Way of the Wolf (Vampire Earth Series #1)

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Overview

Louisiana, 2065. A lot has changed in the forty-third 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 ...

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Way of the Wolf (Vampire Earth Series #1)

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Overview

Louisiana, 2065. A lot has changed in the forty-third 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 Wolves—an elite guerrilla force sworn to win back Earth—Valentine leads his 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 awaits him beyond his wildest nightmares.

Bonus Audio: Includes an exclusive introduction by author E.E. Knight.

This chilling debut novel introduces David Valentine, a young soldier in an uphill struggle to rid the Earth of vampiric conquerors.

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Editorial Reviews

Fred Saberhagen
The Way of the Wolf is a winner. If you're going to read only one more post-apocalyptic novel, make it this one.
Ronald Fraser
To begin with, The Way of the Wolf isn't exactly fantasy, it isn't exactly science fiction and it isn't exactly horror. To be honest, that's one of its strengths. It uses the tropes of each of these genres to full affect, the whole of the work greater than the sum of those parts. There are even, as the author readily admits, cinematic elements and elements of American literature insinuated into the story. To say that there is a little bit for everyone may be an overgeneralization, but I feel safe to say (it)... for fantasy, science-fiction and horror readers at large.

"Though information about the setting is slowly revealed, the setting itself has depth. This is a real place, if only on the pages of this novel (and hopefully more novels set in the same setting that will come). There is no trickery, the author has visited this world. He has laid it forth for us in the novel, so we can travel there too. I will not compare this to some of the giants of the industry, past or present, because that would be hardly fair, this being a first novel, but I must say that the worldbuilding, as evidenced in the writing, is evocative and believable.

"Is this an instant classic? I'm sorry, but no. Is this an excellent first novel which offers us a glimpse at an emerging talent? Absolutely. E. E. Knight has offered up a novel that is at least the equal to anything out there now, and surpasses many other works.
atFantasy.com

From The Critics
David Valentine will stay in my mind for weeks to come.This is a book about his education, his initiation as a warrior. In spite of his toughness, his mercilessness with his enemies, there is a saint-like naivete about him that makes him irresistible.

"The last part of the book is highly suspenseful. I read the last hundred pages in one sitting. I just couldn't put it down." (eBook Reviews Weekly)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781441815583
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio
  • Publication date: 1/15/2010
  • Series: Vampire Earth Series , #1
  • Format: MP3 on CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

E. E. Knight was born in Wisconsin, grew up in Minnesota and now calls Chicago home, where he abides in domestic felicity with a spouse, a young son, and assorted pets. He invites readers to visit his Web site at vampjac.com or his blog, Bohemian Word Werks.
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Read an Excerpt

It came, full of awful speed and power. A cloaked figure charged into the light, seeming to fly over the ground in a blur of motion.

"Hood!" a Wolf shouted, squeezing off a shot and working the bolt on his rifle. The caped-and-cowled figure made a leap twenty feet from the barn, crashing bodily through the old planks and beams as if they were papier-mâché.

The Reaper landed on all fours, arms and legs splayed like a spider. Before a gun could be turned in its direction, it sprang at the nearest Wolf, a shovel-bearded wedge of a man named Selbey. It was upon him before he could bring up his gun. The Hood's satchel-sized mouth opened to display ebony pointed teeth. Inhumanly large jaws sank into Selbey's arm, thrown up in defense. The Wolf's scream matched those from outside as the thing opened its mouth to bite again.

Valentine grabbed a candle-flare from Patel's two remaining at the south door. He thrust the candle into the lantern, waiting for it to sputter into life. It caught on after an eternity, and he ran towards the Hood.

The thing raised its blood-smeared face from the twitching victim to receive the burning end in its eye. It howled out its fury and pain and slapped the candle out of Valentine's hand with the speed of a leopard's paw. The flaming wand fell to the ground as the thing rose. The Reaper's menacing black shadow seemed to fill the wall of the barn. Death reached for Valentine, who struggled to draw his blade from its sheath in time.

