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Way of the Wolf
E.E. Knight
Roc, 391 pages


Art: Koveck
Way of the Wolf
E.E. Knight
E.E. Knight was born in LaCrosse, Wisconsin and grew up near the Twin Cities in Minnesota. He graduated from Northern Illinois University with a double major in History and Political Science, had a number of jobs that had nothing to do with history or political science, and now resides in Chicago.

E.E. Knight Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Choice of the Cat
SF Site Review: Way of the Wolf
SF Site Interview: E.E. Knight

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Adam Volk

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In a genre where originality is often a precious commodity, first time novelist E.E Knight has managed to successfully blend together the best elements of horror, post-apocalyptic fiction, and military SF, into a novel that stands alone as a unique and entertaining read.

Way of the Wolf -- the first in Knight's Vampire Earth series -- follows the burgeoning career of Lieutenant David Valentine, a hard-bitten survivor in a post-apocalyptic world teeming with madness and death. The year is 2065 and, for forty-three years, Earth has been dominated by the Kurian Order, a race of demonic, Lovecraftian entities that arrived through a series of interdimensional portals. Vampiric in nature, the Kurians feed on the life essence of all living beings, essentially stripping human beings of their very souls. Operating from the shadows, the Kurian orders are carried out by the Reapers, dark cloaked beings that possess super-human strength and the ability to transfer life essence to their sadistic masters.

In the crumbling ruins of North American civilization, the majority of humanity sides with the Kurians, living under a yoke of fear and oppression, and eking out a sparse existence in the dreaded wasteland known as the Kurian Zone.

For a small handful of survivors however, the struggle is far from over. A determined resistance has sprung up in the form of the Free Territories, a massive area of the Midwestern United States offering the last bastion of human civilization in the face of the encroaching Kurian Order. These determined freedom fighters and scattered settlers are determined to win back the Earth by any means necessary -- even at the cost of their very lives. At the tip of the spear are the Wolves, an elite band of Free Territory guerrillas trained to operate behind enemy lines and battle the superior forces of the Kurians. Ruthless, deadly and cunning, Valentine is one young Wolf, fighting for his sanity and his life in the devastated remains of civilization.

The story itself follows the now familiar narrative tropes of the young soldiers' tale; from Valentine's initiation into the ranks, to his first frontline combat experience and eventual transformation into a hardened veteran. As a purely military-based tale, many of the elements will be overly familiar to readers who enjoy the works of David Drake and John Ringo, but they work well despite their clichéd nature, and manage to hold the story together. Knight however, takes the concept one step further, developing Way of the Wolf as more than a simple action orientated adventure yarn. Essentially, this is a book about the choices that soldiers make, and Knight fleshes out his characters beautifully, presenting them as tragic figures that must weigh the balance between their own humanity with the brutality and madness of war. Valentine himself is an extremely well-developed and likable character, driven by complex emotions and growing as the story progresses.

Knight also excels in his solid grasp of dialogue, particularly in the realistic banter between fellow soldiers, and also displays an admiral skill in showing the details of his complex world, rather than bombarding the reader with obligatory information.

It is this careful attention to world building, where Knight truly shines. Way of the Wolf presents the Vampire Earth as a setting that has been painstakingly crafted, with lush details that immerse the reader in an environment that is both horrifying and fascinating at the same time. It is these details that allow the reader to overlook Knight's occasionally rushed narrative style, particularly in the conclusion, which seems somewhat forced and hurried (though still satisfying enough to intrigue most readers with the possibility of future titles).

In the end, Way of the Wolf is a highly entertaining read. Knight is clearly within his element in this break-through novel, and displays the ability to blend a thoughtful story-line and intriguing world with nail-biting action sequences. The novel itself remains entirely original in its conception as well, masterfully blending multiple genres into a satisfying tale. Knight is an author who understands his world and his characters, and it is this grasp, which ultimately makes Way of the Wolf a unique, well-written and entertaining read; a wonderful first novel from a promising new talent.

Copyright © 2004 Adam Volk

Adam Volk may or may not be a zombie cyborg. He is also an editor with EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing (www.edgewebsite.com), a freelance writer, a comic book creator and a regular reviewer for the Silver Bullet Comic Books website (www.silverbulletcomicbooks.com.).


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