Horror October: Rinn’s Guide to True Blood (or the Sookie Stackhouse novels)

Posted 15 October, 2013 by Rinn in Misc. / 3 Comments

Hello lovely readers. Many a time in the past, I’ve spoken about the True Blood/Sookie Stackhouse series of novels, written by Charlaine Harris, so I thought I’d do a guide for those of you out there who don’t know much about it. I will clearly label all spoilers (which will be separate from the main part of the text) and sometimes things may be more subjective than factual… like how I feel about Eric’s face. And body. But I will try to enlighten you about this great series, and why it blows all those other vampire-based books out of the water (only partly through the medium of gifs…). There are some large differences between the later books and TV series, and I’ll try to make these clear!

First things first. The series comprises of thirteen books all set in the fictional Louisiana town of Bon Temps, with occasional excursions to Baton Rouge, Monroe and other states such as Mississippi and Texas. The books are told from the point of view of one Miss Sookie Stackhouse, waitress and telepath.

Yep, she’s a telepath. Poor ol’ Sookie has the misfortune of being able to hear the thoughts of others – which may sound pretty cool, but when you do the sort of job she does, you hear many not entirely sober thoughts that you maybe didn’t want to know. As you can imagine, this is quite distracting, and as a result she’s gained a bit of a reputation for being crazy. She also hasn’t had much experience with guys – being able to hear their every thought does not a romantic setting make.

Delicious. (image source)


But there are certain types of people that Sookie can’t hear the thoughts of. Vampires, not at all; shapeshifters, weres and other supernatural beings, barely. In the True Blood world, supernatural beings walk among us, vampires having recently ‘come out of the coffin’ when Japanese scientists successfully created synthetic blood, allowing them to live alongside humans without having to drink from them. Not that it stops some…


Oh, and there’s a lot of violence and gore. And sex.


The series pretty much follows the life of Sookie and her supernatural acquaintances, whom I shall now introduce. Sit down, grab a hot beverage (or a glass of True Blood perhaps) and buckle in… it’s going to be a long post.




The main protagonist of the series, Sookie Stackhouse is strong-willed and fiercely independent. A telepath, she can hear the thoughts of others and as a result finds it difficult to make friends – her only true human friends at the beginning of the series are Arlene Fowler and Tara Thornton. She works as a waitress at Merlotte’s Bar and Grill, owned by her friend Sam Merlotte.

In the very first book, shortly after vampires are revealed as real, Sookie saves the life of a vampire named Bill, who later goes on to become her boyfriend. Bill is her first love – but it doesn’t last. She dates several ‘supes’, including Eric Northman (vampire), Alcide Herveaux (werewolf) and Quinn (weretiger).


She has a witty narrative voice, and is an intelligent young woman, determined to make a good future for herself. When she was just a small child, her parents were killed in a flood and she has lived with her grandmother ever since, in a ramshackle old farmhouse that has been passed down the family for generations.


View Spoiler »

Rinn’s opinion: Sookie is badass. Well, until the ninth or tenth book – then she gets kind of boring. But honestly, she is a female protagonist that knows she doesn’t need a male in her life to make her happy, and sometimes she gives into her more primal instincts. So basically, she’s human (… or is she? *laughs evilly*)

Sookie is portrayed by Anna Paquin in the TV series.


A true Southern gentleman, Bill Compton is the first vampire Sookie meets – and her first love. Born in 1840, he fought for the South in the Civil War and was made a vampire twenty-eight years later. He returned to Bon Temps after vampires became public, to trace his descendants.

Bill is very caring of Sookie when they are in a relationship, but she gets frustrated by all the time he spends working on a project – a catalogue of all the vampires in North America. He later reveals something to Sookie that truly ends their relationship, but clearly still harbours feelings for her throughout the books. Bill is the official investigator for the local area – vampires have a strict hierarchy in this series, with various sheriffs across a state, and a king or queen of each state on top of them.


View Spoiler »

Rinn’s opinion: Eh, I’m not a big Bill fan. Especially TV-Bill. I find him kind of boring and a bit of jerk later on. I do like his accent though…

Bill is portrayed by Stephen Moyer in the TV series.


