Let me start off by giving you the elevator pitch. Blood Oath is equal parts The Bourne Identity, World of Darkness, and H P Lovecraft. It takes urban fantasy and seamlessly integrates it with the spy thriller genre. The setting is our modern world but with elder horrors lurking at the edge of reality, werewolves leading organized crime in Russia, and mad scientists creating horrors to be used as weapons of mass destruction. In this world, every nation needs an operative that can work within these supernatural shadows. The United States has Nathaniel Cade.
Nathaniel Cade, also known as the President’s vampire, serves the interests of the United States by keeping the nation safe from supernatural threats. The book opens with a military strike team observing a deal being brokered in a former soviet block nation. The perspective the reader is given is that of a special forces sniper watching the proceedings after having gone radio silent. The tableau that unfolds has the deal going sour and the sniper taking the shot despite orders to not engage the Russian operatives. Instead of this ending an ugly confrontation, it just escalates the violence as the operative transforms into a werewolf and leaps to the window where the sniper is positioned. Before the rampaging werewolf has a chance to eviscerate the sniper, Cade joins the fray. The action is quick, brutal and ends with Cade holding the lower jawbone of werewolf in his hand and berating the soldier for almost ruining the operation. If that doesn’t qualify as bad ass, then I don’t know what does.
The style of writing in Blood Oath plays heavily to the strengths of Christopher Farnsworth’s experience as a screenwriter and a journalist. The action is fast paced and well written with an eye to setting a scene. He skillfully handles a large cast of characters while ensuring each one is engaging regardless of their time on the screen. He utilizes this cast of characters as a tool to provide many different perspectives on the action transpiring. This allows the reader to have a greater understanding of various plots that are unfolding. Farnsworth slowly reveals the complexity of Cade’s interactions with the various arms of the US government as well as that of the many holders of the office of President. What is most impressive is that Farnsworth deals with the idea that the larger the group of people involved in a conspiracy the less likely that this conspiracy will remain secret.
Farnsworth has created an interesting character in Nathaniel Cade as well as an intriguing setting. The characters fit well within the tropes of the spy thriller and urban fantasy without being caricatures of the big names in either genre. Being a fan of both styles of fiction, I found this book to be excellent melding of the two. What could be better than a vampire fighting a werewolf on behalf of the President of the United States. That’s bad ass.