May 13, 2018

Dracula, and What We Think of Him

Which one image makes you relate to Dracula?


After all he is a huge market attraction for Transylvania and Romania, he has since his book became popular helped make Transylvania a tourist attraction for the tourist with a little... blood lust.  The book by Bram Stoker allowed the idea of Dracula to "live" on in the Western world, and when money comes in then people want to follow it.  Yet, the man, the person who Stoker based the character on is something of a mystery.  In many ways he is not as important a figure as what some will make him out to be. At best a exiled Prince, and at worst a bloodthirsty warlord.  Vlad Tepes is however all the more famous due to Stoker's novel.


This image isn't what one would normally think of as Dracula, after all, it has a different garb, more of a small prince, and one who had seen much intrigue and murder.  Tepes was a younger son of a Prince of Wallachia and was not a Count of Transylvania, but he lived large parts of his life in Transylvania, so perhaps he is more linked to his exiled land than one would think.

We like to think of Vlad Tepes as a great warrior.  This is only partly true, he fought against the Ottoman Empire, but he also fought against the Christian Kingdom of Hungary.  He was imprisoned by both groups, and would learn the art of fear from the time he spent in the Ottoman Empire.

Many people think Vlad Tepes was powerful.  In the sense he was born a prince, this is true as many people didn't have any power and were living much poorer and forgotten lives.  History doesn't record them as much.  Tepes could be viewed based on some writing has a bully, and this was also based upon the writings of various people who lived and were targeted by him.  The people with whom he protected view him differently and both played a part in how we see Count Dracula.



These are images of Vlad Tepes, and the one just above is possibly the more interesting of the two-- this image shows a bit of his name. Vladislavs Dracula Wallachia Weywoden.  Because Vlad Tepes had been a part of the order of the Dragon, he had the name of "Dracula" at the end of his name. Vlad Tepes is someone who made Dracula possibly, but of course he was not the only person. There are others who influenced the person of Count Dracula- notably a distant cousin of Tepes, a woman who would bath in blood to keep her youth.

The power of Dracula is part of both history and fiction, and the two have helped a country with money and a long term tourist attraction.  Bran Castle, for example, is more linked with Count Dracula and Jonathan Harker, the two fictional characters who conversed in a castle similar to Bran Castle.  Most people don't think of these images of Dracula being Dracula, and they also see him not as a man- rather, a legend.


That is the power of writing and of history.

February 27, 2018

Blood Countess, and Dracula

What is the fascination with Dracula? 


I don't think most people really know Transylvania, Romania, or its long history with legends and other people, when they talk about Dracula.  However, that being said, digging within the history of Hungary, there is someone else who might just fit the "vampire" persona much better.

By this, the vampire persona, I mean the reference to Dracula drinking blood.  The quest for immortality and the evil results it can bring.  This is especially true of people in power.  Many centuries ago there was a woman who was a royal blood living in Transylvania.

She was known to history-- local history-- as the Blood Countess, or . She feared death or at least the loss of her beauty. To keep it she killed (according to some reports) 600 girls to keep her youth.

Why do we not mention her? 

I write about this, and the fact that because Dacre Stoker (great grand nephew of Bram Stoker) wrote another Dracula book, entitled, Dracula: Undead.  It has been published for many years, but upon re-reading it I have some new feelings.  I don't think he knows much about Transylvania or Romania, although I am sure he's visited it, or knows of the area.  he is passionate about the Stoker name, or more specifically, the Stoker brand linking it to Dracula.  One thing I am certain of: he does however know a lot about marketing.

In this book The Countess of the Blood is the main antagonist.  It's rather fitting in a way that over the years both Count Dracula and Bathory have sought immortality.  However, it is for different reasons and different means that they have done this, and in the end, it's a rather bittersweet moment for all of the characters.  It tries to make Dracula a lot more sympathetic but also it tries to increase interest in our fascination with Dracula.

If Dracula is supposed to be from Transylvania why focus on London?


I think in this case, the younger Stoker wanted to mimic, with limited success, his great-grand uncles' later success.  One must recall that the first book, Dracula was not a success during Bram Stoker's lifetime.  It was the advent of Hollywood and movies, which helped him, or rather his widow, see his book become a success.

Dacre Stoker has argued that his novel was written to re-establish the Stoker name and creative control over the novels of Dracula.  In a sense, he brought too much to the table and not enough backstory to it.  The Blood Countess did not need to be in the book, and she wasn't as strong as one would have thought.

The real blood countess wanted her beauty and would do anything for it.  In this regard, the Blood Countess and Dracula had different motives, and even in their own lives, had different motives for the thing that they did.  The same goes for the land they lived in, and played a role in many of the castles and people there.  Even then, the more famous, Bran Castle has a focus on Hollywood and Dracula as opposed to other parts of the land of Romania and Transylvania.

The world has changed and the focus is on the myths that Hollywood has for these two people.

January 14, 2018

Bran Castle LEGO

I'll admit I love all things Lego.

Though for the longest time I was rather stumped as to how I could mix my love for Lego with my love for Transylvania and add it to this blog.  It's a big of a challenge, but I finally found some really great ideas.  One of them was a build by a Lego lover who would create Bran Castle out of Lego.

Not Dracula's castle, mind you, but the real thing, the one which I can go and visit in Transylvania (for a fee) and take pictures of and just imagine the people and lives lived around there.  I wanted something that would be amazing, and different at the same time....

However, before I found what I was looking for, I did enjoy finding, and it all started with monsters.


I was a bit wary of looking at this, after all, I've seen the official lego version of the Vampyre Castle on Amazon, and I'm a fan of it, for different reasons than my newest love of lego and details.  Maybe because it's the focus on Dracula, even with the Vampyre hearse, so it's a bit of a nod to Bram Stocker's Dracula, and it's cute and has enough pieces to enjoy it, and it's part of a series.

Monster Fighters, as the series is known as gives Dracula his due- in Lego, and combined at around 1,200 pieces I enjoyed the process of making Dracula, and the fighters, and the castle come to life.  I enjoyed the challenge and the time it took to make both.

I do recommend both sets, but at least the hearse is a fast one to build and really one that sort of puts two undead monsters together (Zombie and Dracula.)  I was a bit disappointed that it was Rodney Rathborne, and not some play on Abraham Van Helsing.  However, as much as this was fun to build, it wasn't quite what I had in mind.

I enjoyed the mythos they have created, but I wanted something closer to Bran Castle.  Closest thing I found often times was the 3D puzzle, and while it was fun to create a model in 3D it wasn't.... Lego.

I was able to find that someone had built Bran Castle, along with many photos, and this was amazing to me.  You can find the website here, and he has built many other lego castles in great detail as well. The thing I liked about it was that it combined both the history and the story of Bran Castle.

It gave a very good idea about Transylvania, as it showed the hills around the castle, and had parts of the inside of it done in Lego.  This was nearly 1,400 pieces and it is quite impressive.  It made my lego lover heart feel good, and it almost makes me want to do my own in greater detail.  The bonus?  On the website he does offer floor plans, so it allows one to let their imagination soar.

Ahh, yes Lego and Bran Castle, who could ask for more... except maybe, more details- the villages, and the trees and a few knights.