On The CW’s hit series The Vampire Diaries, Paul Wesley explores the “life” (undead life?) of the vampire Stefan Salvatore. The series is based on books by L.J. Smith, and with the success of the show (now in it’s second season) Smith, Kevin Williamson (writer and executive producer for TVD) and Julie Plec (writer and executive producer for TVD) decided to give fans a taste of Stefan’s background.

the vampire diaries originsYou might wonder if the original books don’t already cover his background, and they do. But the TV series has changed a significant amount of the facts, that Stefan’s entire background was able to be re-written. Stefan’s Diaries: Origins is the first in a trilogy of books that will explore Stefan’s past. It serves as a prequel for The Vampire Diaries TV series. Being a big Vampire Diaries fan, I decided to give it a read and see what they had Stefan up to back in the 1860’s.

This novel is set back in the Civil War, and our writer’s keep us informed that it’s a very real thing going on. Stefan is the brother who choose not to join the war, and Damon is the brother who has deserted it – much to his father’s chagrin. I learned that Stefan was so robotically programmed to please his father in any way, that he actually agreed to an arranged marriage. An arranged marriage to an awful, horrible girl named Rosalyn who has a tiny dog. (She reminded me of a modern day Paris Hilton.)

As a human, Stefan was meek, and almost a wimp. He respects authority, and he does as he’s told. And, as a human, Damon is a rebel. Like we’ve learned on the show – human personalities and traits are magnified when someone is transformed into a vampire. This parallels nicely with how we know Stefan and Damon to be now in 2010/2011. Stefan still respects authority and likes to follow rules. Damon still loves breaking them. And both of them can still find themselves doing strange things for the love of a special girl.

Description’s of how Stefan, Damon and Katherine all interacted back in the day are flushed out even more than the flashbacks viewers saw on the show in season 1. Some instances that we did see on the show are actually written about, and it’s fun to match them up in your head as you read.

This book is completely focused on backing up the television series. You’ll be introduced to Pearl, Anna, and Jonathan Gilbert for the first time.

The character of Katherine is written to make her much tamer, but I suspect that’s how Stefan always viewed her. You can hear actress Nina Dobrev’s voice (as Katherine) saying certain lines, especially the way Katherine calls the boys names like “Sweet Stefan” and “Dangerous Damon.” I would have liked to see more deviousness in Katherine, as she’s quite the badass killer on the show.

After reading this book, I felt like re-watching season 1 of The Vampire Diaries to check something, because it seemed like Stefan was written differently than how Wesley was made to act out the scene where Katherine drinks vervain from him. On the show, he seems broken up about this and has to be dragged away. In the book, he is completely disgusted by what she is and doesn’t care if Katherine is murdered. That’s a pretty big difference, and that surprised me quite a bit. But, what is TVD if not surprising?

Follow up Stefan’s Diaries: Origins with Stefan’s Diaries: Bloodlust and Stefan’s Diaries: The Craving. For TVD fans who crave flashbacks in their episodes, this is almost better.

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