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Cirque du Freak: Trials of Death by Darren Shan

on August 9, 2012

Spoiler Alert: Not much happens here either Cirque du Freak: Trials of Death by Darren Shan

Cirque du Freak: Trails of Death is the fifth book in the Cirque du Freak series by Darren Shan. It is also the second book in the Vampire Rites Trilogy.

Ok, so this book begins where the last one left off, with Darren about to undergo the Trials of Initiation (otherwise known as the Trials of Death, hence the title). The Trials of Initiation are the tests vampires must go through to become a Vampire General, and Darren must do them to prove that he was a worthy addition to the vampire clan and Mr. Crepsley didn’t make a horrible mistake when blooding him.

That’s right. Darren, the little half-vampire with the mindset of a fourteen year old has to prove himself to the Prince guys to fix Crepsley’s, the bazillion year -old vampire, mistake. I didn’t get to say anything about this in the last post, since I make it a rule not to spoil the endings of what I review. But seriously, vampires? How is that fair?

Granted, they do give him some slack by getting rid of the trials that he wouldn’t have a snowball’s chance in Hell in getting through. But still, book. I’m on to you.



On. to. you.

Anyway, so he has to do the tests. And they are really, really, hard. As in, if you mess up, there’s a very good chance you’ll die. And if you fail, the other vampires would execute you in shame. No pressure.

So after a few weeks of training with the game master, Vanez Blaze (you know, this may be a minor complaint, but the names given to the characters are becoming more and more ridiculous), Darren goes through the first trial: he has to make it out a cave before it completely fills up with water, while carrying a rock that’s half his weight.

In the second trial, Darren must make it through the Path of Needles, which is a giant cavern filled with sharp rocks and stalactites, while barefoot. Woohoo.

At the end of the second Trial comes the Festival of the Undead, which is a big, three day vampire party in which all business comes to a halt while the vampires party. So, yay, break time before the last super hard trial!

I should mention the passage during the Festival of the Undead in which Darren talks to Kurda Smalht (the pacifist soon-to-be Vampire Prince), See, Kurda feels that the vampires are way too concerned over impressed each other with their unique badassitude, claiming that it will be the thing that destroys the vampire clan.

Foreshadowing? We shall see.

Oh, and this is also when we meet the Guardians, which are humans that live in Vampire Mountain and trade their blood for the bodies of dead vampires. Which they then eat.


 I cannot express how much I love this picture.

And they’re not really mentioned again. So, it’s just a random creepy thing that was mentioned and not followed up on. Completely necessary.

But Alas! the Festival of the Undead ends and Darren begins preparing for the hardest of the trials, the Hall of Flames (because, no matter what, when the protagonist of the series when put in this kind of situation will always have to do the toughest challenge of all challenges that can be pulled from a random drawing. NO MATTER WHAT).

The Hall of Flames challenge is when a vampire has to stay in a room for fifteen minutes as flames jut out of the walls. Which brings up the question: why does this room exist? My theory is that it was supposed to be an execution method that didn’t quite work, so they decided to turn it into a trial.

And it’s here that things turn for the worst for our hero.


Though this was a lot better than Vampire Mountain, it was still pretty… not… good. I don’t want to say it’s bad… ’cause it’s not… it’s just not… good. At least, that’s just my opinion. In fact, that’s how I would describe this whole part of the series. It’s not good, but it’s not bad. It’s as if the last two didn’t have the same vibe as the first three books.

And again, I have the same complaint as I did for Vampire Mountain, in that it didn’t seem like a whole book. Instead, it seemed like the middle part, with the reader being dropped right into the story after Darren gets his sentence, with somewhat minimal amount of back story.

Because of that, I wouldn’t recommend reading this book without reading Vampire Mountain. Then again, I don’t really recommend reading Vampire Mountain, as it is, by far, the worst book of the series, so take that as you will.

Rating: 6 out of 10.



2 responses to “Cirque du Freak: Trials of Death by Darren Shan

  1. dukebarclay says:

    I’m gonna go ahead and picture Vanez Blaze as vampire Burgess Meredith. I bet it vastly improves the training montage.

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