Author: Eric Wilson
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (October 2008 )
My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
In FIELD OF BLOOD, an excavation crew accidentally gouges a hole in the Akeldama–the Potter’s Field, the Field of Blood Judas Iscariot purchased and committed suicide on after betraying Jesus.
From the disturbed burial ground, a resurrected, two-family, cluster of Collectors emerges–eighteen beings in all, with one unaccounted for from the nineteen empty coffins. These bloodsucking creatures that thrive on human blood and souls are somewhat disoriented with the changes that have transpired in society during the 2000+ years they’ve been Separated. After feasting, they are drawn from Israel to Romania in a quest to find an immortal girl, Gina, marked with a Tav on her forehead, because she could potentially give birth to one of the Nistarim. The thirty-six original Nistarim, those marked to escape judgment during the day of Elijah and resurrected when Jesus died on the cross, work to defend the earth and kill Collectors when they get the chance. In the event one of the Nistarim perishes for good, others are born to take its place. [I’m still not sure how this works.] If Collectors can kill one of the Nistarim, they believe they will usher in their own paradise on earth. This power struggle between supernatural teams goes on with humanity unaware.
Collectors can temporarily leave their human shell and travel in other living hosts but cannot control will beyond prodding. Inhabiting this way is a risk, as it leaves them limited and vulnerable and they must find their way back to their main body, but sometimes it’s one worth taking if the situation calls. This ability as well as one to siphon memories from blood helps them in tracking Gina. They also develop a new way to feed on humans without killing, to continually tap the same sources with a thorny vine, taking advantage of human temptations, negative emotions and weaknesses. This symbolically represents how sin can take root in our lives and suck us dry, and the only way to kill it is by drinking the Blood of the Nazarene.
FIELD OF BLOOD is divided into four parts. Each part begins with a journal entry from an unknown person/being, who has received a map with four drops of blood. As he curiously sticks his tongue to the first drop, the memories of others begin to string together in his mind, which compels him to write the story we’re reading. We still don’t know who this is by the end of the book since it is a trilogy, but I have a theory. 😉
The novel is well-written, weaving humor, history, Truth, family drama, vampiric lore, chess and suspense, and the characters are all interesting and complex. The language is sophisticated, descriptions vivid, and the reservoir of research from which Wilson draws inspiration runs deep. Some of the villains are actually kinda likable and there are laughable moments in their traversing, and Gina, having spent a lifetime of literally being cut by her mother for her sins, is a little bristly in the middle, which is fine for me, as it makes them all the more intriguing and gives Gina has room to grow. I hate when POV characters run on one note, but Wilson’s creations ebb and flow, pique curiosity, and refuse to be cardboard. You may, but I did not find the multiple POVs or the timeline and locale jumps too jarring, but I did have to slow down to read because of this.
There’s a lot of simmering and slow unfolding in the book, especially in the beginning, so if you want a fast-paced nail biter, this isn’t it. But the story was no less interesting for me and I see the pace as being parallel to how sin imprisons a person, not necessarily seizing a person at once, but slowly hunting, tempting, invading then embedding and stealing your soul. I am still very confused as to what the Collectors are, and this niggling question still carries. Wilson doesn’t seem to choose between vampire, zombie, fallen angel, or a being that is entirely new and different, perfectly fine if that’s the case, but the fact that they are referred to as any/all of them doesn’t give me clarity. Satan is considered the Master Collector, so perhaps they’re demonic vampires. It could be that the characters are unreliable because they don’t know, but I felt the author chose not to pigeonhole, leaving it up to readers to draw their own conclusions. These particular Collectors were active during the time of Jesus, and Wilson threads ties to that time period, like by having them as the legion that were cast into swine. Cool angle!
And I didn’t totally care for the ending. The climax was excellent, since Wilson didn’t hold back any punches or shrink from grit, but the very end, although designed to be hooky, didn’t give completion to the story’s arc. I know this is a trilogy but I still like more definition as a reader. It’s a very Lord of the Rings moment.
That said, I highly recommend the book. It was imaginative in successfully blending Christian truth and history with bloodsucking, undead creatures. I especially enjoyed the humor and the symbolism with chess, especially with Regina being the Queen [that’s what her name means] and she’s fascinated with the Immortal game. Ironic right? Intentional irony, true, but I love when author’s weave in deeper nuances and symbolism for readers to find.
Good read for me!
[Wow. That was hard to write because of the story’s complexity. Good thing Wilson is established; writing an agent-tickling synopsis for that would be a nightmare. 🙂 ]