Science fiction and fantasy
by Christopher Farnsworth
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
If you like this, try:The Night Eternal by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan
The last remnants of mankind battle to defeat the vampire plague whilst staying true to their humanity. The third part of The Strain trilogy.
The Fall by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan
Vampires threaten the future of the human race in this sequel to The Strain.
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