‘The Deathless’ is an original novel based on the ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’ TV series or, to put it another way, it is not a novelisation of one of the episodes. But it very well could be as it has all the right ingredients with various plot twists and a satisfying ending just in time for the commercials. I’m not sure if I need to provide the background story to ‘Buffy’ as it was such a huge hit in the years just before and just after the millennium. It can still be seen on the cable channels along with its spin-off series ‘Angel’. Basically, a young girl turns 18 and discovers she’s actually a vampire slayer with enhanced physical strength, speed and stamina.
The Deathless fits in between the TV episode’s 13 ‘The Zeppo’ and 14 ‘Bad Girls’ of series 3. Most of the characters are still recovering from the injuries sustained during the Zeppo incident. Speaking of characters, we have in addition to Buffy, Giles, Xander, Willow, Oz, Faith, Angel and Cordelia. They are collectively known as the Scooby Gang. That was a bit foresight on someone’s part as Sarah Michelle Gellar who plays Buffy went on to play Daphne in the ‘Scooby-Doo’ films.
The story opens with Buffy and Faith (who is also a Slayer) hanging about in a graveyard waiting for a newly created vampire to emerge from her grave. Only this time, the vampire has done a runner. When they do finally catch up with the fleeing vampire something seems to be affecting it, making it cringe. It’s still dispatched in the usual manor but Buffy decides that the nearby house should be investigated by the Scooby Gang.
The resident of the house is none other than the mythical witch Baba Yaga from Russian folklore. In fact, there’s quite a Russian influence to this story as Bulat the Brave also makes an entrance. He’s immortal due to inheriting the immortality from Koschei the Deathless who, centuries ago, suffers an accident which leaves him a bit dead. Quite a lot dead bit still lingering on. There’s hope for Koschei as it so happens that the stars are going to be in alignment to allow a suitably skilled sorcerer to perform the right of Vozrozhdeniye and resurrect him. Of course, this is not a good thing as Koschei was not very nice chap and the ceremony requires the deaths of a lot of people.
From a literary perspective, there isn’t a lot of character development here as they can’t change from how they are depicted on the small screen. There is the opportunity to fill out some of the back story especially for Giles and Angel. Principle Snyder, Buffy’s arch-human nemesis, gets to play his part which is generally to make life as unpleasant as possible for Buffy. It so happens that now is the time for Buffy’s year at Sunnydale to have a Ring Day. Apparently, every year the outgoing senior students get the option to buy a ring to commemorate their time at the school. There’s a ceremony to present the ring to the students.
The story is fast paced with lots of action and as I said earlier, plot twists. Some of these can be seen coming whilst others are a surprise. It’s a testament to the quality of the writing that you can actually visualise this as a ‘Buffy’ TV episode. The characters are consistent with what we know from the TV series as are the settings. Actually placing the events of ‘The Deathless’ in the ‘Buffy’ series timeline is a nice touch which will be appreciated by the hard core ‘Buffy’ fans. Yes, you could argue that it is very formulaic but within the confines of the format this is quite a good story with a good ending.
If you’re a fan of ‘Buffy’, then this is a book for you. I was a bit sceptical as I picked up the book for the first time as commercial tie-ins don’t always work but this is a very enjoyable read. It’s not going to tax your intellect but nevertheless it is enjoyable escapism.
(pub: Simon and Schuster/Pocket Books, 2007. 369 page paperback. Price: £ 6.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-84739-037-4)
check out websites: www.simonandschuster.com and www.DeCandido.net