies have no choice but to succumb to their appetites, but what about man? I highly recommend VALLEY OF THE DEAD and I guarantee you it will pique your interest in reading or re-reading Dante's Inferno; I myself will be re-reading it.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Zombies!?
This was so much NOT what I expected. Its not a bad book, per se, an okay read. Just never expected zombies. Read more
Published 14 months ago by E. B. Patterson
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting take on the inspiration for the Inferno
Valley of the Dead is not a typical zombie novel. This novel gives you a fictionalized account of Dante Alighieri trying to escape a plague of zombies during his exile from... Read more
Published 20 months ago by Disciple of Poseidon
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read
This book is very well-written. There are two things going on here - zombies and a behind-the-story novel about Dante's Inferno. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Elizabeth
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting adaptation of Dante's Inferno ...
I liked it, but it was a bit like Inferno by Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven. Some variations, but I don't want to be a spoiler. Read more
Published 23 months ago by Michael Knutson
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow
This is exactly what I imagined it to be. The visions it left me with........astonished!! This really takes you there and makes you think.
Published 24 months ago by Tonya
1.0 out of 5 stars Silly non history of a small portion of Danta life
To much silliness about the living dead. If you have a serious interest in history DO NOT
buy his book. Read more
Published on February 8, 2013 by Gregory Wilson
5.0 out of 5 stars Valley of the Dead
Puzzling at first wondering where their journey will lead the travelers. But as the journey continues you have an idea where they are going even though you don,t want to know the... Read more
Published on January 25, 2013 by Becky
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
My first zombie book. I really enjoyed it thought it was well put together. Kudos to the author for making a good world to walk through for a few days.
Published on January 23, 2013 by fearz
4.0 out of 5 stars Zombies in History!
Wheeee! Having not read The Inferno in . . . several decades, this brought back just enough reminders to make the story flow river-like though my day. Read more
Published on December 21, 2012 by Khinasi
5.0 out of 5 stars Fast moving
The only thing is that is a problem with this story, is it ended to soon. I really got into the tale and was sorry to see it end. Read more
Published on December 17, 2012 by old reader
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More About the Author

I am a graduate of St John's College, Annapolis (1988), Harvard Divinity School (1990), and the University of Notre Dame (1995). I work at Iona College. I am married with two wonderful children. I am blessed to be able to write about the things that interest me and share my ideas with others.

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