By Nicholas Barham
Libraries are a treasure trove for hidden gems, which is what I consider Blood Oath by Christopher Farnsworth. It is a story that mixes vampiric horror with political thriller, and a slice of blockbuster action thrown in for good measure. So, without further ado here is my review, hopefully once you have finished reading you will be as excited to sink your teeth into it as I was.
The story follows a vampire called Nathanial Cade, an approximately 160-year-old vampire whose existence was discovered and kept secret, by the US government way back in 1867. Bound to serve the president of the United States by a voodoo spell, he and his succeeding human handlers throughout his almost two centuries of service are tasked with protecting America from all paranormal threats. If you are a big X-Files fan then you will love the world that Farnsworth has created, bursting with conspiracies and secrets from the paranormal, the extra-terrestrial, secret societies, and more.
Blood Oath takes place in 2010, a new human handler, Zach Barrows, is assigned to Cade. Barrows is a wise-cracking up-and-coming white house staffer who finds himself plunged into a terrifying world of monsters, conspiracies, and nightmares kept secret from the general public. The fictionalized President Samuel Curtis sends Cade and Zach to investigate a strange discovery in the Port of Baltimore: a container full of various body parts from US soldiers hanging on meat hooks. Cade and Zach have to get to the bottom of this mystery and stop a plot to attack the president. Along the way there is plenty of action, thrills, and stomach-turning horror as Cade confronts an old foe from the distant past, fights against a shadowy group, and is joined by a sometimes-ally.
An Interesting Cast of Characters
The characters are well defined, complex and three-dimensional. Cade is a dark brooding anti-hero with complex motivations, and an interesting backstory that helps us to understand what drives him. He started out life as an average joe in the 19th century, but then while at sea, he was attacked by a vampire and cursed with immortality and a thirst for blood. Cade knows that he is a monster and considers himself unredeemable, yet fights so hard for that very redemption he believes is impossible. One of the more interesting questions regarding Cade is to what extent he is driven by the blood oath, and to what extent he carries out his duty at the compulsion of his own morality. I will not spoil anything about Cade, but just know that his backstory and character development is one of the best things about this book.
Zach Barrows is a character with which the reader can identify, he is a regular guy caught up in a secret world. Through Zach we are given the human perspective of the world of Blood Oath. But Zach also serves as a much-needed source of comic relief in between the action and violence. His jocular tone, and wise-crack remarks provide a great contrast to Cades dark and gloomy attitude. Together Zach and Cade make an interesting duo, and their two conflicting personalities provide an interesting dynamic in their interactions.
The rest of the cast is serviceable enough, the real standouts here being the villains that pop up to terrorize Cade and Zach. The main nemesis, Dr Johann Konrad, is the star antagonist here, a foe that is deliciously dark and twisted and is a worthy villain for our two main heroes to contend with.
Blood Oath was an amazing book from start to finish. The memorable characters; the interesting world of conspiracies, monsters, and secrets; the action and drama; the twists and turns of the plot; it all kept me turning the page. Christopher Farnsworth has created something brilliant here, and I am excited to read the four other books in the Nathanial Cade series (pictured below). I am already onto book three! Do yourself a favor, go get a copy of Blood Oath.