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Reign of the Dead [Paperback]

Len Barnhart
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)

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Paperback, August 2001 --  
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Book Description

August 2001
Jim Workman returns from a three-week wilderness retreat in the Blue Ridge Mountains to find that the world is a vastly different place. In the few short weeks since he dropped out of civilization a bizarre plague has swept the planet. The recently dead are rising as feeding machines that feast on the warm flesh of the living. A bite from one of the creatures is ultimately fatal as one ghoul becomes two, becomes eight, becomes sixteen, until the human species is nearly extinct. Jim joins a group of about a hundred survivors who are temporarily barricaded in a local rescue center as they search for a way to make it through this waking nightmare.

In an isolated country house just miles from the rescue center the sanctimonious Reverend R.T. Peterson is leading a group of troubled teenagers. Guided by his visions and voices, the Reverend forges a twisted plan to carry out God's will now that the apocalypse is upon them.

In a nearby government installation, tucked deep beneath the mountain, scientists search for answers as the scientific, military and political forces involved battle for dominance and survival.

The story follows the lives of six main characters as they attempt to navigate through a nightmarish world of death and destruction. It is a tale of good and evil, of love and of the indomitable human spirit, leading to the climactic encounter as the three factions finally come together.


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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a book for the zombie lovers June 10 2004
By Daniel
Format:Paperback
I read some of the bad reviews written on these pages and I can see some of the points they are making, like the single dimensionality of the characters, half developed dialoges, and editing inconsistencies. On the other hand, I still love this book, because of its creatvity, story line, and the fact that it provided me with a good-old Romero type zombie survival book which is so hard to find for Zombie fans like myself. I think reviewing this book for its literary value is a big mistake.
Let's be honest... If you don't like the 1970-80's philosophy of zombies and horror/survival genre, the chances are this book will not mean much to you. This is not a Stephen King type thriller book. The targeted audience for this book are people who grew up with such movies as the Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, and Day of the Dead. People who like their zombies slow walking and easily killed with a bullet in the hand. People who fantasize over the idea of apocolyptic survival and self dependency. If you think you fit this demographic description, you will think that this was your best spent $15-20.
I do not know the author, I never read any bibliographic information on him, but yet I am almost sure that he belongs to this genaration of people. So I would like to thank him for providing me with 5-6 hours of joy of reading a highly entertaining Zombie book.
I am looking forward to his new book which I think takes place in New York and will be published in the Spring of 2005.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Needs a good editor May 15 2004
Format:Paperback
I am really into the subject of the living dead. Movies, books, comics, you name it. Because of this I have a hard time disliking anything in the genre, including this book. To me, the idea is strong enough to carry most attempts, even if poorly executed. That is, unfortunately, the way I see this. book. A great story idea, but a very weak book.
The grammar is horrible, almost bad enough to not read the book. When I say the grammar is bad you may be thinking that I am being harsh and overly analytical, but I assure you that is not the case. The author has made grammatical mistakes that shouldn't be made after the second grade. We're not talking about simple misspellings (although there are plenty of them), but structural errors that caused me to have to reread sections two or three time to get what the author meant.
One other thing that got to me was the complete lack of research done. If you are going to take the time to write a book you really ought to take the time to read about the incidental subject matter covered in your book. Learn about how viruses work. Read up on the electron microscope if you are going to have one used in the story (electron microscopes don't show images of living, moving things. You have to coat what you're looking at in a silver solution, and everything is dead...thus, no evil diseases floating around).
Anyway, I do recommend the book if you like the living dead, and if you can tolerate bad writing in order to get to a really good story idea.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Worst horror book ever Jan. 20 2004
Format:Paperback
