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The Golden

3.47  ·  Rating details ·  596 ratings  ·  52 reviews
Deviating from traditional tales that feature lonely vampires who prowl through human society in search of victims or solace, this account of vampires flourishing in their own "inhuman society" takes place in the year 1860, when their centuries-long breeding experiments have finally produced "The Golden," a mortal whose blood is perfect and powerful. Mobilized by the news ...more
Paperback, 200 pages
Published April 1st 2006 by Golden Gryphon Press (first published 1993)
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Average rating 3.47  · 
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 ·  596 ratings  ·  52 reviews

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mark monday
Oct 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
shepard is a hell of an author. in The Golden, he almost appears to be slumming a bit... but shepard slumming is better than many a hack's best efforts. this novel combines vampires, police procedural, and historical fiction in an elegant little mystery set in the 19th century, in one of the most foreboding, mindboggling, and just plain gigantic castles this side of Gormenghast. which of the nefarious vampires slaughtered the lovely Golden before her decanting? what a waste of a ceremonial ...more
I wanted to use this review to critic vampire fiction in general, but then I realized I haven’t really read any since reading Dracula in middle school. Anyways I believe this book is different from probably most anything in that school, as it is on one level such a parade of delirious, freakish imagery that if this was written in late 19th or early 20th century by some French guy we would all be drooling over its small print reissue by Daedelus or Exact Change. A detective story, set in a ...more
Charles Dee Mitchell
Oct 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror
In 1860 the vampire elite gathers at Castle Banat, deep in the Carpathian mountains. They are there for The Decanting, a ceremony in which a chosen few will drink the blood of The Golden, a virgin specially bred to produce an intoxicating, subtle vintage.

OK, this sound like the setup for a 1970's Eurotrash horror film, but Shepard's tale is in my limited reading the best vampire novel since Dracula. His vampires are the traditional variety susceptible to sunlight, fire, and wooden stakes, but
Oct 08, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some Amazing Writing in a Fantasy Vampire Novel Marred by Major Issues

I really wish I could give this book a higher rating.

Lucius Shepard is a very gifted writer.

His baroque descriptions of the labyrinthine grotesqueries of the huge vampire stronghold in Carpathia, Castle Banat, are worth the price of admission. He's kind of the Hieronymous Bosch of fantasy writing (I mean the bizarre medieval painter, not Michael Connolly's detective who's named after him).

I could live with his often purple
Lucius Shepard's "Green Eyes" gave us the first Lacanian faux-zombie existential romance--- a wonderful and wonderfully different kind of zombie tale. "The Golden" is his vampire tale, and while I liked it...or liked it in small's not "Green Eyes". There is something of "Anno Dracula" and "Empire of Fear" here--- the vampire society and its own culture and rituals ---as well as Peake's Gormenghast or any number of Gothick romances, with the characters encased in a surreal building ...more
Seizure Romero
This is one of the books that led to my vampire novel addiction (along with Anno-Dracula, The Book of Common Dread and Suckers). The Golden is a murder mystery, but one with a unique premise and an emphasis on the relationships and power struggles played out between vampires in the course of the investigation. It's a good story; it just happens to have vampires as the characters.
The Cat
Jun 16, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: vampires
I have the exact same feeling I had after reading Green Eyes. A good idea, but poorly executed. Shepard can't write. Like what the hell was all that metaphysical stuff? And the characters were flat as a pancake. I am not sure why, or how I finished this.
Nov 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, gothic
Weird. Garish, brillant, ludicrous, insane. To Excess.
The reviews aren't conveying how crazy half of this nightmare of a book is. The other half has a logical plot and they didn't always mix too well, as if the shiny parody of a fallen god had read the numinous recipe for a black swan curry backwards. Or something.

The first flowery chapters of The Golden are deceptive. Except for some details, it didn't seem it was a Shepard. Oh but it was!
The hero was all angsty about his relationship with the
May 30, 2018 rated it did not like it
Okay, so I found this one on Barnes & Noble’s The 10 Best Vampire Novels No One Has Read list, and seeing it in the same league as George R. R. Martin’s Fevre Dream lent it a certain air of promise. I was hyped!

