Published 2010 390 pages
Summary (from the book jacket)
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…
Blood Oath is an entertaining debut novel from Christopher Farnsworth. Farnsworth comes has an established writing background, having worked as an investigative reporter before writing his first screenplay. Blood Oath is his first novel about a vampire working as a secret agent for the President of the USA.
Like James Bond is a man’s man, Nathaniel Cade the vampire protagonist of the story is something of a vampire’s vampire. Vampirism gave him the strength of 20 men plus near immortality, the ability see in the dark, hear a heartbeat at 100 yards and a sense of smell sharper than a bloodhound. It altered his brain to give him genius level strategic planning skills and the ability to process parallel thought streams. A true multitasker Cade can easily out think and out fight any opponent. As an apex predator with a disdain for humans he is far removed from the typical romantic vampire heroes of paranormal romance. When asked why he couldn’t just hypnotise a woman to do his bidding (since obviously all vampires are sex gods with the ladies) he refutes this commonly held belief with, “Humans are our food. Would you want to have sex with a cow?”
Cade’s character is written more along the lines of the vampire as the alien rather than the vampire as the misunderstood human with a drink problem and bad teeth. While this leaves Blood Oath with a protagonist who appears remote and inhuman it also makes Cade a refreshing change from the majority of vampire fiction characters currently being written.
It is obviously against Cade’s nature to do the bidding of a mere human, even if that human is the President. Captured by the US government shortly after he was transformed they quickly called in the most powerful voodoo queen of the day (New Orleans’s famous Marie Laveau) to magically bind him to the will of the serving US President. This is a standard procedure in a world where magic, demons, werewolves and a whole host of other supernatural beasties are the best kept government secret. The human population seems to operate in a state of denial, even when faced with something supernatural they stringently stick to the most rational explanations.
At first glance Blood Oath sounds like a book any self respecting vampire fiction fan would love – especially those who prefer their vampires to be more deadly and less dreamy. However the book isn’t without its faults. The story is action packed and pulls readers along for a fast paced ride as Cade saves the leader of the free world from a horrible death almost single handed yet if you look deeper into the story it has all the depth of a shallow puddle. With the exception of Cade (who is well fleshed out yet hard to identify with) the characters are all fairly one-dimensional and the plotlines derivative.
The story starts with the opening story of the young rookie White House staff member (Zach) getting assigned to act as Cade’s handler. His existing handler (who Cade loves as much as it is possible for him to love a human) is dying so a replacement is needed. Zach gets to find out that there is a monster living in the basement of the Smithsonian and that the world is full of other supernatural things that are just as bad. (Hellboy anyone?) There is plenty of potential for character led drama here yet it’s never explored.
On the stereotypical bad guy side there is a German alchemist who is still mourning the fall of the Third Reich and the end of his death camp experiments – he holds the secret to eternal life yet prefers to deal in nasty deaths. There is an Al-Qaeda terrorist cell that is dabbling with black magic and wants to raise the dead (I’m sure that’s not approved by the Qur’an!) Not forgetting the shadow government agency who wants to bring about the apocalypse for reasons best known only to themselves (maybe it’s just what shadow agencies do – who knows?) Here we have everyone’s favourite villains all conveniently located in one plotline – yet they are all only lightly sketched out characters. It’s like the author decided that the only thing a reader needs to know about them is that they are bad.
At the heart of the matter is that Blood Oath is constructed like a screenplay. Character perspectives and settings quickly shift and the action drives the story forward. Unfortunately even in an action driven novel readers generally expect more substance from the characters. However for all the griping, Blood Oath isn’t a bad book. Readers looking for a non-demanding book packed full of danger, conspiracies and the supernatural should find it a most entertaining read – I know that I certainly did!
LoveVampires Review Rating: