"The Blood Rider" Book Review
Written by Steve Pattee
Published by Thunder Hammer Publishing
Funny thing, I'm not a morning person. – Ezekiel Carson
Written by Mark Tarrant
First edition released on September 14, 2007
Right off the top, The Blood Rider, the first book in the "Blood & Spurs" series, is a very fast read. Author Mark Tarrant isn't a wordy writer, by any of stretch of the imagination, and doesn't waste time by dragging anything out with long winded explanation. This is my kind of book.
The Blood Rider has a great story. Ezekiel Carson, son of a preacher and God loving man himself, and his entire family are on their way out West to bring the Lord's word to the heathens. However, they never make it to their destination due to some no good bandits, who slaughter Ezekiel's entire family, leaving him for dead. Things take an interesting twist, and a vampire happens along and turns the barely alive Ezekiel, so he can exact his revenge on the bastards that killed his family.
Two decades later, a New York school teacher, William Hamilton, tracks down The Blood Rider, the best guide in the West, with the hope of hiring him to help find his missing brother — a preacher man, no less. After a somewhat volatile meeting between the two (and, in case you haven't figured out, Ezekiel is the infamous Blood Rider), William convinces Ezekiel to help him. From there, the two go on a gunslinging journey filled with dead bodies and demons.
In the press kit he sent me, Tarrant says, he's "…a big fan of short stories, and wanted to write small novels and adventures, like Conan, The Spider and other cool pulp characters." Well, Tarrant succeeds with that somewhat with "The Blood Rider."
The "somewhat" seems to make the last line seem like a back-handed compliment, and that's not intentional, because I did enjoy the book. As mentioned, The Blood Rider's story is sound, as it strays far away from the traditional "gothic" vampire. I have to give props to Tarrant for putting a nice spin on the vampire genre by not only throwing Ezekiel in the Wild West, but also making him a formidable gunslinger to boot. And while the book moves at a very fast and enjoyable pace, Tarrant would benefit greatly if he slowed that pace down some, and took the time to get a little more descriptive. One big issue I had when reading the novel is Tarrant seems to be in a hurry to get to somewhere, and description suffers from it because many things seem to be thrown in as an afterthought (mostly when it comes to rooms and buildings).
There are also times where I wish Tarrant had busted out a thesaurus. I can't completely fault him for this, as I don't know if there was an editor in the mix. But there were a few occasions where the same word was repeated more than necessary in a paragraph. His characters suffer slightly from this, too, as they all seem to have the same voice. If you were to put various dialogues from the book in front of me, and it didn't have anything to do specifically with their character, it would be very tough for me to differentiate who said what.
However, having said that, I'm sure the flaws the book has will fix themselves in future books once Tarrant gets more writing behind him. Ezekiel and William have a fantastic potential to be one hell of a team, and I'm looking forward to their next adventure. There's talent here with Mark Tarrant, and while The Blood Rider is a little rough around the edges, it's still a good campfire yarn.
You can pick up a signed copy of The Blood Rider at the official site. Ten smackers is a pretty decent price for an autographed book and, even if it's not up your alley, you will be supporting up-and-coming authors and small press.