by E. E. Knight
Series: The Vampire Earth, Book 1
Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, Speculative, Dystopian
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Louisiana, 2065. A lot has changed in the 43rd year of the Kurian Order. Possessed of an unnatural and legendary hunger, the bloodthirsty Reapers have come to Earth to establish a New Order built on the harvesting of enslaved human souls. They rule the planet. They thrive on the scent of fear. And if it is night, as sure as darkness, they will come.
On this pitiless world, the indomitable spirit of mankind still breathes in Lieutenant David Valentine. Brought into the special forces of The Wolves—an elite guerilla force sworn to win back Earth—this is Valentine’s first command in the Kurian Zone. Driven by the losses of his past and the hope of a future, Valentine is in it to win. No matter how long it takes. No matter what doom of fate awaits him beyond his wildest nightmares.
Northern Louisiana, March, the forty-third year of the Kurian Order: The green expanse once known as the Kisatchie Forest slowly digests the works of man.
My First Thoughts:
I did not initially want to give this book a chance when I read the summary on the cover because I assumed it would be all about guerilla warfare and fighting aliens, which in themselves aren’t scenarios that appeal to me. There has to be something more for me to take an interest in that genre of book. A book from my husband’s personal collection, he insisted that I would find it interesting due to its different take on the concept of vampires. ‘Yeah, vampires are aliens now. Great.‘ I rolled my eyes at the thought and was dismissive of it and it sat on the bookshelf for years, collecting a lot of dust.
The day finally came when my husband talked me into trying to read the book, and I must say, he was right. I had a hard time putting the book down. And he gave me that look of triumph that said: “I told you so!”
The setting takes place in what was once the United States, the year 2065. It has been over 40 years since the Kurians, aliens from the planet Kur who figured out a way to lengthen their lives by absorbing vital aura from other living things, invaded the earth and established a New World Order.
Two-thirds of the human population has been wiped out by natural disasters orchestrated by the Kurians, nuclear war and the widespread plague of a Kurian engineered version of Rabies, turning masses into E.E. Knights version of zombies (they are referred to as Ravies).
Most of the remaining humans are now under Kurian rule, and while the most capable workers are allowed to stay alive and encouraged to reproduce offspring so the Kurians do not run out of vital aura to feed off of, they all live with the fear that once night falls, they are fair game to fall prey to the hungry reapers that roam at night. Humans are now livestock, waiting to be eaten by their new rulers.
There are a few groups of renegade guerrilla fighters (the Hunters) who are determined to fight against the Kurians. With the help of the Lifeweavers, the Hunters are given special abilities that maximize human instincts and operate in special castes named after animals: The Wolves, Cats, and Bears.
Overall, the scenes are well described and mapped out. Each chapter begins with a descriptive narrative pulls the reader into the surroundings.
One of the elements that intrigued me the most about this novel was the different species introduced. I found it most interesting that the author chose to use the model of a psychic vampire, rather than the traditional romanticised vampires people are used to reading about. The blood-sucking vampires serve merely as puppets being controlled by a psychic vampire. Neither are of supernatural or demonic origin but are aliens. This is the first time I have seen such a unique take on vampires and it was very refreshing.
Knight’s world manages to include a full colorful array of creatures by implementing the use of Kurian creations known as grogs. It is through the presence of these creatures that the novel takes on a feel of a fantasy novel in places. To be more specific, here is a quick breakdown:
Lifeweavers– these are the aliens. They have made appearances on the earth as far back as the earliest human civilizations by way of the Interworld Tree, an ancient network of portals between the different planets within the universe. They were worshipped by humans as gods and goddesses for centuries. The Kurians are Lifeweavers, but they have been banished and outcasts from the other Lifeweavers due to corruption.
Grogs– A variety of creations made by the Kurians that have been designed to help subjugate mankind. They come in many shapes and forms such as harpies, gargoyle-like bats, frogmen, etc.
Reapers- Avatars that are animated by a master Kurian. These are the vampires of the novel that live off of the blood of humans while absorbing the life auras to sustain the Kurian. They have glowing yellow eyes, blade-like fangs, and long mosquito-like tongues that they use to extract blood from their victims. Reapers are super hard to kill but, like a traditional vampire, are susceptible to sunlight.
Ravies– Zombies, more or less. Akin to the ones you would see in the film 28 Days.
The Vampire Earth series follows the career of David Valentine, a Hunter with the unique ability to sense a reaper’s presence. At a young age, his mother, father and younger siblings are murdered by a group of quislings (human patrols loyal to the Kurian Order). As a teenager, he joins the resistance and embarks on a journey that teaches him the ways of the Wolf. In the process, many of his comrades are killed and his grief for them slowly manifests itself into a thirst for revenge, which we see come to a head during the second half of the book when a girl he has fallen in love with is taken by the quislings. Overall, Valentine seems to be a likable guy with a good head on his shoulders, and his adventures do not disappoint.
I found that the other characters were slightly flat. Many of them seemed written in for the sole purpose of quickly being killed off. There’s not a lot of effort put into developing the strong bonds and relationships between Valentine and the people he supposedly forms these strong bonds with, which makes it harder to feel his anguish when he loses them. This is improved upon during the second half of the book when he meets Molly, but I feel like even their relationship was a bit rushed.
As I said in my first thoughts, I had a hard time putting this book down. The world was just so interesting, descriptive and action packed! It was not, however, without its setbacks. As the first book of a series, and with so many different elements to this world, it could only be expected that the majority of the book was written mainly as an introduction.
The first chapter jumps straight into the action, followed by the next chapter going back a few years to introduce how Valentine came to be a Wolf. the problem is that the events from the first chapter are never mentioned again, and it left me wondering what the hell ended up happening to the refugees they were trying to lead to the free territory. Did Valentine get them there, or not? What about the traitor of the group?
The chapters after that seem more like individual episodes, which transition a bit abruptly from one to the next. This works itself out in the later chapters of the book as the story becomes more linear and focuses on one goal. The ending leaves many unanswered questions, as the first chapter that was never revisited did, but I can only assume they will be answered in the second book of the series. In all, the book was highly entertaining in that it managed to combine horror, warfare, fantasy, science fiction and a dystopian society all into one world. After finishing this book, I have already started the process of obtaining the rest of the series. I can’t wait to see where it will go next and what sort of new characters will be introduced!
“I learned one thing: tears make you feel better, but they don’t change anything. You’ll still be hungry when they dry up. Still be lonely.”
“Still, he felt lonely and fell into the trap of pretending to prefer to be alone, thus leading to further lonliness in a vicious circle of solitude that young men of a certain temperament build for themselves and then inhabit.”
“There’s a feeling about the place. It’s a piece of sanity in an insane country. Or maybe a slightly different insanity within the insanity, take your pick.”
“How would you like to spend your life knowing it’s going to end with you being eaten? I’ve developed a lot of sympathy for our cows.”
- What do you think of E.E. Knight’s take on vampires?
- If you found yourself living in the age of the Kurian Order, would you try and make a life within Kurian controlled society, or would you take a chance retreating into the Free Territories?