Book Review: Krimson by Thomas Emson

Hi all…

Vampires. In popular media today, vampires are more about masquerading as human in a human world than ripping your throat out and guzzling blood directly from your jugular vein with no pretense of any remaining humanity. These days, the word “vampire” tends to evoke images of wan, whiny teenagers or Civil War-era Louisiana gentlemen more than “cold blooded killers.”

Author Thomas Emson is working to change that. First with Skarlet in 2009 and now with the follow-up Krimson, Emson is embracing the monster in the vampire myth and providing hooks to thousands of years of history. And like the majority of human history, not all the monsters are inhuman. Sometimes it takes power-mad humans to resurrect the past even if they don’t quite understand the consequences of their actions…

In Skarlet, we were introduced to a modern-day London, England on the brink of change. A small group of men and women with bloodlines stretching back thousands of years have brought a drug to London’s youth. Distributed at a dance club called Religion, those who take the drug die and are reborn as vampiric killing machines with an unquenchable thirst for blood. One man – Iraqi war vet Jake Lawton – working as a bouncer at the club is drawn into this nightmare nobody can accept and fights against the monsters with a few companions he gains along the way.

What I loved about the first book was the use of multiple story lines from different eras of history. Emson incorporates the conquering of Babylon by Alexander the Great and battles between the Ottoman Turks and the British army in the 1920s alongside the Iraq War we’re still trying to finish and the modern day. Weaving in an alternate history based on real events made this a much more tangible tale to dive into.

Now with Krimson, the second book in the Vampire Trinity series, the story picks up three years later after the events of Skarlet. Jake is still fighting the good fight, but he’s getting tired. You can only go so long without sleep. And those left alive in positions of power in England are hunting him day and night, so his paranoia isn’t just due to exhaustion. He and his warrior woman Aaliyah have done damage to the vampire cause, but it’s like putting fingers in a dam about to burst – it’s impossible to cover all the cracks.

And like Skarlet, Emson does an amazing job of working an alternate history into the mix. This time it’s ancient Babylon and the time of Dracula in the mid-1400s. And though I wasn’t as surprised by the Babylon links this time around, I was very intrigued in how the Dracula myths were brought in. Again, the history set the stage for the events in the present day and was seamlessly integrated into what started in that first book.

After reading Zombie Brittanica, I was a bit concerned that Emson had lost his touch. However, that doesn’t seem to be the case. The first half of Krimson sets the stage and offers enough background that readers new to the series should have no problems diving in. For me, the action really didn’t get going until about the half-way mark. At that point it was as though a switch was thrown and we were in free fall to the end. All the characters of the first book are back and we start to see their individual threads get resolved one by one…

I can hardly wait for Kardinal, the conclusion of the trilogy, to be released in another year or two. Can Jake and his friends survive? Only Emson himself knows until the book is released!

If you want a taste of the book, be sure to check out the first three chapters at Thomas Emson’s website. Unfortunately US rights haven’t yet been sold, but you can order via Amazon and other retailers through international wholesalers!

This article first appeared at BlogCritics.org here.

–Fitz

p.s. Pick up these books at Amazon below!

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Book Review: Skarlet by Thomas Eason

Hey all…

It’s been at least a decade since I was wrapped up in a novel about vampires. Anne Rice really set the bar high with her series of novels from the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, about the vampires Lestat and Louis and their exploration of the past and present of the vampire community across the world. I feel that Skarlet is flirting with that bar a bit, which is great.

In Skarlet we are introduced to a set of characters inhabiting the modern world. But where the vampires were the main storytellers of Rice’s vampire series, Emson uses mortals as reluctant heroes working to save humanity from creatures brought back to life after being vanquished during classical times. The primary character is Jake Lawton, unfairly drummed out of the British military after being caught on film supposedly killing an unarmed civilian in Iraq. Since Jake came back from Iraq, he’s had a rough time. He found work as a bouncer at a local dance club called “Religion,” and unwittingly was drawn into a horror everyone thought was fiction. After all, who believes in vampires in modern day London?

