I Strahd: The Memoirs of a Vampire by P.N. Elrod is the third book in the recently re-released Ravenloft series. Wizards of the Coast is calling this the Ravenloft Covenant and going back and re-releasing the books that many of us loved. The Ravenloft line was discontinued several years ago, but with the rise in Dark Fantasy novels WotC appears to be giving it another shot, and I for one, am very glad they are. The two books to be released prior to this one are; Death of a Darklord and Vampire of the Mist.
This book is written in somewhat of a first person perspective and follows Strahd Von Zarovich as he begins his rule over Barovia. Ms. Elrod does a very good job of allowing the reader to begin to understand Strahd. No longer is he the heartless, evil, devil that we read about in Vampire of the Mist (and other Ravenloft books). Now, he has substance and meaning behind some of the choices he made in his life. It all culminates with a pact he makes, for better or worse, and how that pact changes his life forever. In some fantasy books, character development takes a back seat to hack-n-slash kill the monster type scenes. Yet, in this book Ms. Elrod devotes a great deal of time to Strahd the character and how he became who he is.
The plot of this book is wonderfully constructed. If you have read Vampire of the Mist you know how this book will end. Yet, that does nothing to diminish the journey of this book. The Pact with Death that Strahd makes is the pinnacle of this book, but by no means is it the only event of importance within the pages. Elrod does a wonderful job of allowing the reader to not only see inside the life of Strahd before his pact, but to allow the reader to, at times, root for Strahd. This book is basically comprised of events in Strahd's life that made him who he is. He is a very calculating person, but the pact he made was impulsive and made for love and beauty. I don't want to say too much and spoiler this for anyone, if you have even a remote interest in this book, do yourself a favor and read it. You won't be disappointed.
This is a very easy book to read, and goes by insanely fast. It quickly became hard for me to put down. Ms. Elrod has a knack for telling you just enough information that you can make your own conclusions about some events. Later in the book she allows you to really feel the angst that Strahd is going through. I would without a doubt recommend this book to many many people. If you are a fan of fantasy books and have yet to read any Ravenloft this book and Vampire of the Mist should be read right away. If you are not a fan of fantasy, but are considering reading this vampire book, give it a shot. It is a very fun and enjoyable read.