Hey, folks. Sorry for the radio silence – I’ve been a bit busy working on my capstone paper for grad school, and with Rorschach’s review/spork of the Maradonia movie, I figured I could take a break. But, with November (and NaNoWriMo) coming, and any number of other stuff, I figured I should try to get another review out before I get bogged down with other stuff.
So, today, and just in time for Halloween, I’m going to tell you guys about Blood Oath, the first novel of Christopher Farnsworth’s Nathaniel Cade series.
First, the blurb:
Zach Barrows is a cocky, ambitious White House employee until he’s abruptly transferred out and partnered with Nathaniel Cade, a secret agent sworn to protect the president. But Cade is no ordinary civil servant. Bound 140 years ago by a special blood oath, Nathanial Cade is a vampire. On the orders of the president he defends the nation against enemies far stranger-and even more dangerous-than civilians like Zach could ever imagine.
So yes, this is yet another Urban Fantasy series. But like most of the UF series I’ve recommended, this one takes a different approach to the sub-genre – instead of the people dealing with the supernatural working alone or with secret organizations, they’re actually part of the US government. Honestly, I’m a bit surprised that this is such a rare thing in the genre – how is it that no law enforcement agency notices all the crazy shit your typical UF protagonist gets up to?
There’s a lot I love about this series (currently consisting of three books and one novella). Part of it is the wonderful repartee between Zach and Cade. Farnsworth’s background is in script writing, and some of his dialogue is wonderfully reminiscent of Joss Whedon’s work. For example, here’s a bit from this book:
“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?”
See? Not only is that funny, but it also raises a valid point – why the heck would a vampire be interested in sex with a human?
But I also love a lot of the background stuff Farnsworth included in the series. For a long time, his website had a fictional timeline of events from American history, which included references to conspiracy theories and folklore, as well as movies and other works of fiction. For example, events include the birth of the Jersey Devil in 1735, a report of a “headless horseman” supposedly killing a teacher in upstate New York in 1790 (reference to “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”), the disappearance of the Pabodie Expedition in Antarctica in 1931 (reference to HP Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness), something called the Grover’s Mill Intrusion Event in 1938 (reference to Orson Welles’s radio broadcast of War of the Worlds), and a “Pabodie II” expedition in 1951 (reference to the film The Thing From Another World – sadly, there’s no “Pabodie III” for 1982). There’s plenty more, if you’re interested. Though it’s no longer on Farnsworth’s website, a bit of Google-fu helped me find a copy here.
Finally, I love that Cade doesn’t seem to fall into any category of typical vampire behavior – he doesn’t spend his time brooding over his lost humanity, but he doesn’t revel in his undead state, either. Yes, he works to keep his vampiric nature in check, but he’s aware that there’s no going back for him, either. Cade isn’t human, and doesn’t pretend to be when he doesn’t have to.
And as for this book in particular (and I’m going into minor spoilers here), it managed to do something I hadn’t really thought possible – make both Frankenstein and his creation scary again.
My only complaint is that it’s now been four years since the publication of the last novel – important, because it centered around the re-election campaign of the fiction President Samuel Curtis. While Farnsworth has been working on other things, and has said he intends to return to writing Cade, I’d like to see what happens next before the 2020 election. But that’s good news for you guys – you can buy Blood Oath, and the sequels The President’s Vampire and Red, White, and Blood right now.