Eric Northman, at over 1000 years old, is one of the most powerful vampires in the Bon Temps area. He was originally from Sweden, the son of a Jarl, and is commonly referred to as a ‘blonde viking’ by Sookie. He is the sheriff of Area 5 in Louisiana, which includes Bon Temps and Shreveport, where Eric runs his very own vampire bar, Fangtasia.

His progeny is Pam, a dry-witted and sultry vampire lady, who helps him run Fangtasia. Eric and Pam have a very close relationship, and it is often around Pam that Eric shows a more tender side.


In the fourth book, Eric suffers from amnesia as part of a witches’ curse, and Sookie ends up looking after him. He is reduced to a defenceless child, nothing like his former self – he is sweet and caring, and during this time he has a brief romance with Sookie.


Eric is also officially the hottest vampire in the entire state of Louisiana. Fact.

View Spoiler »

Rinn’s opinion: No, the above was not my opinion. It’s fact. Very factual. I gladly accept that it is fact. Eric is my favourite. Yum yum. I like his cheeky sense of humour, how he always seems to say something deadly serious and then you see this little glint in his eye and know he’s joking. Plus it amuses me that despite the fact that he is one thousand years old, and has lived (questionable… un… lived?) through so much, sometimes things like technology and modern inventions baffle him.


Eric is portrayed by Alexander Skarsgard in the TV series.


Pam Swynford de Beaufort is the vampire progeny and business partner of Eric Northman. She was born in London, and met Eric there in 1905, when he turned her. However, in the TV series she is shown as the madam of a Chicago brothel.

Incredibly loyal to Eric, and willing to die for him, she often covers up her true feelings with dry wit and sarcasm. Initially she looks down on Sookie, but eventually they grow close, Sookie even referring to Pam as the closest thing to a vampire friend she has (apart from her vampire lovers of course). 

In contrast to her demeanour, she often dresses like a surburban housewife in pastel colours – when she’s not wearing her ‘vampire’ gear for her shifts at Fangtastia.

View Spoiler »

Rinn’s opinion: I love Pam, she’s so wonderfully sarky and has a really dark sense of humour. Plus in the book she has a sort of admiration/liking for Sookie, and tries hard to hide it – it’s pretty cute.


Pam is portrayed by Kristin Bauer van Straten in the TV series. Swynford de Beaufort is actually her surname in the TV series – in the books it is in fact ‘Ravenscroft’. I remembered too late!


Alcide Herveaux is a werewolf from Shreveport, who owns a surveying company with his father, Jackson Herveaux. When Sookie first meets him, he is Sookie’s ‘protection’ during a mission. He has also just recently gone through a breakup with a woman named Debbie Pelt, who has it out for Sookie…

There is definite chemistry between Alcide and Sookie, but the presence of his on-off girlfriend makes things difficult. However, Sookie and Alcide help each other out many times throughout the series, including Alcide’s run for packleader.

Physically he is a very large man: muscly and well over six foot. He also has a habit of growling, even in human form.

View Spoiler »

Rinn’s opinion: I think I prefer TV-Alcide to book-Alcide. Although we get some of his back story through Sookie in the book, we actually get to see a lot more in the TV series.

Alcide is portrayed by Joe Manganiello in the TV series.


Jason Stackhouse is Sookie’s older brother, a well-known womaniser in the town of Bon Temps, and not particularly blessed in intelligence. However he more than makes up for this in the kindness of his ways, and is always looking out for his younger sister.

He works on the parish road crew in Bon Temps, and lives in his parents old house.

View Spoiler »

Rinn’s opinion: Totally the kind of guy I would avoid, but when you see him with Sookie he’s really a sweetie at heart. And in the TV series he turns into a bit of a badass. But just a little bit.


Jason is portrayed by Ryan Kwanten in the TV series.


Sookie’s best friend since childhood, Tara Thornton has had a hard life. Abused by her parents, she often ran to Sookie’s house to get away, so sees Sookie almost as a sister.

Book-Tara and TV-Tara differ quite a bit. Although both have had a traumatic childhood, book-Tara runs her own shop called Tara’s Togs, whereas TV-Tara has trouble keeping down a job and ends up doing occasional bar work at Merlotte’s.


Tara has several troubled relationships throughout the series, including one with a controlling vampire, but finally ends up in a happy one, as she deserves, later on.


TV-Tara is a much more interesting character than book-Tara – we get to learn so much more about her. Lafayette, the cook at Merlotte’s and her cousin in the TV series,  is very close with Tara.

View Spoiler »

Rinn’s opinion: TV-Tara is way more fun! I’m glad they developed her character and I love the dynamic between her and Lafayette.


Tara is portrayed by Rutina Wesley in the TV series.


Sam Merlotte is the owner of Merlotte’s, a popular bar and grill located in the town of Bon Temps, Louisiana. He is Sookie’s boss, and there is some chemistry between them, but neither really act on it.

Sam also happens to be a shapeshifter, meaning he can take on the form of any animal, but his favourite is the border collie. He uses his heightened senses as a dog to track down several people, including murderers.

In the TV show, he has a brief relationship with Tara.

View Spoiler »

Rinn’s opinion: Sam is such a sweetie and I often end up feeling sorry for him; he’s rather downtrodden. I just want a happy ending for him (I haven’t read the last book yet).


Sam is portrayed by Sam Trammell in the TV series.



The fictional town of Bon Temps, Louisiana, is home to nearly 3,000 people – including a host of vampires, werewolves and other supernatural beings. It is not too far from Shreveport, and comes under vampire Area 5 – Eric Northman being the Sheriff of the area. Notable Bon Temps families include the Stackhouses, the Fortenberrys, the Comptons and the Bellefleurs.


Merlotte’s Bar and Grill is a popular establishment located in Bon Temps, Louisiana. Owned by Sam Merlotte, it is a frequent destination for locals and visitors to the area. Employees include Sookie Stackhouse, Arlene Fowler, Tara Thornton (TV series) and Lafeyette Reynolds.



Fangtasia – ‘Life Begins At Night‘ – is the popular vampire nightclub owned by Eric Northman. It is located in Shreveport, and there is a strict no biting policy enforced. The local vampires take it in turns to make appearances, to draw in humans. Pam Swynford de Beaufort/Ravenscroft is also a business partner.



Sookie Stackhouse’s ramshackle farmhouse, passed down through generations of Stackhouses, is located a little ways out of Bon Temps, along the Hummingbird Road. She lives beside the local cemetery, and her closest neighbour is Bill Compton.



I hope that I have at least piqued your interest in the series – or if you’ve already read/watched it, that this was a fun read! And would you look at that, I managed to almost completely avoid using gifs!

Damnit Sam!


Here are the books available in the series:
There are also a lot of other short story compilations containing stories featuring Sookie – but here I’ve just listed the books where Charlaine Harris was the only/main author.
 
And what about the TV series?
There are currently six seasons (the sixth is airing now), and there will be a seventh and final  series. The first three or four series use main plotlines from the book – in fact series one is very loyal – but it really changes things after that. Several characters are pretty different: for example Tara has a much larger part, Lafayette is Tara’s cousin in the TV series but not the books (he’s also a more frequently recurring character), characters are added or omitted. One of Sookie’s love interests, Quinn the weretiger, has not yet appeared in the TV series. It also has the most amazing soundtrack ever, plus some of my favourite TV opening credits.
 

So that’s all for this post! Let me know if you’ve read the books, watched the show and what you think – or perhaps I’ve persuaded you to try it out? I’ve still got to read book thirteen, and watch series six myself.

 
Eric (and Rinn) out.

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3 responses to “Horror October: Rinn’s Guide to True Blood (or the Sookie Stackhouse novels)

  1. I loved this post!! It’s a great introduction to the book and the TV series – and also helped me to remember a few things about the books that I forgot. 🙂 I can’t believe you haven’t read the last book yet though – are you nervous about it? Or sad to get to the end? Oh and do you feel like you have a preference for which you like better – TV or book series?

    • Thanks Charlene! =) I just haven’t managed to get hold of it yet – I’d rather buy it in paperback. I’m nervous and really trying to avoid spoilers, though I’ll be sad too.
      I’m not sure which I prefer. I love seeing the books come to life in the series and they’ve done a fantastic job, but they also left some really fun stories out of the TV show. I guess I see them as totally different things in a way.

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