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Table of Contents

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First Chapter

Northern Louisiana, the forty-third year of the Kurian Order: The green expanse once known as the Kisatchie Forest slowly digests the works of man. A forest in name only, it is a jungle of wet heat and dead air, a fetid overflowing of swamps, bayous, and backwaters. The canopy of interwoven cypress branches shrouded in Spanish moss creates a gloom so thick that twilight rules even at midday. In the muted light, collapsing houses subside every which way as roadside stops decay in vine-choked isolation, waiting for traffic that will not return.

A long file of people is moving among moss-covered trunks to the piping cries of startled birds. At the front and rear of the column are men and women in buckskin, faces tanned to the same weather-beaten color as their leather garments. They carry sheathed rifles in a number of different manners, but all are ready to use their weapons at the first hint of danger. The guns are for the defense of five clusters of families clad in ill-fitting lemon overalls. Patches of brighter color under the arms and along the inner thighs suggest the garments once glowed a vivid optic yellow, now faded from heavy use. A string of five pack-mules follows behind them under the guidance of teenage versions of the older warriors.

At the head of the column, well behind a pair of silent scouts, a young man scans the trail. He still has some of the awkward gangliness of youth, but his dark eyes hold a canny depth. His shoulder-length black hair, tightly tied at the back of his head, shines like a raven's feathers even in the half-light. Between his dusky skin and buckskin garb, he could be mistaken for a native resident of this area three centuries before: perhaps the son of some wandering French trapper and a Choctaw maiden. His long-fingered hands wander across his heavy belt, from holstered pistol to binoculars, touching the haft of his broad-bladed parang before moving on to the canteens at his waist. A scratched and battered compass case dangles from a black nylon cord around his neck, and a stout leather map tube bumps his back from its slung position. Unlike his men, he is hatless. He turns now and again to check the positions of his soldiers and to examine the faces of his yellow-clad dependents as if gauging how much distance is left in their weary bodies. But his restless eyes do not remain off the trail for long, they always return to scouting ahead .


If they come, they'll come tonight. Lieutenant David Valentine returned to that thought again as the masked sun vanished below the horizon, turning the overcast into waves of color . He had hoped to get his charges further north of the old interstate before nightfall, but progress had slowed on this, their fourth day out from Red River Crossing. He and his Wolves shielded twenty-seven men, women, and children who had decided to make the dangerous run to freedom. The families were now adapted to the rigors of the trail, and followed orders well. But as they came from a world where disobedience meant death, that trait was understandable.

By themselves, the detachment of Wolves would already be in the Free Territory. But Valentine was determined to see the escaping Red River farmhands brought safely north. The yellow-clad group had crossed the final barrier, the road and rail line connecting Dallas with the Mississippi at Vicksburg, four hours ago. Then Valentine had driven them another two miles. Now they had little left to give.

It was hard to quiet his mind, with so much to think about on his first independent command in the Kurian Zone. And quieting his mind, keeping lifesign down, was literally a question of life and death with night coming on. The Reapers read lifesign better at night, and he knew his charges were giving off enough to be read for miles even in the depths of the Kisatchie.

Being a Wolf was as much a matter of mental as physical discipline, for the Reapers sensed the activity of human minds, especially when fearful and tense. Every Wolf had a method of subsuming consciousness into a simpler, almost feral level. But burdened with new responsibilities and with night swallowing the forest, Valentine struggled against the worries that shot up like poisonous weeds in his mind.

A trilling call from ahead broke into his anxieties. Valentine raised his arm, halting the column. Garnett, one of his scouts, gestured to him.

"Water, sir, in that little holler, " the scout reported as Valentine came up to take a look. "Looks safe enough."

"Good. We'll rest there for an hour," Valentine said, loudly enough for the column to hear. "No more. We're still too close to the road to camp."

The spirits of the Wolves and the farm families brightened in contrast to the deepening night as they drank from the spring trickling down the side of a shallow ravine. Some removed shoes and rubbed aching feet. Valentine unscrewed the cap on his plastic canteen, waiting until the families and his men had a chance to drink.

A faint yelping echoed from the south. Wolves dived for cover behind trees and fallen logs. The yellow-clad families, who lacked the ability to hear the baying, shrank together in alarm at the sudden movement.

Sgt. Patel, Valentine's senior non-commissioned officer, appeared at his elbow. "Dogs? Very bad luck, sir. Or?"

Valentine, careening along in his runaway train of thought, only half-heard Patel's words. The families broke out in noisy consternation.

