Sunday, 6 July 2014

Vampires: A Hunter's Guide by Steve White and Mark Mckenzie-Ray

It is not just fellow bloggers and gamers who can surprise me with free gifts. Just last month I received an e-mail from Emily Heagerty, the Marketing Administrator of Osprey Books. She mentioned that I had reviewed one of their previous books - Zombies: a Hunter's Guide by Joseph McCullough. You can see my review here - http://vampifansworldoftheundead.blogspot.co.uk/2010/11/zombies-hunters-guide.html
Note that this review was posted in November of 2010, meaning that Emily has an excellent memory. Anyway, she was wondering if I'd be interested in reviewing their latest book in this series - Vampires: a Hunter's Guide by Steve White and Mark Mckenzie-Ray. Naturally, I was very interested. So, a  few days later, I received a copy of the book in the post and was absolutely overjoyed.
The easiest way to tell you what this book is about is to quote the blurb from the back cover.
"For centuries, vampires have lurked in the shadows, preying upon the weak and defenceless. It is only thanks to a group of dedicated and powerful hunters that the vampire threat has remained largely suppressed and evidence of their existence confined to the whispers of myth and folklore. However, with world population centres booming, the vampires have found new hunting grounds in which to hide their activities and build their underground empires. Covens across the world have grown powerful. It is now only a matter of time before they step into the light and begin their war on humanity.
Vampires: a Hunter's Guide contains all the information necessary to recognise and combat this growing threat.After an exploration into the origins of these undead creatures, it examines the numerous vampire species and subspecies that exist around the world today, placing particular emphasis on the role of the vampire hunter in combating the rise of the undead throughout the centuries. Focusing on the hunters' weapons, tactics and skill sets, this book provides information on identifying and eliminating vampires, noting the best practices from hunters from around the world. With full-colour illustrations of predator and prey, this is the ultimate resource in the fight to save humanity from the vampires."
As with Zombies: a Hunter's Guide, this book works on the premise that vampires do exist and are at large in the world around us. Its tone is serious and I have nothing against that. The bulk of the book details the "facts" about vampires from five continents - Europe, North America, Africa, Asia and South America. The most prominent vampires from each continent are respectively, the Strigoi, the native American Wendigo (more myth than a reality), but more likely European vampire immigrants, the Asanbosam (a monkey-like hybrid), the Jiangshi (pronounced ching-shee) aka the hopping vampire, and finally the Chupacabra, aka the goat-sucker. Sub-species include dhampires, incubi and succubi, amongst others.
The vampire hunters collectively work for an organisation called Special Action Unit (SAU, pronounced "SAW") who are a covert branch of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). These small groups of highly skilled agents operate across the globe in a hidden war against the vampire menace. Their tactics have evolved from many centuries of study of vampire hunters to give them the best chance to deal with the growing rise of vampires in the modern world.
Anyone  looking for a suitable background for a vampire hunting campaign set in contemporary times will find this book very useful. I could easily see it working best with a GURPS Horror campaign or with THW's After The Horsemen setting (with a little tweaking). To the casual reader it is an interesting read but hardly essential. To a vampire fan like myself, it is very much a "must have" book. I know that I got my copy for free, but I'd have happily paid for it.
My major criticism of the book is exactly the same as my criticism of Zombies: a Hunter's Guide, and that is that at 80 pages it only scratches the surface of the subject. I'm sure that a longer book could have covered more vampire types and mentioned a lot more on SAU weapons and tactics. It is nicely illustrated with a combination of black and white photos and drawings and some exceptional full colour illustrations.
Vampires: a Hunter's Guide costs £10.99 or $17.99 from Osprey Adventure Books. I give it a 7 out of 10 rating. I did enjoy it but I wish it had been a lot longer.

12 comments:

  1. I like your comment "the native American Wendigo (more myth than a reality)" but aren't these all examples of myths ?
    Including the mythic chucubabra as a Vampire seems strange, it's not the first thing I think of when vampires are mentioned ! And if mentioning things like the Chucubara then why not the very real Vampire bats ?
    I like my image ofvampires restriced to Bela Lugosi and Nosferatu, Iit's an age thing I guess.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This book works on the premise that most vampire myths and legends are indeed facts. However, for some reason, it dismisses the tales of the Wendigo. Vampire bats are mentioned throughout the book, especially in the chapters on Africa and South America.
      The image of Nosferatu the vampire matches closely to that of a traditional Strigoi vampire. There is a very interesting story about why the original film "Nosferatu" by FW Murnau was ordered destroyed. To the general public it was assumed that Bram Stoker's estate were so against the film that they obtained a court order to have all copies of the film destroyed. The "truth" of the matter was that it was a coven of Strigoi vampires who were behind the order to have the film destroyed as it got too close to the truth. It might have worked but one copy did survive. It's a fascinating story that adds to the conspiracy theory that vampires do exist!

      Delete
  2. Sounds like an interesting book. Might have to pick a copy up and give it a read.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's good if you're interested in vampires, otherwise, probably not worth buying.

      Delete
  3. Replies
    1. Cheers, Bob. I certainly enjoyed it.

      Delete
  4. This is from their myths and legends series yes? Nice to see you are making a name for yourself Bryan.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is indeed, Robert. I can't tell you how surprised I was to receive my preview copy.

      Delete
  5. Looks like your hard work and perseverance has paid off. Free books, a bit like Chrimbo! I should admit I'm a little bit Jealous. Ok I am not a vampire fan but I have played in a gurps Vampire hunting Campaign (years ago) and did enjoy it. So kudos for making the link between the two.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Clint. I used to play a lot of GURPS Vampire: the Masquerade in the past. This used White Wolf's game world background but the GURPS rules. Plus, I have played Vampirella in a GURPS Supers campaign, so I'm certainly very familiar with using vampires of different types in GURPS.

      Delete
  6. Wow, look who's famous! :D

    Seems like an interesting idea, but as Joe I am not really too keen on anything vampiric that isn't the basic Stoker's Dracula. Which one would you say is better - the Zombie or Vampire book? As objectively as possible? :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Mathyoo. Yeah, fame at last!
      I'd have to say that the zombies book is slightly better than the vampire book. If you look back at my review of the zombies book (see link above) you'll see that I gave it an 8/10 score, whereas vampires could only manage a 7/10.

      Delete