The format in which this book is done is interesting. I haven't come across this until now. For a good part of the novel, you get what looks like short stories of Valentine's life before the actual plot begins. I understand how some readers thought this wasn't the most perfect way to introduce the story. However I thought it was not only different but a good way to introduce the main character, and his background, with background information about the setting in this way. You follow Valentine throughout his youth, then you follow him through the period on where he first starts training to become a 'Wolf' (a special elite unit). It's not until a good later part of the book is where the actual plot begins. I liked this kind of introduction. It made getting to know Valentine easier. It gave Valentine a three dimensional form and it chronicles his development in good detail.
The setting is also interesting, however it took me a while to finally get the hang of it (without consulting the glossary at the back). The vampires here are ruthless and evil, so you will definitely not find the romantic stereotype anywhere in this book. There's a blend of post apocalyptic characteristics, with dark fantasy, and science fiction elements. So really you have a good mixture of just about everything in here. Personally, I like the dark fantasy and post apocalyptic parts. Earth really is a bleak place to be and the descriptions, and characters enhance the setting.
Valentine is all right as a character. He does seem like your most awesome hero and at times it could get a little annoying. I wish he could have a bit of a darker edge to him (ie: he could be a jerk once in a while) but he seems to be your average good guy with a troubled past. I suppose that's not too bad although it could be considered cliche and overdone by other readers.
What I did enjoy most about the novel is the overall plot. The pace was good although certain areas did experience a bit of a bump here and there. However all I will ask is for the author to not do any more romantic scenes and I'm shuddering to think if there will be more romance in the other books to follow. I read a particular romance moment and I just about nearly choked. Really? a man would do what Valentine did?? that's just gross! after having a fit for about a few minutes I resumed with the story (Apologies for not being specific. It is detailed and explicit so I won't go further than that). After finishing the book I still found that particular passage to be still unnerving. That's the only part that I strongly dislike in the book. Seriously, just take the romance out of this. It wasn't necessary and the plot was fine without it!
This was a nice interesting start to what looks like an action packed series. I'm definitely going to follow this series for sure. If you like dark fantasy with sci fi elements in a post apocalyptic world try this. Plus, the vampires aren't sparkling. You might just like it!
on July 11, 2004
On an impressively well-written new series. At the heart of this apocalyptic saga is David Valentine, a boy from backwoods Minnesota who begins a bloody journey to avenge his family's brutal demise at the hands of Quislings, human servants of the Kur, a race of galactic soul-suckers who've overthrown Earth and turned mankind into livestock. David becomes an officer of the Wolves, a unit of warriors whose senses have been honed by Lifeweavers, cosmic cousins of the Kur. The Wolves battle a variety of foes, the worst of which are Reapers, black-fanged vampy bastards who glut themselves on blood while doing the dirty work of funneling life-force back to Kur masters who control them by psychic bond.
What impresses me most about E.E. Knight is his style: He writes with a dry wit, a florid descriptive eye, magnificent metaphors and perfect pacing. This book encompasses the best of just about every genre. His work has been compared to Heinlein, Lovecraft, even Crane. But if you read this book, you'll see -- it's a brand new Knight.
P.S. Check out the author's website, [...]
on April 16, 2004
This title began life as one of the few P.O.D. titles released by iPublish, TimeWarner's now defunct online writing forum, and thats how I first came across it and wrote this review.
The Way of the Wolf tells the story of David Valentine, a resistance fighter living in a future earth ruled by brutal vampiric entities and their vicious minions. Since the Kurians, remorseless beings that suck the aura or life energy from other races arrived on our world through interdimensional portals, society as we know it has been all but obliterated. Humans exist mainly as slaves and snack food, with only the small pockets of resistance in the colder climes hanging on to any ideal of how life should be. These teams of hardened fighters, aided by the lifeweavers (a faction of Kurians who are against the idea of feeding on other races), prevent the Kurian Order from taking hold of the free territories. The story charts the progress of Valentine from the time he first joins up with the resistance, through his training and subsequent magical enhancement by the lifeweavers to joining the Wolves, one of the elite fighting forces that hold the Kurians at bay.
