This is the first book in what is quite possibly the best military action/scifi book I have ever laid my hands on. I was surprised to like it at all, since I usually don't read military-type adventures, and I usually like my vampires to be more human and nuanced. The vampires in this series are actually aliens. They've conquered the Earth, except for a few stubborn pockets of resistance. They eat people.
Join David Valentine as he joins up with the militia in the Ozark Free Territory as a raw recruit and journey with him into the ranks of the Wolves-soldiers with enhanced abilities who take the fight to the enemy. There is nothing glorious about this war. It's dirty, ugly and rife with human collaborators and terrifying aliens, and Knight has a real talent at letting you feel the exhaustion, the fear, the strung-out nerves, near-starvation, the cold, heat, dirt, grit and blood. There is a marvellous realism of the army, with it's comraderie and petty jealosies and bueracracies, but in David and his comrades we find humanity's indomitable will to survive-no matter what it takes.
The main character in this book is David Valentine, an orphan taken in by the local priest and we are shown his general development from childhood, through his training, and into young adulthood, with the parts about his training and young adulthood being more detailed than his childhood. In the Way of the Wolf, Valentine is chosen by a "good" Kurian, a Lifeweaver, to become a Wolf, an elite warrior with the finely honed senses and strength of a wolf. The purpose of the Wolves is to help destroy the minions of the Kurians (Reapers) and protect the safety of the Free Territory.
What we get in the Way of the Wolf (the first book in the Vampire Earth Series) is a post-apocalyptic world complete with characters that ring true (even if they are a little flat and one dimensional)...here you see the best and worst of human nature close up and while the world this new world is a violent and unpredictable, we still find flashes of happiness, humor and love as humanity survives and adapts to life in the Kurian Order. Additionally because Knight places the story not too far into the future, we still have characters that remember life before the Kurian order, so the author cleverly gives himself access to literature, television and other popular culture references that might not otherwise be available and I think this helps keep the story from being too bleak and depressing and keeping it accessible/familiar to the reader.
The way of the Wolf was in the Science Fiction section...but I think it has broader appeal than that and could be considered a mix of horror, sci-fi, mysticism, and dystopian society. I wasn't sure what to expect going into this...and while I'm a true horror fan and was a bit disappointed that this isn't more about the "vampires" I wasn't disappointed in the overall feel of the book. It's dark, depressing (sometimes oppressively so) and just plain disgusting in places...but it also has an authentic feel to it that is very appealing despite the bleakness of it all. The story is told in a kind of slice-of-life fashion that at give the book a bit of a disjoined feel...but which serves, I think to give a real rounded look at life under the Kurian order from the "free territory" to those living with the reality of day to day life living directly under the influence of the Kurians and their minions. Since this is a "debut" novel, I can only assume Knight's style and storyline will only get better, so I am definitely looking forward to reading the next book in this series, as I'm quite anxious to see what becomes of Valentine! I give it a B+, it's a good, entertaining read...but it's not without problems.
Brian L. reviewed The Way of the Wolf (Vampire Earth, Bk 1) on
Helpful Score: 1
This is a really new take on the whole vampire genre. The book is set in a post-apocalyptic setting where vampires have taken over the earth and a small force of organized humanity exists to be preyed upon by the vampires. The world the author has created is fantastic if you are in to post-apocalyptic sci-fi settings. Vampires aren't vampires per se in the book; instead the author has created a whole new society of vampires, a whole new food chain if you will. I really enjoyed the book and never felt like it got bogged down at all, really fast paced and interesting.
This book was recommended in a podcast for writers. And my response? Meh.
David Valentine joins the Wolves in their fight against the Kurians, a blood-sucking alien race that has conquered Earth and harvests the remaining humans.
And I'm not gonna waste time by recounting the rest. Usually, I like the dystopian genre, with post-apocalytic survival. I like the remaking of society, what artifacts are repurposed. Usually, it's interesting stuff. Not so much with this one. Very dark and violent. Every little spark of happiness or good that Valentine discovers is ripped to shreds (quite literally). I don't like books like that. There are better plot devices than constant pain and suffering. It wears the reader down when there's no reward.