"Silence," Valentine rasped at the civilians, his voice cracking with unaccustomed harshness. "Sergeant, who knows this area best?"

Patel's eyes did not leave the woods to the south. "Maybe Lugger, sir. Or the scouts. Lugger pulled a lot of patrols in this area, I think her people lived westaways."

"Would you get her, please?"

Patel pointed to and brought up Lugger, a seasoned veteran whose limber, sparse frame belied her name. She held her rifle in alabaster knuckles.

"Sir?" she breathed.

"Lugger, we may have to do some shooting soon," Valentine said in an undertone, trying not to alarm the unsettled civilians. "Where's a good spot for it?"

Her eyes wandered skyward in thought. "There's an old barn we used to use on patrol. West of here, more like northwest. Concrete foundation, and the loft is in good shape."

"How long to get there?"

"Under an hour, sir, even with them," she said, jerking her chin toward the huddled families. Their yellow overalls now looked bluish in the darkness. Valentine nodded encouragement.

"Solid foundation," she repeated. "And a big water trough. We used to keep it filled with a rain catcher."

"Not the direction I wanted to go, but it will have to do. Mallow's more to the east," Valentine said. Mallow, the senior Lieutenant of Zulu Company, had remained in the borderlands with a cache of supplies to help them make it the rest of the way to the Ozark Free Territory. He considered something else. "Think you could find the rendezvous at night?"

"God willing, sir," she responded after a moment's cogitation.

"Then take your team and go. Ask Mallow to come with everything he can."

"Yes, sir. But I don't need my team to keep me company. I think you'll need every gun you got before morning," she said, unslinging her rifle.

Valentine nodded. "Let's not waste time then. Tell Patel where to go, then run for our lives."

Lugger gave her rifle to the senior aspirant, spoke briefly to Patel and the scouts, then disappeared into the darkness. Valentine listened with hard ears to her fading footfalls, as fast as his beating heart, and thought please Mallow, for God's sake forget about the supplies and come quick.

As his men dusted the area around the spring with red pepper, Valentine approached the frightened families.

"They found us?" asked Fred Brugen, the patriarch of the group. Valentine smiled into their dirty, tired faces.

"We heard something behind us. Could be they cut our trail, could be a dog got the wrong end of a skunk. But as I said, we have to play it safe and move to a better place to sleep. Sorry to cut the halt short."

The refugees winced and tightened their mouths at the news, but did not complain. Complainers disappeared in the night in the Kurian Zone.

"The good news is that we're really close to a place we can rest and get a hot meal or two. Personally, I'm getting sick of cornbread and jerky." He squatted down to the kids' level and forced some extra enthusiasm into his voice. "Who wants hotcakes for breakfast tomorrow morning?"

The kids lit up like fireflies, nodding with renewed energy.

"Okay, then," he finished as he filled his canteen, forcing himself go through the motions nonchalantly. "Everybody take one more drink of water and let's go."

The aspirants somehow got the pack-mules moving, and the column trudged forward into the darkness. With curses matching the number of stumbles brought on by confusion and fatigue in the night, the column continued north. Valentine led the way. A rope around his waist stretched back to Sgt. Patel at the tail end of the file. He bade the families to hold onto it to keep everyone together in the dark.

One scout guided him and a second brought up the rear, in close contact with two fire-teams shepherding the column's tail, phosphorous candles ready. If the enemy was close enough for their dogs to be heard, the Reapers could be upon them at any moment. Valentine resigned himself to the orders he would give if they were set upon in the open: he would abandon his charges and flee north. Even a few Wolves were more valuable to the Free Territory than a couple of dozen farmers.

Valentine, continuing on that grim train of thought, decided that if he were a battle-hardened veteran from the campfire stories, he would stake the farmers out like goats to a prowling tiger, then ambush whatever took the bait. The death of the defenseless goat was worth getting the tiger. Those win-at-all-costs leaders from the old-world history books would never be swayed by sleepy voices repeatedly asking, "Is it much further, Momma?"

"Close up and move on. Close up and move on," Valentine said over his shoulder, hurrying along the column. Wolves picked up tired children, carrying them as easily as they bore their arms.