Not only does the novel have a set of characters who have more depth than many of the fictional characters, but Emson weaves a compelling story across multiple times and places, from Alexander the Great conquering Babylon to Iraq when the Ottomans ousted the British in 1920 to the most recent war in Iraq started by the United States in 2003. And to somehow take these disparate locations and tie them together with modern London (with its pockets of corruption, drug use, and violence that seems to pervade most cities large and small to some degree) without skipping a beat was quite entertaining.

For those evildoers seeking a return of older dark forces to the world, the time was right to raise the spectre of our nightmares. For Jake and his few allies (a reporter who helped in his being kicked out of the military, a drug dealer, and a member of an anthropology department at a British university), danger in one form or another lurks around every corner – from corrupt police and reporters spreading the terror of the truth, to the actual vampires stalking the streets and killing or kidnapping people left and right.

Skarlet has a very British feel to it, which is quite different from Anne Rice’s primarily American settings and influence. Words and phrases, even swear words and curses, were interesting to put into American terms.

In the book, Emson used short chapters to his advantage. I found it a nice change of pace to quickly go from scene to scene. As such, I can see this book being made into a television or movie script very easily. It might come across as a more adult version of Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, but it would definitely be entertaining.

Probably the only bad thing I noticed was what I perceived as a rather large number of typos in the second half of the book. Though minor, they took me out of the moment from time to time.

All in all, I really enjoyed Skarlet and look forward to the next book in the trilogy, Krimson. There’s also a small preview at the back of Skarlet of another of Emson’s books called Maneater which hinted to me of a werewolf-like setting. I can’t help but think of the setting for a series of roleplaying games from White Wolf collectively known as the “World of Darkness,” which mixed magic, vampires, werewolves, mummies, ghosts, and faeries in a world of magic just outside what normal people see… It would be interesting to see if Emson began to cross concepts or events from one setting into another.

For more information about Skarlet, be sure to head over to The Vampire Trinity. And for more about author Thomas Emson, check out his website at ThomasEmson.com.

If you like supernatural fiction or vampire novels, I highly recommend that you take a chance on Skarlet at your local bookstore or find it online. I know I’ll be in line to pick up Krimson when it’s available!

–Fitz

p.s. Be sure to pick up Skarlet and Maneater at your local bookstore or on Amazon:

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RIP Common Courtesy…

Hey there…

It’s time for a rant. I apologize in advance if you’re not here for rants, and I understand if you don’t want to read on… But what the <bleep> is going on in the world?

<rant on>

Walking on Grass
Image by edenpictures via Flickr

While driving around this weekend, I saw a mother walking a dog with her daughter and cutting across the lawn of the house on the corner to do so. Now, this house has been on the market for 2+ years and was foreclosed on last year sometime, so it’s bank owned, and in poor repair. But it’s the principle of the thing. It’s not their lawn, so why would they tread on it?

But it’s not just that… My job has me annoyed by doing some very dumb things with company policies. My wife’s company is also doing some inane things that will result in eventually closing the actual location she works at because the company is making it impossible to actually work there (money grubbing corporate medicine).

The news ticks me off when I watch newscasters and analysts tearing apart Obama’s first few days in office… The man hasn’t even BEEN in office for 100 days and we’re already tearing him apart for things he has or hasn’t done yet. And then they rip on other members of the administration for <gasp> admitting mistakes or misspeaking from time to time?

Is our country going to hell this fast?

Yes, the economy stinks. Yes, we’re still fighting an insane war in Iraq and not giving enough support to our troops there and in Afghanistan. Yes, the middle east is in turmoil (honestly, when isn’t it?)…

But can’t we still be polite to each other? Treat one another with a certain modicum of respect?

The world would be a better place if we all remember our “Please” and “Thank you’s”, don’t you think? And mind our own actions even if we think nobody’s looking.

Come on people… let’s get our acts back together. Or should we just let common courtesy rest in peace?

<rant off>

This has been an off the cuff rant by yours truly. I apologize if anyone was offended, but these are my thoughts — this is my forum — and thankfully I don’t have to contend with network TV censors. 🙂

Until next time…

–Fitz

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