Review of Thom Brannan’s “Lords of Night”
Lords of Night gets right to the heart of the story by introducing us to the main character Jack and his band of protectors, with their assortment of colorful nicknames, smack dab in the middle of their journey into the barren wastelands of what was once the eastern seaboard of the United States. They are somewhere between New York City and Washington D.C. when the story starts off, on mission to save the human race. Besides Jack, there is Five Oh, Dusty, Sandman, Rook, Zero, and the Ranger, who are all highly skilled ex-military men (except for the Ranger, who has his own unique set of skills). Much of the story is told in flashbacks, giving us a history of each of the secondary characters in their own words and how they dealt with the day the dead rose up and the world changed forever. Jack’s story, on the other hand, is told through the journal entries he makes during their trip, giving the reader both his back story and an understanding of why he is so special and critical to the survival of the human race.
While this book could be categorized as zombie apocalyptic fiction, the zombies here are very much secondary-little more than a nuisance controlled by far more powerful creatures. The author introduces the reader to the locust people-humans transformed into malicious monsters who serve their masters, the aforementioned Lords of Night. There are seven of these powerful fiends who serve the ancient enemy which came to earth from the stars long ago. They have re-awoken their master and Jack was a witness to its rebirth. The teenager has special talents that seemingly escaped the notice of the ancient enemy’s minions at first, but have since grown and have drawn them to him. While he doesn’t understand much of his role in things, he knows that within him is the potential key to stopping an enemy to mankind that is older than time itself which has plans for humanity that are far worse than complete annihilation.
Lords of Night moves at a rapid clip through the mission Jack needs to accomplish and the assortment of characters surrounding him are an interesting bunch, especially the Ranger and Zero. Zero is a cocky, lazy, talented marine recon sniper who (as the author aptly points out) is reminiscent of Hudson from the movie Aliens with his snarky ways and can’t-do attitude, as well as his ability to come through when absolutely necessary. The Ranger, another larger than life character, might be insane but in the best way possible given the perils Jack and the rest of the team face. His talented shooting ability and fearless loyalty in the face of all odds make him perhaps the most appealing character in the book. While these two steal the show, all six of Jack’s guardians are interesting, in fact far more so than Jack. The teen is likable and his story is compelling, but he is far less fun to read about than his companions.
The story is, turn by turn, more creative than most and gives the reader a unique spin on the typical apocalyptic horror novel. Again, the zombies found on these pages are secondary-the true menaces are the locust people and their masters, who have an evil intelligence and maliciousness that challenge Jack and his crew every step of the way. The history and ongoing saga of the ancient enemy gets almost a bit too complicated at times, including the nuances of the part Jack is to play, though it all becomes clear in the end. Twisty as it is, the story is sewn up quite effectively before the last page is turned.
Fans of apocalyptic fiction that are receptive to authors taking creative license on the traditional should enjoy Lords of Night. The main characters are well developed and the backstory is complex. The author perhaps is a bit over-protective of his characters-it takes quite a bit to send them to their demise, though that is in some ways a forgivable offense considering how entertaining they are as a team. That and the sometime slow pace found earlier in the story are my two main (and minor complaints) in what is otherwise a rollicking adventure tale.
Lords of Night can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Lords-Night-Thom-Brannan/dp/1618680307/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1393486184&sr=8-1