They found the farm exactly as Lugger had described. Her Wolf's eye for terrain and detailed memory of places and paths would astound anyone who did not know the caste.

The barn was a little bigger than Valentine would have liked with only twenty-two guns. No time to be picky, not with the Reapers on our trail , he thought. Anyplace with the trees cleared away and walls would have to do.

Garnett entered with blade unsheathed, covered by hunting bow and rifle. The parang - a shortened machete used by the Wolves - gleamed in the mist-shrouded moonlight. A few bats fluttered out, disturbed from their pursuit of insects among the rafters. The scout appeared at the loft door and waved the rest in. Valentine led the others inside, fighting a disquieting feeling that something was wrong. Perhaps his Indian blood perceived something tickling below his conscious threshold. He had spent enough time on the borders of the Kurian Zone to know that his sixth sense was worth paying attention to, though hard to qualify. The danger was too near somehow, but ill defined. He finally dismissed it as the product of overwrought nerves.

Valentine inspected the sturdy old barn. The water trough was full, which was good, and there were shaded lanterns and oil, which was better.

Patel posted the men to the doors, windows and holes in the time-ravaged structure. The exhausted families threw themselves down in a high-walled inner corner. Valentine made for the ladder to the hayloft. Someone had repaired a few of the rungs, he noticed as he went up squeaking wood. From the loft he watched his second scout, Gonzalez, backing into the barn, rifle pointed into the darkness.

"Gonzo's got wind of 'em sir," Garnett reported from his perch at the upper door. "He always gets bug-eyed when they're around."

Three Wolves from downstairs joined them and took positions on each side of the barn. Valentine glanced down through a gap in the loft floor to the lower level, where Patel talked quietly to Gonzalez in the dim light of a screened lantern. Both glanced up into the loft. Gonzalez nodded and climbed the ladder.

"Sir, the Sarge wanted me to show you this," he reported, extending a filthy and stinking piece of cloth drawn from his pocket.

Valentine reached out to take the rag when a chorus of shrieks sounded from down the hill in the direction of the old road. He spun and ran to the wide loft door.

Garnett cursed. "Ravies, goddamn Ravies!"

The banshee wailing out of the midnight mists turned the back of his neck into a bristle-brush. They're here! He bent to the gap in the floor and called out to the Wolves. "Keep to your posts, look to your fronts! The Ravies might be a ruse. They could be on top of the hill already."

He ran to the ladder and clambered down the rungs two at a time, driving a splinter into the flesh opposite his thumb in his haste. Wincing, he unsnapped the leather strap of his parang sheath and drew his revolver.

"Uncle, the candles," he shouted, but Patel knew better than to wait for an order. The veteran sergeant already stood at the gaping southern door lighting one. A Wolf opened a lantern door so he could thrust it in. The high, feminine shrieking in the night grew louder.

The candle burst into flame, filling the barn with blue-white light and sharp black shadows. Patel wound up and threw the burning flare down the slope they had just traversed. Before it landed he lit another and hurled it into the darkness as well. Other Wolves copied him, tossing candles in each direction.

Valentine stared down the hill, transfixed by a mob emerging into the glare. Running figures with arms thrashing as if trying to swim through the air swept up toward the barn. Seemingly endless supplies of wind powered their screams. The siren wail was paralyzing. They were human, or what amounted to human considering their minds burned with madness, but with the wasted look of corpses and sparse streams of unkempt hair. Few wore more than tatters of clothing; most ran naked their skin pale in the light of burning phosphorus.

"Don't let 'em in close enough to bite. Drop 'em, goddammit!" Patel bellowed.

Shots rang out in the enclosed lower level of the barn. A few Ravies fell, one rising again with blood pouring from his neck, to stagger a few paces and fall once more, this time for good. Another had a bullet tear through her shoulder, spinning her around like a puppet with tangled strings. She regained her balance and came on, screaming all the while. A scrawny ten-year-old boy stepped on one of the flaring candles without a glance.

Valentine watched as the human wave approached, dribbling bodies as the Wolves' bullets told. He knew the Ravies served as a distraction for something else lurking in the night. He felt the Reaper stalking his mind, approaching from the darkness, even if he could not see its body.

It came, full of awful speed and power. A cloaked figure charged into the light, seeming to fly over the ground in a blur of motion.