... aaaaand I’ve never given up on a book so fast. The Golden seems like it’s trying to combine the sensuality of Anne Rice with the dry murder mysteries of Agatha Christie, but the two just don’t work side-by-side. You just can’t have a guy getting vague, overblown psychic
Glen Engel-Cox
Nov 15, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, horror
My original comparison for this book was Gene Wolfe writing an issue of Marvel Comics’ “Tomb of Dracula.” This is not a “mean” comparison. I tend to use Wolfe when I want to compare a someone to the pinnacle of excellent writing in a genre (I compare Wolfe himself to Jorge Luis Borges or William Shakespeare, depending on how effusive I’m feeling). And, as far as comics go, I liked “Tomb of Dracula.” But, on the other hand, I am damning Shepard with faint praise as well. AlthoughThe Goldenhas ...more
May 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
Very strange book, but extremely well written and incredibly interesting. It was recommended to me by a friend and I'm glad I read it. It started off a bit slow. It reminded me of The Picture of Dorian Gray as far as style and dialogue. At first, there didn't seem to be anything vampiric about it at all (other than the characters being vampires, obviously), but as it progressed, it was dark and haunting. I liked the philosophies presented and I think I will pick up a few more of Shepard's ...more
John W
Feb 23, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, vampires
The story centers around a gathering of vampires to perform a "decanting" of a human girl bred to produce the finest tasting blood, but the night before the decanting she is brutally murdered and it is up to a young vampire, who was a detective in his former life, to find out the culprit. Unfortunately the novel is too short and a lot of the intriguing stuff is only touched upon.
Jan 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Decadence, sweet decadence, thy stench permeates the pages of this book.
Nancy Moore
I have been seeking a really great vampire novel since I read Dracula by Bram Stoker and The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice. I still haven't found one. I won't recap the story, because the synopsis is sufficient for that. The book is full of purple prose. Where Bram Stoker and Anne Rice wrote beautiful, flowing prose, this book just tries too hard in my opinion. The descriptions of everything are too grandiose and try to weave in stream of consciousness, but the stream is so disjointed that it ...more
Feb 23, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I always feel some trepidation when reading my second work by an author after I liked the first, and that trepidation was magnified here: the blurb on the front of this book, "a sensual novel of vampires and blood lust," identifies The Golden by Lucius Shepard as not the type of book I usually read. I liked Shepard's Life During Wartime enough to try it, though, and it quickly becomes apparent that, despite the blurb, this isn't a work that would belong in a grocery store check-out line, or even ...more
Oct 10, 2017 rated it liked it
Imagine the following scenario – important vampires of Europe are gathering in old castle Banat in the middle of the 19th century for an event that's been in the making for the longest of time. So called Decanting where they'll partake in the finest blood that centuries of breeding and grooming can produce, contained in what is merely one mortal vessel – the Golden. Mark of prestige on its own, yet this gathering of immortals provides numerous other opportunities such as the ever-growing ...more
Rob Cook
May 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shepard was a brilliant craftsman of short stories, and excelled at novella-length works, and plot-wise The Golden would have worked beautifully as a novella - the story itself just doesn’t have the energy to fuel a whole novel, and is gasping a bit by the end. But then to make it work as a novella he’d have had to cut much of the descriptive writing about Castle Banat... and that would have been a real loss. Banat is the true protagonist of this book, an architectural nightmare-marvel of ...more
Jul 15, 2017 rated it liked it
Murder mystery set in a ginormous, psychedelic vampire castle. Yeah, another one. Yawn ;)

The most interesting thing about the book is the surreal tableaux Shepard creates when describing, for instance, the rooms of the castle; these have, if I'm being generous, echoes of Lynch and of Anna Kavan's 'Ice' in their bleak weirdness.

