Blood Oath by Christopher Farnsworth
When I first heard about Blood Oath, I admit was skeptical. A vampire secretly working for the president, protecting the country from threats? Seriously? I was also a bit intrigued, though, so when I had the chance to read the book, I was willing to give it a try. And I found Christopher Farnsworth’s novel to be a sometimes humorous, sometimes gruesome, always entertaining thriller. Seriously.
Over 140 years ago, Nathaniel Cade swore an oath “to support and defend the nation and its citizens against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” Cade’s vampire intelligence and physiology have made him extremely effective at what he does, defeating foes regular humans would have no chance against, regardless of how well trained they are.
Zach Barrows is horrified to discover that his new job is to serve as Cade’s liaison to the president. Zach is twenty-five year old, formerly the president’s deputy director for White House affairs. He’d dreamed of being chief of staff, and now he’s stuck in a job he never would have wanted even if he’d known that it existed.
And forget on the job training. Less than a day into the job, Zach and Cade are notified of a suspicious shipping container in Baltimore. Zach must help Cade battle enemies old and new while struggling to come to terms with his new position and the realization that not only do vampires exist, but so do things even worse than vampires.
Blood Oath is primarily told from Zach’s point of view, which might disappoint readers expecting to solely follow “the president’s vampire,” as the book cover puts it. And it has its crude moments, so it’s not for everyone. (As an example, my favorite line, from pp. 121-122, Cade in response to Zach’s mistaken impression that “vampires were all sex gods with the ladies”: “Humans are our food. Do you want to have sex with a cow?”) Zach is not exactly a likable character, but you don’t need to like him to become involved with the story. Character development is not the draw here, it’s the plot, action, and the clever way Farnsworth integrates historical and supernatural elements into his story. Zach serves as a sort of (rude and egotistical) counterpart to the reader, asking the questions that we, as readers, have about Cade and his service. I think this structure is partly what makes the story work successfully. Farnsworth writes with an authority that had me willing to suspend my disbelief from the very beginning of the book, but Zach’s reactions to his situation also contribute to this, and the more he believes in what he’s seeing and doing, the more plausible everything is to the reader. To be sure, I was never fully convinced of Cade’s original motivation, but ultimately, I enjoyed Blood Oath too much to really care.
Book source: public library.
Cross-posted at Guys Lit Wire.