"Hood!" a Wolf shouted, squeezing off a shot and working the bolt on his rifle. The caped-and-cowled figure made a leap twenty feet from the barn, crashing bodily through the old planks and beams as if they were papier-mâché.

The Reaper landed on all fours, arms and legs splayed like a spider. Before a gun could be turned in its direction, it sprang at the nearest Wolf, a shovel-bearded wedge of a man named Selbey. It was upon him before he could bring up his gun. The Hood's satchel-sized mouth opened to display ebony pointed teeth. Inhumanly large jaws sank into Selbey's arm, thrown up in defense. The Wolf's scream matched those from outside as the thing opened its mouth to bite again.

Chaos reigned as the farmhands began running. Wolves at the exits had to restrain them, taking up precious seconds when they should have been employing their guns. One Wolf pumped shot after shot, working the lever action rifle from his hip, into the Reaper pressing Selbey to the detritus-covered floor. The Reaper seemed immune to the bullets hitting its heavy robes.

Valentine grabbed a candle-flare from Patel's two remaining at the south door. He thrust the candle into the lantern, waiting for it to sputter into life. It caught on after an eternity, and he ran towards the Hood.

The thing raised its blood-smeared face from the twitching victim to receive the burning end in its eye. It howled out its fury and pain and slapped the candle out of Valentine's hand with the speed of a leopard's paw. The flaming wand fell to the ground as the thing rose. The Reaper's menacing black shadow seemed to fill the wall of the barn. Death reached for Valentine, who struggled to draw his blade from its sheath in time.

A bullet caught the Reaper in the armpit, staggering it. A heavier leather-clad missile hurled itself onto the Hood's back. Patel's body-blow brought it down, and using every ounce of his formidable strength the Sergeant managed to keep it on the floor until Valentine brought his machete onto the back of its neck. The blade bit deep into flesh and bone, but failed to sever the head. Oily black ink poured from the wound, but still the thing rose, rolling Patel off with a heave. The Sergeant fought on and bore down on one arm, ignoring the deadly teeth opening for him. Valentine lashed out again with his machete, catching it under the jaw. The Reaper's head arced off to land with a thud next to Selbey's lifeless body.

"Jesus, they're in, they're in!" someone shouted.

A few Ravies, ghoulishly white in the glare of the candle, clambered through the gap in the wall created by the decapitated Reaper. Valentine shifted his parang to his left hand and reached for his pistol. The empty holster turned the movement into comic mime as he realized he had dropped the gun while getting the candle. But other Wolves drew their pistols, snapshooting at the shrieking forms.

The screaming grew into a chorus: a Ravie plunged in among the families. Valentine rushed to the corner to find the howling lunatic pinned against the wall by a man who'd had the presence of mind to grab an old pitchfork when the fight started. The Ravie had both hands on the haft of the weapon, trying to wrench the tines out of her belly, when Valentine came in, swinging his parang to strike and strike and strike again until she sank lifeless to the floor, at long last silent.

The screaming outside had ceased. A final bullet or two ended the spasms of the few crawling, crippled targets still living and therefore still dangerous. The men in the loft called downstairs, in anxiety over their comrades. Valentine ignored the chatter and saw with a kind of weary grief that the impaled Ravie had bitten one of the wives. He went to check on Patel. The husky Sergeant was on his feet, one arm hanging limp and useless, Valentine's pistol in his working hand.

Patel handed the pistol back to the Lieutenant. "Quiet, up there, and keep your eyes peeled," the Sergeant shouted at the uncomprehending floorboards above. He held his hurt arm closer to his body, grimacing.

"Broken collar bone, I think," he explained. "Could be my shoulder is out as well. Are you okay, sir?"

"Hell, Patel, enough is enough. Next it'll be 'I hope you liked your drink.' Let's get that arm in a sling, for a start." Valentine motioned an idle Wolf over to help his sergeant. He saw another of his men bandaging the Ravie bite on the woman as her family anxiously crowded around. "We've got a widower there who doesn't know it yet," he said, sotto voce. His sergeant nodded with sad understanding, and Valentine thought of Patel's family. They had been taken by the Raving Madness five years ago.