But there are things he does less well; the characters are never especially interesting, and the solution to the murder mystery was so obvious that even I solved it in the
Sep 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's a good vampire novel, although it possesses all the typical hollywoodesque elements of a novel of this sort, the plot and the genius of Shepard make it an intriguing and well crafted story.
At first I got a little disappointed because I felt the first chapters were so "sweet" and more like a young adults vampire story, but as the book goes further, you can see the Shepard's style, full of hallucinatory and monstrous delights. The descriptions and characters in castle Banat are amazing. A
Reed Roberts
Jul 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Golden by Lucius Shepard is a must read for those who enjoy vampire novels, espicially this one, that entails a mystery thriller. With that being said, this book is not recommended for anyone under the age of 18, sense it contains content not appropriate to all ages. I don't need to go into detail but I think you can understand where I am getting at here. Also being said, the author seems to engage with a couple of characters with whom have a disregard for Christianly. Taking a shot ...more
Chris Duval
Jul 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The novel is a perverse bildungsroman, one where the protagonist's psychological and moral changes are a maturation as a vampire, and his vestigial human distaste for what he is becoming of less and less concern. And the end is more redemptive than a reader might expect.

The novel's women vampires (and wannabe vampires) are too subordinate for my taste. Otherwise I have no criticisms. I was not put off by the horror, violence and hallucinatory sequences.

The scenery brought to mind Gothics that
May 06, 2019 rated it liked it
It’s certainly well written, with rich and lush descriptive prose, but the subject matter is pretty turgid and not quite my thing. It drags along in the second half and if it hadn’t been a short read I might not have bothered finishing it.
Bob Cairns
A fun trashy vampire book where the least interesting thing is the plot. This means that the end of the book falls flat because it doesn't involve any of the fun trashy stuff.
Oct 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Awesome! Beautifully written genre cocktail.
Signed/limited edition by Ziesings.
Jon goode
Aug 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful Vampire/ murder mystery

There are many books that flirt with the idea of Vampires. This book is no flirtation this book is a marriage to the concept.
Nov 28, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of dark fantasy
Shelves: read-2011
The aristocracy of vampires has gathered at the ancient fortress of Castle Banat in the Carpathian Mountains to argue politics and, for some, to partake of the Golden, a woman who has been bred to have blood of a particularly delectable and intoxicating quality. However, when the Golden is discovered murdered one evening, it falls on newly converted vampire Beheim, who was previously a police inspector, to seek out the culprit. He soon learns that this investigation will be like none he ...more
I liked so many aspects of this book, but I'm not sure I liked it as a whole. Many of the scenes were interesting or thought provoking, but the main plot/moral was kind of lame. (view spoiler)

It read very much like a Vampire: The Requiem game or a character backstory for Michel (our main character). This caused me to roll my eyes a few times, but was not too distracting. Bloodlines! Clans! Backstabbing! It's classic Vampire, just with
Jan 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
From the first line to the last the prose is entrancing; a delicious blend of descriptive and declarative writing that superbly evokes not only the nature of the vampiric protagonists but also the fantastical Castle Banat within which this extraordinary tale unfolds. It will draw you in and, in all likelihood; you’ll find yourself so hooked that you will find it difficult to extricate yourself from the almost mesmeric pull of its pages.

It’s a story with seemingly disparate elements that Shepard
Kyle Muntz
May 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book is a gothic dream--like a distorted echo of Peake (the setting is especially reminiscent of a much darker Gormenghast) shot through with notes of Bataille, Kafka, Lynch, and maybe even a Borgesian labyrinth. I wasn't sure what to expect since this is my first time reading Lucius Shepard. He's definitely writing to entertain--this is a murder mystery where most of the characters are vampires after all--but at the same time, it's an impressive piece of almost imagist storytelling, with ...more
Oct 13, 2010 rated it liked it
From across the world, the vampire clans are gathering. Then there's a murder and it's up to a novice vampire, that used to be a police detective to wade through all the political intrigue, dozens of suspects and clues to solve it.
It's a 30's noir detective story set in the middle of an Anne Rice vampire novel.

Very clever, with a decently constructed mythology, but because it all takes place in this secluded gathering place , full of vampires, it all feels a bit dream-like and surreal. This
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Brief biographies are, like history texts, too organized to be other than orderly misrepresentations of the truth. So when it's written that Lucius Shepard was born in August of 1947 to Lucy and William Shepard in Lynchburg, Virginia, and raised thereafter in Daytona Beach, Florida, it provides a statistical hit and gives you nothing of the difficult childhood from which he frequently attempted to ...more
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