*This title will be released on May 1, 2012*
|Title: By the Blood of Heroes
Author: Joseph Nassise
Series: The Great Undead War #1
Cover Art: N/A
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Steampunk
Reviewed by: Kristina
An alternate history zombie novel set during World War I that blends the take-no-prisoners heroic grit of Inglorious Basterds with the irreverent inventiveness of Dawn of the Dead…
At the end of 1917, the increasingly desperate Germans introduce a new gas to the battlefield: T-Leiche — “corpse gas” — that radically alters the face of the war. Unlike other chemical weapons that attack the living, T-Leiche resurrects the bodies of the dead, giving the enemy an almost unlimited, if not quite fresh, source of troops.
When legendary Allied pilot and war poster-boy Major Jack Freeman is shot down and taken captive by the Germans, veteran Captain Michael “Madman” Burke is the only man fearless and wild enough to try to rescue the American Ace. With a small squad of heroes — his right-hand man Sergeant Moore, Clayton Manning, the filthy rich big-game hunter turned soldier, and professor Dan Richards, Tesla protege and the resident authority on all things supernatural — Burke must traverse the putrid ground of no man’s land to infiltrate the enemy’s lines.
Using an experimental dirigible, the team faces incredible danger and finds risk and peril at every turn, including ruthless traitor smugglers and marauding bands of the Kaiser’s undead. But only when they arrive at the prison camp is the true importance of their mission unveiled. Now, they just have to get back to their own trenches – if they can stay undead, that is.
I thought BY THE BLOOD OF HEROES was going to be a simple ‘killing the undead horde of zombies with very large guns’ tale but it ended up being a much larger war story with very serious implications not only for the heroes but for the world if the wrong side won. The zombies, or shamblers as they are called, are used as weapons of war by the Germans against the Allied forces during WWI. Learning about the advancements in the corpse gas technology was very creepy as it went beyond just raising the dead. The experiments (done on both the dead and living) with the corpse gas elevated the horror to a frightening new level that was all too reminiscent of the Holocaust experiments carried out by the Nazis.
One thing that I didn’t like about this book was the overly technical aspects thrown into the action scenes. While it was interesting to have a dogfight (aka: fighter jet fight) scene, I had a hard time grasping what was happening as I am not familiar with planes and military terminology.
Frustration over the technical jargon aside, the story connected well between the three character narrations as Burke goes on his mission to save Major Jack Freeman. Richthofen’s narration was especially enjoyable as I liked being let in on the antagonist’s thoughts and ideas just to see if I could understand his motives at all or if he is just plain crazy. Richthofen’s motives were definitely on the crazy side but understanding his brand of crazy helped to truly immerse me in the story from all sides. Of the three narrations, I was the least interested in Freeman’s because his story was basically static as a POW with absolutely no means of escape until Burke’s team came. I did like learning more about shamblers along with Freeman but was impatient to get to Burke’s action or Richthofen’s plotting bad guy narrations.
Overall, I enjoyed seeing an alternate history in regards to WWI with not only shambler-making-technology but steampunk elements including mechanical prosthetic arms, dirigibles, and Tesla inspired weapons and technology. BY THE BLOOD OF HEROES mixes a creepy zombie apocalypse scenario with a dash of steampunk to make an action packed story full of heroism from a bygone era.