I'm a big fan of apocalyptic fiction of all genres. Being such, I've read a lot of great fiction and some bad. Even with the bad it's usually of the pulp, B-movie type so you pretty much know what you're in for before you start reading so you generally take the whole thing tongue-in-cheek. This first attempt by Len Barnhart is at the far end of the "bad" scale. I love the concept of zombie-fiction, but there's nothing original to be found in Reign of the Dead. Looking at the front cover of the book I immediately thought of Nosferatu. This is just the first of Mr. Barnhart's apparent fetish for borrowing from past masters. The rehashed cliches and tired story concepts come up page after page after page. We only have to wait until the last sentence of paragraph number three to get to the first bit of his story that has already been used countless times in far more creative ways. In that paragraph we find that Jim, our main character, has been taking some R&R at his cabin in the woods for the past 3 weeks. Already I'm thinking of Stewart's Earth Abides novel (the first nuclear age apocalyptic novel) and Johnston's Out of the Ashes series. Pretty soon we're introduced to zombies who are described as walking Frankenstein's with arms stretched out in front of them. Romero did a much better job of visualizing a zombie's shuffle. I don't need to have a sophomoric comparison to Frankenstein. Pretty soon we're introduced to a man of religion gone over the edge. There goes another familiar tune. The same old themes that have been used time and again pop up on a regular basis. There is nothing original here. Read more ›
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2.0 out of 5 stars Hackneyed Plot Elements of Amateurish Quality Oct. 29 2003
Format:Paperback
I have to admit that since the age of ten I have been a huge fan of the zombie sub-genre. To be quite honest, I will read or watch just about anything that is produced dealing with our favorite flesh eating ghouls. However, I am consistently disappointed with the lack of originality that writers and directs have for the possibilities that zombies offer a good story-teller. Reign of the Dead is no exception. Although I had great expectations for this novel, it became quite obvious by the second chapter that the author was an amateur writer. Specifically, several of his main characters are noticeable clichés and at times emotionally void. Furthermore, they serve relatively no purpose in advancing the plot. Although I was expecting a huge pay-off at the end of Mr. Barnhart's novel, considering the variety of his character's geographical and environmental backgrounds, I was completely disappointed with his flat conclusion.
I think that it would have been more prudent on Mr. Barnhart's part to have re-edited his novel. By removing some of the more incoherent ideas such as apocalyptic visions of holy retribution and political power struggles, while sticking to more solid ideas such as the suffering and horror the survivors face - specifically, his interesting take on the Romerian pseudo-science of zombification and the loneliness of desolate cities - Mr. Barnhart would have established not only the eerie atmosphere that he at times evokes early on the novel but a palpable feeling of despair with the reader.
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Most recent customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Dreadful
Absolutely dreadful. Where was this man's editor? The plot is the sort of thing a pre-adolescent might dream up, the characters are as dull as can be, and my 5-year-old can... Read more
Published on July 17 2004
1.0 out of 5 stars Old School Mayhem
This book rocked out! I give this puppy a 1 because it's numero uno. First, this guy with extensive military training somehow is camping with his guns and he pretty much hates... Read more
Published on July 14 2004
4.0 out of 5 stars Romero fans will like it
If you are a fan of George Romero movies or horror in general then you'll like this book. It's a fast read. I read it in less than two days. Read more
Published on July 14 2004
3.0 out of 5 stars good, but lacking substance
I'm a huge fan of the zombie genre, so when I read the reviews on this book, I was pretty excited to get my hands on it. Read more
Published on July 12 2004 by B. Anderson
1.0 out of 5 stars Not enough gore
As zombie stories go, this one was lacking in gore and action.
Published on July 6 2004
2.0 out of 5 stars Not awful, but not great either
This book is what it is. It has a plot, a familiar premise, and kills (pardon the pun) a few hours of time. I wouldn't say it's a great novel, but it's not worth trashing either. Read more
Published on June 28 2004
1.0 out of 5 stars I was psyched to read this after Dawn of the Dead's remake
But man this was disappointing. I figured this would be a good book to take on vacation and do some fun reading. Read more
Published on June 17 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Types of Zombie fans...
You know reading through these reviews, I think that there has to exist different types of zombie fans, because I truly cannot understand anyone who calls themselves zombie fans... Read more
Published on June 10 2004 by Daniel
1.0 out of 5 stars Horrible, and not in the way the author intended
The novelty of a zombie thriller set in an area of Virginia that I know well compelled me to buy this book, which isn't carried on many bookstore shelves. Read more
Published on May 2 2004
4.0 out of 5 stars A zombie fan's kinda of Book
I was very excited to receive this book, it was very well written for a first novel by the author. Some of the chapters are alittle small and some ideas are alittle unoriginal, but... Read more
Published on April 18 2004 by J. Moulton
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