Blood Oath by Christopher Farnsworth

November 23, 2012

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 . . .

Like partners in a mis-matched buddy cop movie, the relationship between Barrows and Cade is at the heart of this novel. Barrows starts the novel blissfully ignorant of the supernatural forces that exist in the world. After an unexpected promotion, the truth is revealed and his world view is completely turned on its head. Initially, Barrows is all cocky attitude and very sure of himself, glad to say that doesn’t last very long. Cade by contrast is aloof, and considers humans to be little more than cattle, exactly what you’d expect from a long lived vampire I suppose. The events this pair go through start to bring about a mutual respect and by the novel’s end there are hints of a bromance developing. There is still some antagonism as well though, can’t have things too easy. That would make for a boring read wouldn’t it?

What about the other characters then? Well, there is the villain of the piece, Dr Johann Konrad. It seems entirely appropriate that in a novel that features such a delightfully outlandish plot you also get a delightfully outlandish villain. Konrad is all snarky comments and pithy one liners, but as the plot unfolds you start to get glimpses of just how truly insane he actually is. (Seriously the dude is bonkers). His drive is remorseless and he will use anyone in any way he sees fit if it will further his cause.  His actions get progressively darker and darker. The fact that he does all this with such obvious glee really is a bonus. Naturally all this madness made him the standout character in the novel for me.

Interspersed throughout the main narrative there are a handful of flashbacks that provide the reader with some insight into Cade’s origins. He has been around for a long time and the author plays around with this by including details of Cade’s involvement in various historical events. These little reveals are a nice touch the give an air of authenticity to proceedings. I should stress however that these flashbacks do still leave plenty of gaps in Cade’s backstory. There is still mystery surrounding his character, always essential when it comes to bloodsuckers I’m sure you’ll agree.

It feels like Farnsworth has blended together the elements from many popular television shows–True Blood, 24 and The West Wing spring to mind. He has taken them all and extracted all the best bits into a single action packed romp. From a literary point of view, if you’ve read and enjoyed the Vampire Federation novels by Scott G Mariani then I am sure you’ll get a kick out of this.

Vampires, werewolves, reanimated terrorists, the White House and a sociopath with medical training Blood Oath certainly doesn’t skimp when it comes to covering all bases. Every time I pick up a vampire novel I’m looking for that unique hook. I don’t want to feel as though what I’m reading is just a re-tread of a story I’ve read before. I’m glad to say that the story delivers on its initial promise and is a great read. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ll accept that the premise is undeniably silly but you know what? I really couldn’t care less, its bucket loads of fun.  For me Blood Oath is the literary equivalent of the Resident Evil or Fast and Furious films, a guilty pleasure that I’ll keep coming back to again and again. With that in mind the good news is that there are a couple of sequels already published. I reckon I’ll be reading the next of those, The President’s Vampire, really soon.

Blood Oath is published by Hodder Paperbacks and is available now.

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