The Lieutenant walked through his shaken command, checking on his men, and came into the corner sheltering the escapees. He shot a significant glance at his Wolf attending to the woman; the man caught the hint and nodded. "The bleeding's stopped already, sir."

"Quick action, Mosley. Grab someone and get that," he pointed at the lifeless Ravie, "out of here."

The candles outside were sputtering out. Valentine walked over to the ladder, intending to visit the men upstairs. Whoever loosed the Ravies might still be out there?

when the floor suddenly tilted beneath his feet. Thrown to the floor, he saw an albino-white arm open a heavy trap door in an explosion of dirt, dried leaves and twigs.

The barn had a cellar.

The Reaper got halfway out of the trapdoor as the bullets zipped over Valentine's head. His Wolves, still keyed up from the fight, aimed their guns with lethal speed and pumped bullet after bullet into the yellow-eyed creature. Under the point-blank crossfire from five directions, the black-robed shape jerked wildly and fell back into the basement.

"Grenades," Valentine bellowed. Three of his men gathered at the trapdoor, now shooting down with pistols.

Striking matches or using the lanterns, two Wolves lit fuses on the baseball-sized bombs and hurled them down the square hole. Valentine grabbed the trap door and flung it shut. The rusty hinges squealed their complaints.

The first explosion threw the door forever off its aged fastenings and the second boomed with an ear-splitting roar. Smoke mushroomed from the square hole.

The Reaper sprang from the gap like something a magician had conjured from the smoke, arms nothing but two tarry stumps and head a bony mask of horror. Even with its face blown off, the Reaper was on its feet and running, seeming to favor them with a splay-toothed grin. The guns rang out again, but the apparition fled through the exit, knocking Patel aside like a bowling pin in the path of a cannon ball as the Sergeant attempted another body-blow. A tattered and smoldering cape streaming out behind it as it ran, the Reaper disappeared into the darkness.

Some of the children had hands over their ears, screaming in pain. Valentine tried to shake the drunken, underwater sensation that seemed to come over him, but it was no use. The acrid air of the barn seemed too thick to allow breathing. He staggered to the doorjamb and vomited into the night.

An hour later, with the barn cleared of bodies except for the unfortunate Selbey, who lay in his woolen blanket in the empty blackness of the blasted cellar, Gonzalez again troubled Valentine. His scout, after asking for permission to speak privately in the loft, presented him with the filthy strip of cloth.

Valentine examined the excrement-stained yellow rag with tired eyes.

"Uncle smelled something, sir, you know? He told me to check the area where we heard the bloodhounds real careful after everyone pulled out. I found this in the bushes where the Red River people?err, relieved themselves, sir," Gonzalez elaborated, half whispering.

He read the semi-literate scrawl by lantern light: "N + W, barn, about 20 gun, yrs trly."

Betrayal. That explains a thing or two. But which one is yrs trly ? Valentine wondered. He remembered a couple of the farmhands had hurried to the bushes as they assembled for the flight to the barn. He hadn't thought anything of it at the time: the fear in the night had turned his own bowels to water as well.

He gathered three Wolves from downstairs and explained what he wanted to do when the sun came up.

Mallow and his reserve platoon arrived shortly before the sun, relieving him of some of the responsibility for the morning's actions. He suppressed the urge to hug the panting Lugger, who looked as tired as Valentine felt.

The Senior Lieutenant heard his report with a low whistle. "One in the basement, huh? You had some bad luck, rookie. But it could have been worse. Good thing the bastard pulling the strings wasn't good enough to work more than one at a time." Mallow shook his head and offered Valentine a congratulatory swig of busthead from a tiny silver flask.

Valentine tippled gratefully, remembering his mother's warning about men who drank before noon. Well, the sun wasn't up yet, so it didn't quite constitute morning.

"I think they had a little help, sir. Someone was sending the Hoods love-notes. They knew we'd make for that barn, brought up the Ravies and had everything ready."

"Aw, Christ," Mallow groaned. "Some clodhopper thought he'd be up for a brass ring, huh?"

"Seems like."

"What a welcome to Free Territory. One of their own dangling from a tree. No, I'll let them handle it back at the Fort."

"I lost a Wolf, sir. They'll want quick justice." Valentine had hoped they would settle for a formal trial later, but the looks on his detail's faces when he told them why he wanted the farmers searched made him doubtful.

