By the Blood of Heroes: The Great Undead War Book 1 is written by Joseph Nassise and is set in an alternate history World War I. The Kaiser’s army has solved the problem of man power through the invention of Corpse Gas. This gas raises the dead on the battle field and transforms them into ravening zombies that thirst for human flesh. In addition to this discovery, the German army has discovered a method by which they are able to direct the zombies and use them as shock troops.
The war is not going well for the allied forces.
The story that we follow in this book is that of two brothers. Major Jack Freeman is a World War I flying ace and Captain Michael Burke, a veteran of several tours on the front lines. They are brothers but come from two very different worlds and their relationships is strained to say the least. Jack is shot down over enemy territory by the dreaded Red Baron, Manfred Von Richthofen. Everyone is searching for Jack. Von Richtofen wants to find him as proof of his skill over the best the allies have to offer. The allies need to find him to ensure the safety of the American people because of Jack’s parentage. Michael is sent because it is believed that he will do what is necessary to protect America if Freeman can not be rescued.
As the story unfolds, the reader is given a greater sense of the differences in this version of World War I and what happened in our world. Burke did not escape his tours at the front unscathed. He sports a clock work arm that gives him some what greater strength than he would have normally. Tesla works for the allied forces and developed the clockwork cybernetics that Burke uses. The Corpse Gas sometimes has an unforeseen side affect of raising a person with all their faculties intact and giving them greater strength and stamina. The Red Baron is such an individual. Their are tunneling devices, hints of remote viewing, and terrible human experimentation to create a better zombie.
By the Blood of Heroes is a two-fisted action-adventure story that does not sacrifice characterization over action. Through the course of the story, Nassise makes Burke and Freeman into people that you are rooting for by the end of the book. We get to know them and why they have such a rocky relationship which takes them from unreachable action heroes to people doing the best they can in a horrendous situation. The supporting cast are well developed and provide interesting counterpoints to these two strong individuals. In particular, I enjoyed Professor Dan Richards, Tesla’s protege, was my favorite supporting character. His curiosity was neat and fit well with the steam-punk aesthetic that weaved throughout the book.
I have to admit that I am not a fan of zombie and my knowledge of World War I comes from Snoopy and Hogan’s hero. Despite that, I really enjoyed this book. Nassise has created characters that are believeable and relateable. He has crafted s story that kept me riveted and turning the pages. If you like alternate history, World War I, Steam-punk, or Action-adventure, you should give By the Blood of Heroes a read.