"The Golden is a lushly decadent novel, filled with sudden violence, disturbing sensuality, complex relationships, and altered states of perception. The prose is gorgeously sumptuous, and the tale is a multiflavoured feast of rich emotions."
— Claude Lalumière, Locus online
In the 1860s, the Family — secret aristocratic clans of vampires — gathers from across Europe at Castle Banat. Their centuries-long breeding program has finally produced "the Golden," a mortal of perfect, powerful blood. The Family has come to participate in the ritual Decanting, to drink this sublime elixir of the Golden, and to "judge" her as one of their own. But before the clans can partake in the ceremony, the Golden is found brutally murdered, her blood drained.
Michael Beheim, former Parisian chief of detectives, and now a member of the Family himself, is assigned the task of tracking down the killer among the clans. Though Beheim believes he can solve this murder as he has done for so many other crimes in the past, he soon realizes that his skills alone may not be sufficient: Only two years a vampire, Beheim must interrogate clans members who have developed powers and skills honed for centuries, who have formed alliances and love affairs among themselves — some of whom choose not to cooperate with Beheim and thus become his deadly enemies. As the former detective pursues his investigation, he unintentionally embarks upon a path of self-discovery — distancing himself from his former life with the one he must now "live" as a member of the Family, understanding his perceived love for his human servant Giselle and his growing love for Lady Alexandra, a vampire of questionable ethics whom Beheim is relunctantly forced to trust. His path leads him to a confrontation with the fearsome Patriarch of the Family, whose cooperation Beheim elicits in a plot to snare the killer. Ultimately, future possibilities are revealed that may alter forever the Family of vampires.
With Castle Banat, author Lucius Shepard has created a "character" of immense proportion and complexity, in which labyrinthine passages, rooms of terrible wonder, bridges and flying buttresses abound — whose design is based upon the work of Italian etcher, archeologist, and architect Giovanni Piranesi (1720-1778).
Part police procedural, part thriller, part gothic romance, The Golden, winner of the Locus Award for Best Horror Novel of the Year, eschews the trite and cliché-driven story typical of contemporary vampire fiction. Shepard has produced an original vampire story as wondrous, as sensuous, as terrifying as the castle itself.
Cover art by J. K. Potter.
"Shepard's understated eroticism and his interspersed polemics on the 'inhuman' condition add flair and substance to this remarkable book."
"Clark Ashton Smith would have envied Shepard such exoticism and eroticism . . . The Golden is, however implausibly, an original vampire novel."
— Nick Gevers, Parsec
Trade Paperback, ISBN: 1-930846-38-X
Out of Print!
Read Paul Goat Allen's review in Barnes and Noble's Explorations e-newsletter
Note — The following three reviews refer to the original 1993 hardcover edition:
Read the Publishers Weekly review
Read the Booklist review
Read Nick Gever's review in Parsec
View the full-color cover art by J. K. Potter