After the initial introduction to Valentine and the details of his newly acquired role in life, the book meanders in an interesting slice-of-life fashion allowing the reader to build up an understanding of the main character and the new world order. About half way through this resolves into a more plotted format when Valentine encounters a difficult situation which he has a personal interest in resolving, and develops more of an aim in life.
The story flows along at an enjoyable pace, explaining the new world order at a pace which makes it easy to get to grips with, while delving into fascinating detail about the Kurian race and their creepy and widely varied minions. It is a book very much centred on the protagonist - attention has certainly been paid to characterisation but a couple of them come across just a little light, and I would have liked to see more depth in the love interest - luckily Valentine's own interest in having a shot at anything carries his actions through believably where the depth of his feelings is less apparent.
The portrayal of Valentine himself strikes a very enjoyable balance between him as an obviously talented fighter and his own inner turmoil and self-doubt. As he rises through the ranks and comes to understand more about the way things work in Kurian society the reader is carried smoothly along on the same very natural learning curve. Again I would have enjoyed being able to get just a little closer to Valentine's thoughts and feelings, but I feel the absence of this is a product of his lack of strong opinions or motivations in the first half of the work, and hope it is an issue that will be naturally resolved as future events unfold.
For me the real interest of this book is held in the way it allows us a small viewing window into an alien society where the mysteries, the rules, and the in-fighting are entirely different to our own, and this window is placed in a way that draws the viewer in yet still tantalizes them with off screen secrets.
There are two more books in the Vampire Earth series, both of which are already written. Although the story wraps quite satisfactorily at the end of this volume it is obvious that a wealth of intriguing information about Kurian society is still to come, and the overarching concept of battling the evil Kurian Order is still left almost completely untouched. All of which leaves the reader eager to read the next volume. While it is still rewarding to read this volume as a standalone the maximum enjoyment is to be had if you're in it for the series.
If this novel turns out to be a reasonable standard to go by I have no doubt that E.E. Knight is going to be a household name in the genre before he's done. This volume is excellent and I strongly recommend it.
on March 3, 2004
This has got to be the best futuristic novel I have had the pleasure of reading. Knight set up an elaborate world with strange and interesting creatures. This is a world of terror for any human. In this world, strange vampire like creatures from another world rule Earth. They basically use humans as cattle, feeding on them as need arises. A few humans due their bidding in hopes of earning a brass ring that will allow them to be exempt from becoming food to another passing vampire. Others migrate to colder areas where the vampires are not likely to come. Lastly, a rebel band of people fight to save as many people as possible and perhaps even take back their world. These band of rebels are aided and trained by another alien related to the vampires. The rebel bands are separated into three groups--wolves, bears, cats. Here enters our hero, David Valentine, a Native American whose family was murdered and raped by a scouting group of humans who work for the vampires. When David becomes older, he decides to join the rebels. Knight goes on to describe David's experences as a rebel and the harsh cruelty he and his fellow rebelers are fighting against.
There would be no words available for me to express how vivid and interesting this novel is. I sit on edge waiting for the sequel.
E. E. Knight's Way of the Wolf: Book One of The Vampire Earth is one of the most impressive debut novels I have ever read. I'm not sure why the author uses a pen name; if I had written a novel this original and absorbing, I would want my real name plastered across it in gigantic letters. Roc has released the book in its science fiction line, but the story strikes me as dark fantasy with militaristic overtones. Proudly drawing on the work of many great authors of the past - men such as Robert Howard, C.S. Forester, and Louis L'Amour - Knight creates a wholly original world that lives and breathes in the imagination of the reader. Readers should not see the reference to vampires in the title and simply dismiss this book as "yet another vampire novel." The vampires in command of Earth in the year 2065 are like no vampires you have ever encountered, and they do not even take an active part in the proceedings recorded in this first volume of a truly noteworthy new series.
