Science fiction and fantasy                                            

Blood Oath

by Christopher Farnsworth


What could be more exciting than a vampire story? How about vampires in the White House, monsters threatening the President, and a bold terrorist plot masterminded by a crazy immortal? In Christopher Farnsworth's thriller Nathaniel Cade is a vampire who defends the USA and the President against a hidden world of horrors: werewolves, other vampires, and all the other things that go bump in the night. This is a book that subscribes wholeheartedly to the idea that more monsters are always better.

Zach Barrows is an ambitious young man. In spite of some recent indiscretions he's risen quickly in politics and he expects to rise still further. He's used to public life. So when he's assigned to work with Cade in a top-secret role he couldn't be more disappointed, because it offers none of the glory he's accustomed to. Zach doesn't make a good first impression either, and he feels like he's hopelessly ill-suited to his new job.

Meanwhile in Kuwait a spoilt drop-out with rich parents is getting used to working as a driver, and like Zach he feels it's the wrong role for him. Dylan is lazy, and he thinks he's above this kind of menial work. When his friend Khaled gets him involved in a religious group Dylan is more than ready to listen to them explain why he's been so hard done by. But he doesn't understand why their plans for putting things right involve appropriating so many missing body parts of deceased soldiers.

With werewolves, special forces, a super-secret secret service branch and various terrorists and supernaturals, the story isn't short of lead and adrenaline. It's a measure of how masculine this book is that there are no female characters of note in the first 100 pages. Then we're introduced to Tania, a vampire who turns up with a warning for Cade which she delivers in a typically over-aggressive way. Dialogue in Blood Oath brims with macho posturing.

This story ranges from fast-paced to extremely gory and shocking. It's the kind of novel that would make an expensive but arresting movie with lots of weird visual effects, and there are a few unforgettable images. Unfortunately the characters are often too stereotypical to be intriguing. Dylan is too much of a loser lacking in self-control. Helen Holt, a shady employee of the even shadier Company who we meet later on in the story, is far too scheming and manipulative to be believable. And Konrad, the haughty scientist who seems to have discovered a formula to keep himself immortal, is too mad, psychopathic, and fond of making speeches. He actually says "I'm not really the mustache-twirling type," (page 261), but in fact he does a lot of gloating, and he's so evil he even carries around a treasured copy of Mein Kampf. Trusting westerners who have grown complacent because everything has been handed to them turn up regularly, and although these characters are sometimes a little obvious they do add a bit more depth to the narrative.

Since the characters are all quite transparent there isn't a great deal of mystery about how the plot will pan out. Blood Oath is high octane yet pretty straightforward. It abound with blood and monsters, and chapter 50 features one of the most soulless sex scenes I've ever read. Yet aside from a little info-dumping at the beginning when Zach first learns about Cade, the story is always tense and fast-moving. It's an explosive romp, but it's a shame the characters aren't more rounded and interesting.

6th June 2011

Book Details

Year: 2010

Categories: Books

  Not For The Squeamish  

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3 star rating

Review © Ros Jackson