Mallow clouded over. "They'll obey orders, Valentine, or they'll see some quick justice. Tell 'em that, if you must."

"Yessir."

Mallow stepped inside the barn. The sky to the east was pinking, ending the longest night of Valentine's young life. He nodded to his waiting Wolves, and they roused the sleepy farmers and began checking pockets and packs.

They had barely begun when the guilty party revealed himself. A sixteen-year-old boy, the one whose mother was bitten last night, bolted for the gaping south doors. Two of Mallow's Wolves interposed and restrained him. Valentine found a charcoal pencil wrapped in two more rags of cloth, as well as a small compass.

"A kid, whaddaya know," one of the men sighed. A couple of others swore.

The boy broke down, alternating threats and curses in between sobs. His ashen-faced father held his distraught wife. She already trembled with the weakness of the first stage of the disease that would claim her life within two or three more days, when she would have to be shot like a rabid dog. Mallow and Patel ignored the grieving parents and questioned the boy in time-honored good cop/bad cop fashion.

"Who put you up to this, boy?" Mallow asked, leaning to put his face below the boy's downcast eyes. "What did they promise you? If it were up to this guy here, he'd snap your neck with his good arm. I can't help you unless you talk to me. Tell you what, you leave another note, only write on it what we tell you, and you won't get hung. Can't promise anything else, but you won't hang."

The boy's fear exploded into anger. "You don't get it, do you? They're in charge, not you. They make the laws, they run the show. An' when they get tired of you, you'll be emptied an' the Grogs'll have the leftovers! Them that don't want to die gotta go along with orders."

Valentine, sick with fatigue, stepped outside to watch the dawn. As the yellow-orange sun burned through the morning haze, he wondered what doom of fate had selected him to be born into such a fucked-up time.

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Introduction

"The history of Vampire Earth is something I've worked on for about eight years. The world is a stew containing ingredients from all the pulp influences of my youth: R. E. Howard's Conan, H. P. Lovecraft's erudite heroes, C. S. Forester's Horatio Hornblower, and Louis L'Amour's tough Apaches and Western villains. As I grew older I learned to appreciate Tolkien and Lewis, Bradbury and Heinlein. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then I'm flattering those and many others with my milieu. One interesting thing I discovered in my research is that many cultures have vampire legends, not just European ones as described in Stoker's Dracula. The creatures I describe come from many of these sources, as well as my own imagination. I hope that readers will enjoy experiencing my work as much as I enjoyed creating it."
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 105 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(46)

4 Star

(35)

3 Star

(11)

2 Star

(9)

1 Star

(4)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 105 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2008

    A reviewer

    I'm an avid reader of everything from highbrow literature to Shakespeare to sci-fi and horror. This is one of the best books I've read in a long time - and I wasn't expecting it. I happened to get a free copy...and am so delighted. I'm now going to buy the rest in the series. Fantastic post-apocalypse...and vampire theme. If you're looking for a Dracula or Anne Rice bit, you won't find it. But if you're looking for a new way to play with the vampire genre, then welcome aboard. A cross between 1984 and monster horror...very appropriate as a warning of human nature.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 20, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Not what I thought it was going to be.

    After getting into the first chapter I couldn't put the book down. I have read the Brian Lumley Vampire novels and others as well, but I love the way E.E. Knight weaves in the elements of the story of how the Kurians came about. The post apocalyptic thing did't excite me at first. Then, it tells you how it all came about bit by bit and sucks you in. The Magic of the Lifeweavers creating warriors out of normal humans and changing them forever into 1 of 3 seperate warrior castes is very intriguing and makes the book that much more interesting. It's one of those series that you'll read over and over. I recommend it to anyone with an open mind and a love for fiction.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 6, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Way of the Wolf (Vampire Series Earth)

    I just finish this book and well on my way on the second in the series. I was not too sure about reading this series fearing another vampire novel that has Dracula in it. But was I wrong. This is a whole new approach to having vampires on Earth. It is thrilling and easy to get involved with the characters and plot. I encourage anyone who wants to read a good long series to start with this this one. So far...so good.
    Sam