Way of the Wolf introduces us to David Valentine, a young Lieutenant in the Southern Command and an extraordinarily human and likeable hero in a post-apocalyptic world. The mythology Knight constructs for this series is rather complex, but basically the earth is, in 2065, under the control of vicious minions from the planet Kur. Long before civilization was borne on the planet, a race of pre-Entities discovered the means for traveling between worlds, arriving on Earth but dying out before the dawn of human history. Another race eventually discovered the secrets of the Interworld Tree, and creatures from the planet Kur invaded and took over the earth after discovering they could essentially live forever by feeding on the auras of other living creatures (namely, human beings). Lifeweavers have long opposed the Kurians, but they exist on earth in numbers insufficient to challenge the Kurian New World Order directly. Their knowledge is passed on to human heroes such as the Wolves, however, men and women who patrol the boundaries of humanity's threatened refuge in the middle of what used to be America. The Kurians have created the ever-dangerous Grogs to help enforce their rule, and some humans (Quislings) have chosen to serve the New World Order rather than perish. It is the Reapers, however, who pose the greatest threat to mankind. Reapers are brutish vampiric creatures able to detect and hunt down human beings; they feed on the blood of their victims while also serving as the conduit for their Overlords' absorption of human auras.
This book basically describes David's life from the time in which his family is killed up through his first year of service in the Wolves. We follow his career from his induction into the order through a number of scouting missions, mourn alongside him the terrible loss of several good comrades, and marvel at his ingenuity, instinct for self-preservation, and innovative offensive skills in a number of deadly situations. Eventually, fate leads him to a farm in a Kurian-controlled zone, and here he experiences "normal" life to a degree he has not known since the time before his parents' deaths. Love now enters the mix alongside bravery, duty, and honor, making this an even more poignantly human tale. All of this leads up to a riveting conclusion, one which satisfies the reader while setting the stage for what is to come next in the series. I can't wait to rejoin David Valentine in the forthcoming second volume of The Vampire Earth.
on January 13, 2004
In 2022 the world as we know it comes to an end. Aliens who call themselves Kurians have taken over Earth. The Kurians are not harmless and have very sinister designs on humanity. Each Kurian controls a group of Reapers - a vampire like wraith who prowls the night stealing a human's lifeforce or aura. The auras are the means with which the Kurians remain immortal. The Kurians have some of humanity in league with them. Many people have agreed to help the Kurians by selling out their neighbors. Most of humanity is now a farm animal for the Kurians.
David Valentine has had to grow up very fast. His entire family died a senseless death. It wasn't Reapers - but humans. Valentine was forever changed that day. When Southern Command, the remnants of the military protecting everyone from the Kurians, comes calling for volunteers, Valentine is intrigued. His father was a Wolf, an elite military unit that engages in guerrilla warfare. By becoming a Wolf, Valentine is driven to find a way to defeat the Kurians and salvage what is left of humanity.
Way of the Wolf is the first of the Vampire Earth series. As such, much of the book is spent creating the post-apocalyptic Earth and setting up Valentine as our hero. Valentine is very well fleshed out and likeable character. He endears himself to the reader. The story line of Way of the Wolf is slow to start, but once the action begins, it does not let up. The action is gripping and enthralling. The dichotomy of an 'elite' group with immunity from the Kurians and all the other 'sheep' presents many opportunities for the story line to take unseen twists. Who is more devious and deadly? The Reapers or your neighbors?
Way of the Wolf is E.E. Knight's first book. The sequel, Choice of the Cat will be published in May, 2004 with a third novel, titled Tale of the Thunderbolt to follow in 2005. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider: The Lost Cult, an adventure in the Tomb Raider world will be published in August, 2004. E.E. Knight has a very extensive website at [...]
on December 23, 2003
David Valentine is orphaned when quislings rape and murder his mother and shoot his father. He is brought up by the local priest--Father Max, in a post apocalyptic world where the alien Kuriens now rule.
The Kuriens are immortal beings that sustain themselves by feeding on auras of living beings. All living things have an aura, like a magnetic field that surrounds them. The more intelligent the animal, the more powerful the aura. For instance, a monkey being much more intelligent than a cow gives off a very rich aura that the Kuriens need, and then there is man. Humans are a perfect diet for Kuriens, but there's a problem. Humans don't want to die to feed the aliens and insist on fighting back :)
Kuriens are adept at manipulating genetic codes to create useful animals. They create various monsters that humans collectively call Grogs, and then there are the Reapers--vampire like creatures that suck the blood of their victims and pass on auras to their Kurien masters. These creatures are deadly, but thankfully there is an answer even in a world where 80% of the world's population has been eradicated by the release of Kurien enhanced plagues. Lifegivers.
