The Lords of the Dead

The Breakdown Universe Primers

Fiction - Fantasy - General
682 Pages
Reviewed on 06/13/2023
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers' Favorite

Humanity and the world are on the brink of collapse when a virus and supernatural powers ravage Earth in The Lords of the Dead by Theodore Hodges and Michael Waitz. Protagonist Thomas Beckett fights alongside comrades to stave off genetically enhanced mutants called Neoliths while an amoral but effective Erika Lennox turns to science for a solution, for better or for worse. Beckett is spoken to by Nadira, the goddess of death, and mysteriously disappears. A vampiric society rises from the ruins of what is left of humanity, who carry on fighting back even though they are outnumbered and the scales of who and/or what is literally at the top of the food chain have tipped. A shocking rebirth from the death of two vampires named Drakon and Medusa transpires and battles, rituals, and the reorganization of life ensues, where a new era is promised and the fate of humanity is questionable.

The Lords of the Dead by Theodore Hodges and Michael Waitz is, at its core, an inspection of human struggles and power disparity that forces us to reflect on the cyclical nature of history. The work looks into moral dilemmas, betrayal, and the relentless quest for survival in a turbulent and violent world. The web of political tensions and rivalries within the Coalition simultaneously breaks it down and holds up a terrifying mirror to contemporary real-world politics. Hodges and Waitz are exceptional in how they describe their post-apocalyptic setting, called “The Breakdown”, in vivid detail. They show no fear of gruesomeness as writers in portrayals of war, global pandemic, mutations, and vampires who do what vampires do, which is feast on humans. There's a cliffhanger ending but enough wrapped up in the leadup not to be frustrating and I'm confident that readers who enjoy all of the above will delight in The Lords of the Dead, as I have. Very highly recommended.

K.C. Finn

The Lords of the Dead: A Primer Story In the Breakdown Universe is a work in the fantasy, action, and adventure subgenres, and forms a great introduction to The Breakdown Universe series. It is suitable for mature adult readers owing to explicit language, graphic violence, and sexual situations. Penned by Theodore Hodges, the stories within this highly engaging and cinematic volume give us a chilling vision of a future world where civilization as we know it has been erased, and a host of modern military and political influences battle against mutants, gods, and monsters to form a new world.

Theodore Hodges has crafted an intelligent modern fantasy that still pays homage to the classics but offers a slick interpretation of the genre with a keen eye on humanity’s destructive nature and the dangers we pose to ourselves in the contemporary world. I enjoyed the use of Major Thomas Beckett as a central springboard for the plot exposition. As we explore more stories and perspectives to add to his seemingly impossible mission to save humanity, we see the growing trepidation from every possible angle. This is a primer in every sense, developing a fantastic world-building style that is fully immersive and detailed, down to the emotional and psychological impact on the characters. And as for the coming darkness and world-shattering revelations later on, I recommend picking up The Lords of the Dead to discover those dark wonders for yourself.

Jamie Michele

The Lords of the Dead by Theodore Hodges and Michael Waitz is a paranormal novel where, in a post-apocalyptic world, Major Thomas Beckett leads a team fighting against the Cosmic Virus. Society has collapsed and Beckett questions the actions of leadership and, along the way, uncovers disturbing truths and faces betrayal. While fighting new humanoids called Neoliths, he connects to a mysterious female named Nidara with almost infinite supernatural abilities. She tells him he is to protect the son of a man named Valdar. As time marches on and chaos reigns, Beckett is said to be missing. An intervention is hatched by those who know or know of him, to bring Beckett back due to his importance and shared history. What nobody knows is that Beckett is no longer himself, unspared from the mutations of this dark new world, and this new world needs leaders....leaders who are destined to be The Lords of the Dead.

Holy mother of dystopian-mutant-nuclear-mystic-vampire thingies—what is this painfully beautiful and creative literary mountain Theodore Hodges and Michael Waitz have built in their novel, The Lords of the Dead? This book has a lot going on and a ton to unpack and is one of those reads where you genuinely have no idea where to start when describing it. First things first, the writing is polished even if it tends to run into being overly loquacious. Yes, there are entire pages dedicated to military talk, politicking, and thoughts about philosophy, but these are balanced by glorious battle scenes that literally shoot lightning and lavish European dinners with a guest list that, once you know from the storyline who's on it, reads like a plebeian's worst nightmare. I loved the transformations and the way the authors deliver anti-heroes, and was surprised by a love match that I would have lost my home betting against. Overall, this genre-bending War of the Worlds meets Van Helsing meets Clash of the Titans mash-up is a fantastic, thought-provoking, and engrossing read and I'm excited to see where it goes next.

Stephanie Chapman

The Lords of The Dead by Theodore Hodges and Michael Waitz is a fantasy-dystopian story divided into five sections. Major Thomas Beckett narrates the first, Firebreak. It sets the scene for the world when a comet releases an airborne fast-acting virus. The second section, The Warrior, is told by Sergeant First Class Robert Vasquez. He explains the four divisions of the world after the nuclear extermination of the virus. The third part, The Priestess, is from the point of view of Erika Lennox as she makes ritual sacrifices to Nidara. Under the pretense of a premiere scientist, she must convince Colonel Valdar she can restore the now-crippled Beckett. Colonel Valdar narrates the fourth section, The King, as he watches the ultimate deterioration of the Coalition’s leadership. The final part, The Companion, returns to Beckett’s narration of his transformation into Drakon.

Theodore Hodges and Michael Waitz's story is one of an intense struggle for every character. They forced Beckett to make choices he disagreed with. General Anderson was a power-hungry man with no qualms about sending his people on suicidal missions. His decisions caused Beckett’s team to lose several members for moral reasons. I liked Robert Vasquez’s indomitable attitude and loyalty to Beckett. Erika Lennox was a twisted woman, and I initially disliked her. The romantic connection between Beckett and Lennox appears physical until The King delves further. The plot description of every moment was vividly detailed. There was never a dull moment. The Companion shocked me. The unpredictable story had an intense twist I never saw coming. I recommend The Lords of The Dead to dystopian readers who like watching the unimaginable possibilities of the world change.

Rabia Tanveer

The Lords of the Dead: The Breakdown Universe Primers by Theodore Hodges is a fantasy with touches of science fiction, action, and drama. Major Thomas Beckett of the Coalition Army knew that war was looming. He foresaw the world's destruction, the rebuilding, and the chaos it gave birth to. He still envisioned a perfect time when Earth would be restored to its original glory, but it looked impossible. A new enemy arose from the ashes of the chaos and called herself Nidara. Claiming to be a god from the darkness, she had one goal: rule humanity or destroy it. Thomas Beckett, Lennox, and others might try to resist, but there was no stopping Nidara. She wanted Earth and humanity desperately. Would they cave in, and would Nidara show her true colors?

The Lords of the Dead was suspenseful, fantastic, and exceptionally well-conceived. Divided into seven parts, the story flows seamlessly without losing readers or making them chase to catch up. The world-building was flawless and phenomenal. Usually, post-apocalyptic fantasy and science fiction stories are so depressing that it sucks all of the fun out of the narrative, but not in this case. Theodore Hodges made sure that his readers would enjoy the book. I expected that the theme would be military fiction with hints of political tension, but Hodges surprised me by taking a turn that I was not expecting. Nidara reminded me of Lilith from the Diablo series, and I was invested in discovering her background. I loved her and the horror aspect she brought with her. I cannot wait to see what happens next.