Buffy The Vampire Slayer The Lost Slayer is set during Season 4 of the television show, and is separated into 4 volumes written by Christopher Golden. The stories focus on the aftermath of Giles’ kidnapping by a new group of vampires that worship the Bat God Camazotz. Buffy is thrown ahead five years when Sunnydale is under vampire control by the new leader of the vampires, Rupert Giles.
Having read Spike and Dru: Pretty Maids All in a Row I was keen to see what the writer of that book Christopher Golden was going to give us in this story, The Lost Slayer.
I was not disappointed...but first let me bring you up to speed...
Initially Buffy, whilst in her freshman year, decides to take charge of her own life and do everything herself in order to be master of everything in her life. Unfortunately she ends up isolating herself from those closest to her, and her problems further escalate when new vampires, with bat tattoos across their faces and glowing orange eyes, arrive in town.
The story then jumps ahead to a time when Buffy has been imprisoned in a cell and rotting for five years and vampires rule Sunnydale. She escapes her captors and discovers that her friends are struggling against the growing masses of vampires. Faith returned to help fight the good fight hoping to redeem herself with Spike and Drusilla taking orders from Vampire Giles now.
All of the best characters from the Buffy universe appear and the fact that it is Giles that is the key big bad in this story is inspired.
The Lost Slayer books do not fall into the trap of making the first book good, the middle books more about just filling, and the last book good. Each book is as thrilling to read as Buffy plunges deeper into the world Giles has created during her absence. The characters that are so crucial to the Buffyverse are all present, and correct. During her absence the main characters have evolved, Xander has lost his humour becoming harder, Willow is a powerful sorceress and Oz now has the ability to change into a werewolf whenever he chooses. Vampire Giles’ plans for the world and for Buffy in particular all have a warped echo of the man Buffy once looked to as a father-figure.
Golden successfully writes a great saga which explores the world around the Slayer. Too often in the series Buffy tells everyone that she doesn’t need any help because she is the Slayer and yet the only reason that Buffy has lived as long as she has is because of her friends. She would have died at the hands of the Master in Season 1 if Xander had not been around to give her mouth to mouth.
Buffy’s attempts to reconnect with her friends after her absence are also especially difficult after she learns the fate of her own mother along with Anya. None of them are who they once were and all of them resent Buffy because it had been her attitude by trying to do everything herself that lead to Giles being captured and the events that have caused the ruin of Sunnydale.
This is how books should be written, carefully thought out, creative, interesting and evolving the characters but remaining faithful to who they used to be. Parker (remember the douche that Buffy slept with after Angel left?) he appears briefly and is one of the few people who has surrendered himself to the vampires so they leave him alone. This demonstrates that characters we saw in the show who didn’t know about vampires and the like have found ways of surviving in the new world that Giles is creating.
The Lost Slayer is an excellent series of books which have been approved by Joss Whedon (or at least his office) so that it can be considered canon. The notion of Giles becoming a vampire is a stroke of genius, taking Giles’ knowledge, expertise and love for Buffy and twisting them into something evil is a delight to read. I did not want to put this book down, and read it into the small hours of the morning because I wanted to know what was going to happen next...the payoff regarding what has happened to Angel is also brilliantly twisted and fits with the notion that as someone who was once tortured by Angelus, Giles would find his own form of revenge now that he has become a vampire.
There are many examples of Buffy books which talk about the Slayer hunting this demon or that demon, whilst she tries to have a normal life. The Lost Slayer books show that it was her own arrogance when Giles was kidnapped that resulted in the hell Sunnydale as now descended into.
Possibly the only downside is the ending, it is a little bit of a cop-out. This is not a "what if" story, it features time travel and Buffy learning a lesson about what happens if she continues to do everything alone. Naturally she is able to return to the past (or present depending on how you look at it) and change the bleak future she witnessed. So whilst a bit of a weak ending it is still a great story and a MUST-READ for any one who calls themselves a Buffy fan
This book is a treat to read, it is easily one of the best Buffy books, hell it is one of the best books that I have read. It has everything that you want, the characters are interesting, the story is brilliant and the enemy is magnificent.
All in all The Lost Slayer is awarded a well deserved Thumbs Up
9/10 - When done right a Buffy book can be a wonderful thing, which makes the audience laugh and makes them cry. Sadly really well-crafted stories are difficult to come by; however, The Lost Slayer is a glorious example of a story that could (and should) have been made into a television movie or even been part of the series canon.