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 12, 2006

    Terrible Disappointment

    Compared to the hype I have heard about this series it was a disappointing first book. I thought that it jumped strangely during the first few chapters and then never returned to that raid¿you never got to see what happened. The rest of the book was a chronological story that was well written, but I disliked the way the history was worked in such a disjointed way. I will read part 2 of this series, simply because I have heard what a great book the last one was, but I don¿t think I could get through all the books if they are this poorly written.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 13, 2003

    Awesome book

    Fully realized characters, tight plot lines, excellant world building and descriptive writing good enough to make me feel I'd been there. Could not reccomend this book more.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 7, 2003

    Very Impressive New Author

    This was an outstanding read. I was very impressed with this book and the author. It appears that a lot of research has gone into this book. I get tired of the 'same old vampire' books... I thought that everything had been used. I was wrong. 'Way of the Wolf' is very unique. I could not put the book down. At first, I was not impressed with the description on the back flap of the book... but I am glad that I bought it anyway. Now I want to know what will happen next... and can't wait for the next book: 'Choice of the Cat'.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 12, 2014

    Gritty and imersive world

    The characters seem real. The bad guys are really bad and the writer avoids cliches of the vampires. It was a page turner

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 12, 2013

    Loved it. I love books with a journey. This has it.

    Loved it. I love books with a journey. This has it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2012

    OMg Om OMH OMG

    I love this book mothertrucker yall suck a big one u no life rejects.ya buddie

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2012

    A good buy.

    A+

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  • Posted November 2, 2011

    Good read

    A mixture of aliens and a SHTF scenario sending us back decades in how to live. Not a bad read.

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  • Posted August 2, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Worth a read

    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!

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  • Posted June 21, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Mmmm meh.

    If you want to read a horror story written by Mary Higgins Clark read this series. The series is...(meh shrug) It was Ok. I feel like the main character is just a little too lucky...he just seems to be drifting thru the story saving everyone. Id say the 2nd book in the series the story get a bit better...Sorry I just finished reading this book and yet I don't have anything very memorable to say...it was just that...meh

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 11, 2011

    Good Book

    If you like futurist and what if books, you would like this one. It tells about the earth in the year of 2060 but stuff happened in 2022 to change the world as we know it. It talks about a guy named David Valentine who wants to helps make the world back to the way it was.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2011

    very good

    A very interesting read. I highly recomend it. it is now one of my favorite books and i couldnt put it down i read it all in one sitting.

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  • Posted July 15, 2010

    A change of pace..

    for me. After getting board with the same old fantasy stuff, I thought I would try this series and I am glad that I did. It's very different than the standard vampire stories that I have seen in the movies. It was pretty much non stop action from start to finish. I like the fact of Knight turning an alien invasion into a vampire style story. I am already starting the 2nd book, and looking forward to going through the series.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 8, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    What a horrible book

    I really can't believe I made it through the end of the book. First, I liked Knight's new world order and he did a decent enough job of explaining it to keep me interested. Apart from this, the book was just poorly written, confusing, and inconsistent. I have no idea what point of the first section of the book had to do with the rest of the book. The author never came back to it. In fact I think he just completely forgot about the first section because later on in the book something completely different occurred during that same timeline; thus, leading me to believe that this book was not edited.
    The author's vocabulary was also awkward and some of the word's he used were just unnecessary. I think he made very good use of Microsoft Word's Synonym function.
    I expected a lot of action from this book and was disappointed. The main character seemed to get out of trouble fairly easy. The author puts his characters in tough situation and you think a lot is about to go down, but that's so not the case. The characters are able to extract themselves with little to no conflict. And you think to yourself, "That's it"?
    The main character was very bland. I could really care less if he lived or died.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 4, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Unique

    I like the way the author takes a unique approach to vampires in the first book of the series. Can't think of much to say except that I like the book and would recommend it to any sci-fi lover.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2006

    Very Good

    I am usually a fantasy lover. Like all of the books I read are fantasy. Once in a while I'll get a Star wars book. But this book is different. I was looking for something other than fantasy at the book store one day and I came across this. Once I read that it takes place in the year 2065 and earth is taken over by aliens I knew this was going to be my kind of book. Try this book. It's only 380 pages. You'll be hooked.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 18, 2004

    Excellent read

    once you start reading this book you cannot put it down until it is over. I'am really looking forward to the cat.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 105 Customer Reviews

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