Blood Oath by Christopher Farnsworth
Review by Jasper de Joode
There are worse things in this world than al-Qaeda and North Korea, Zach. And they are just waiting for their chance at us. Sharp and ambitious, Zach Barrows is on his way up. But when he gets a call from the White House, it’s not quite the promotion he expected. Zach is to be the new political liaison officer to America’s best kept secret: Nathaniel Cade. The President’s vampire. And Cade is the world’s only hope against a horrifying new terrorist threat advancing from the Middle East. The fight is deadlier than ever, and time is running out…
I had, like many people, been put off vampire novels by Stephenie Meyer. I tried Twilight and couldn’t get through it, the same too with the works of Charlaine Harris (Southern Vampire series). After that I had not so much as glanced at a vampire novel until Christopher Farnsworth’s Blood Oath appeared on the scene and – from the blurb - it appeared that the contents were likely to be more action-based than the romance-inspired young adult vampire novels which have been so popular of late. This is exactly what I am looking for in a vampire novel. So I gave Blood Oath a try, and I liked it a lot. I still won’t give Twilight another go though. Indeed, Blood Oath contained a brilliant passage that gently pokes fun at the majority of recent vampire fiction:
"Smooth," Zach said, as they stood there. "Couldn’t you hypnotize her or something?"
"It doesn’t work like that."
"I thought vampires were all sex gods with the ladies."
Cade looked at him. "What gave you that idea?"
"Uh… late-night TV, mostly…"
"Humans are our food. Do you want to have sex with a cow?"
"Touché. So what do we do now?"
And now for the review… Like I previously mentioned, there are a lot of vampire books out there at the moment and somehow each author has to make their approach as unique as possible. I found Farnsworth’s combination of vampire and political-secret agent a good one, it certainly worked for me and I was impressed with how he worked it into Blood Oath. I even more impressed by his writing style and the story arc. The writing is slick, neat and very, very gripping; the pace is well maintained in all the chapters. Blood Oath features many small chapters, most of which are introduced by an excerpt from the past or writing of a journal or report, and this helped generate a healthy pace throughout and also gave a nice ambiance to the overall story.
Farnsworth’s characters are well developed and the dialogue between Zach and Cade featured great diversity, fluctuating between arguing and funny mocking, often somewhere in-between the two. The other characters all play their part. Farnsworth switches character perspectives between chapters and tries to highlight how each underwent different events at the same time and this was the thing I enjoyed most because it also allowed the minor character to contribute.
The plot features a lot of action, state of the art machinery, a mad German doctor and much much more. There are some unexpected plot turns along the way, just enough to keep the story interesting without making it overly complex. There are many supernatural themes in Blood Oath which reminded me very much of the X-files, although Farnsworth directly hints towards Frankenstein. This is no dark, gritty horror but more a suspenseful thriller.
I think that in Blood Oath Farnsworth has added a new theme within the vampire genre which I very much enjoyed. Instead of focusing on romance he instead took a popular present day theme, war on terrorism, and built a fantasy-thriller around it. I hope that Farnsworth can keep up the pace and keep the story as interesting. Blood Oath is suspenseful, thrilling and action-packed novel, an awesome book and a recommended read.
I would like to thank Hodder & Stoughton for kindly providing me with a review copy.
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