The lifegivers are descended from the same race as the degenerate Kuriens, but they are good guys. They give humans a chance to fight the Kuriens by enhancing a select few. They create the Wolves, the Cats, and the Bears to lead the fight against the Kuriens.
David Valentine becomes a Wolf and fights humanity's enemy. We follow him into various dangers and see him win through. I can't praise this book highly enough. It's very different from any vampire book I've read before and benefits enormously from that.
Reviewed by Mark E. Cooper
The Warrior Within
on December 7, 2003
I read the book with high expectations because of the good reviews, but ended up disappointed.
Yes, as has been stated before, the plot has a new twist, but the book ended up in an awkward superposition between horror and science fiction.
The author has taken great pains to make some backgound details beleivable, so the details about the grim life under the alien invaders are worked out, but after a quarter of the book they tend to crowd out the horror/adventure elements. What you get is a post-apocalyptic novel that rather reminds me of Heinlein's juveniles, with a young man rising through the ranks in a war against aliens.
The aliens -blood-sucking as they may be- end up rather trivial adversaries, they may be hard to kill but do not scare in the manner of the "Alien" aliens. The "Quislings" are also too trivial bad guys to be interesting. The cast of villains, and the background of America's decaying infrastructure is shabby rather than horrifying.
As science fiction, it is not original or exciting enough to "take off", and as horror/urban fantasy it does not have the romantic edge of, for instance Anne Rice or Laurell Hamilton.
I give it two stars instead of one, only because the author has clearly made an effort with the "world-building" of the novel.
on November 23, 2003
Some books showcase familiar speculative fiction concepts in comfortable ways; some braid a few of those threads in refreshing patterns. And then there are those which blaze new trails through the genre. *Way of the Wolf*, the first novel by E.E. Knight, is one of the latter. The opening volume of the Vampire Earth series, it reads more like an inspired blend of C.S. Forester, H.P. Lovecraft, and Roger Zelazny than anything penned by Anne Rice.
A handful of reviewers seem not to have noticed the book's back cover blurb or numerous reviews that clearly indicate that *Wolf* is about vampire hunters. Turn elsewhere if you want to read of conflicted vampires whining about their fates; turn here if you want a new, frightening take on old monsters and the heroes who fight them.
It's a gripping ride told with panache and style, character-driven speculative fiction adventure at its very best, and I for one can't wait to see its sequels.
The above review is excerpted from my Fall, 2003 review of the same book printed in *Black Gate* magazine. ([...]
on November 16, 2003
It's hard to find new ideas in vampire fiction. All the great stories have been told; even Anne Rice has become old hat. Finding a really good vampire novel that doesn't rehash old matter is a rare treat, and that's why I enjoyed reading Way of the Wolf.
Not that this is a perfect volume. Author E.E. Knight seems to have reduced two volumes into one here. This book is divided in two unequal halves. The longer first half establishes the character, setting, and back story for an intended series of novels. The second half begins the real story arc, one that isn't completed in this book. The two stories aren't grafted together perfectly, and the first half seems edited down from what may have been a novel-length first draft.
But the story is compelling, and the characters are engaging enough to draw the reader through some of the slower exposition in the first part of the book. Combining the vampire novel with another staple of fantastic fiction, the post-apocalypse, this novel is simultaneously reminiscent of Dracula and A Canticle for Leibowitz.
A story this inclusive could easily devolve into tasteless pablum, but Knight is a strong enough writer to keep the work strong and flowing. The episodic nature suggests this book would translate well into a movie or, preferably, a TV mini-series, yet is literary enough to justify being written as a novel. Even the word choice is subtle enough to create moods without having to spell everything out all at once.
I would have liked to see more of the plot threads from the first half of the novel carried into the second half. By this I mean Gabrielle Cho, who seems to disappear from the narrative when she's no longer an part of the direct action. However, for an action-driven novel, it's far superior to most of what gets produced today.
This is the first novel in a series, and the debut novel from its author. It pops it's eminently readable, and it suggests wonderful future possibilities from Knight. I look forward to the second volume, and more, from this promising new author.