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61 of 68 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good story with minor issues
The Gathering Dead by Stephen Knight is centered on Major McDaniels and his entourage of military cohorts. Although a good book over all, there are several smaller problems that lead to some issues that detract from an otherwise well-written book. McDaniels and his men must safely transfer Safire, a scientist with the knowledge vital to fighting the zombie epidemic,...
Published on May 28, 2011 by B. Beard

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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Solid, fast paced read
The Gathering Dead is a solid, fast paced Zombie adventure that will give you zero time to catch your breath. I wouldn't call it literature but for $2.99 I think it is well worth the purchase for fans of the zombie genre. Nothing in the book is ground breaking but if you like the idea of terrifying undead ghouls rampaging through NYC and doing battle with soldiers then...
Published on June 15, 2011 by Craig


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61 of 68 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good story with minor issues, May 28, 2011
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The Gathering Dead by Stephen Knight is centered on Major McDaniels and his entourage of military cohorts. Although a good book over all, there are several smaller problems that lead to some issues that detract from an otherwise well-written book. McDaniels and his men must safely transfer Safire, a scientist with the knowledge vital to fighting the zombie epidemic, through a zombie-infested New York City to an aircraft that will take them to a more secure location. Trouble at the transport center leaves the group trapped in a building with several new characters and yet more troubles to deal with.

Cover art: 3 stars
The cover is very much like many other zombie book covers--red coloring and a font evocative of blood. There's nothing really to make it distinct or depict any additional source of conflicts aside from the zombies.

Characters: 3.5 stars
The main character McDaniels is very thoroughly developed. There are a few times when it felt like the inconsistencies with his behavior had less to do with true internal conflict and more to do with fitting a plot need.
I also wasn't buying the accent given to Earl, the black building repairman. His accent and his mannerisms often seemed more like something you might find from some 1930s share cropper and not a middle-aged black man living in the 21st century in New York City. On occasion, his diction seemed to adjust itself between scenes, but, for the most part, it just felt entirely too old school for this age.
However, I did feel that I was able to make connections with all the characters and they all served a purpose in the story.

Plot: 4 Stars
The plot, over all, was very good. Scenes had a good flow, and besides Earl's speech patterns, there were no continuity issues. I especially liked the use of a different kind of zombie. I think that people sometimes want to see the same type of thing in this genre and that can lead to stagnation.
There were a few things that sometimes distracted me during the story. One was the overuse of POV changes, particularly unnecessary ones. There was an instance where the story shifted to the POV of Ragenia Safire, the scientist's daughter, but nothing of importance happened during those scenes. I was also thrown off with some of the sexual language and descriptions that served no purpose. I'm far from a prude, but their use in this novel came out of left field and served no real purpose. This would have been fine if a potential romantic connection was later made, but as used, it seemed gratuitous.
My other issue was with a flash back to a previous conflict between McDaniels and one of the men. This may been intended to help establish the animosity between the two, but overall, it brought me out of the story and left me wondering why this couldn't have been summed up in an argument between the two in the present situation.
There were also a few issues with telegraphing of plot points. Sometimes a little uncertainty is necessary in maintaining a tense atmosphere. There were also a few plot points that bordered on contrived. There is only a certain amount of good luck the reader can tolerate and this can't be stored up for one big hooray.

Writing: 4.5 Stars
I was amazed with how well written this book was. I think this was the key to being able to forgive some of the other mistakes I mentioned. As a matter of fact, the book was on the longer side of things, but despite that, it never dragged. This reader engagement was a sign of the quality of the writing.
As for editing, I did notice about 5-10 times where a word was missing or misplaced, but there weren't major issues that truly distracted from my enjoyment of the story.

Overall: 4 Stars
Despite the few issues I might have had with the book, it was very well written, and the things I mentioned only niggled at the back of my mind as a minor annoyance. Enjoyment was defiantly a factor in my rating. Not only was the book well thought out and thorough in its military references, it also was easy to understand despite my non-military background. Curious about the accuracy, I did find myself asking my veteran husband several questions, but each time, the author was spot on.
In the end, I would highly recommend this book and plan on checking out Knight's other books.

Happy reading!
My indie, my tea and me
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25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars buy this book !, April 8, 2011
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D. Dustin (Arlington, VA) - See all my reviews
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This book grabs you on the first page and doesn't let go. A great zombie novel with real, well written characters and great action. As another reviewer noted it's the best $.99 deal ever on Amazon and that's absolutely true. Since I bought my Kindle a year ago I've read as many of the books offered here in the zombie genre as I can find and this is clearly one of the best. If you have read Craig Dilouie and a few other new authors then you know how good a lot of the new zombie novels are and The Gathering Dead stands with the best. I was very impressed with the character devolpment but the attention to detail with regard to the Special Forces operators was also first rate and that goes for the aviation sequences as well. This is just a blast. It's not often I finish a book and feel like just starting at the beginning all over again but I did here. I really hope to see more like this from Stephen Knight. Now I have to pick up his other books. I think we'll be hearing alot more about him. I hope others that like this genre as much as I will buy this book and enjoy it as much as I did and support these great new writers. Hooah!
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29 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intense story!, March 25, 2011
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Joe_L (New Jersey, USA) - See all my reviews
This is an intense story - one of those which makes you feel you're part of the action. I found myself rooting for the special forces team through their ups and downs (there are many!). It's got a powerful ending - certainly not what I expected. This is the second story I've read by this author and I enjoy his writing style. He provides enough detail to involve the reader, yet maintains a fast pace. This is the type of story I could envision becoming a great movie!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Solid, fast paced read, June 15, 2011
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The Gathering Dead is a solid, fast paced Zombie adventure that will give you zero time to catch your breath. I wouldn't call it literature but for $2.99 I think it is well worth the purchase for fans of the zombie genre. Nothing in the book is ground breaking but if you like the idea of terrifying undead ghouls rampaging through NYC and doing battle with soldiers then you are likely to enjoy The Gathering Dead.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Zombie Killing Action!, September 22, 2012
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This review is from: The Gathering Dead (Paperback)
I was reading "World War Z" by Max Brooks during a recent trip, and as I went through airline security, the TSA guard noticed the book and struck up a conversation about zombie apocalypse fiction.
He recommended that I check out the "Gathering Dead" by Stephen Knight. I'm glad he did!

After a quick search on Amazon, I had the book in hand a few days later. It's a quick read, fast paced , with some classic Soldier v/s Zombie killing action. Excellent descriptions of military gear/weapons, character development, and some interesting zombie physiology, some are runners, some are stone dumb, and some are wicked smart... and they all want to eat you!
Special Forces Major Cord McDaniels and 1SG Gartrell fight their way through downtown NYC overflowing with the living dead, in an effort to save a brilliant research scientist that may hold the key to a vaccine. Along the way, their Special Forces team is decimated by the "stenches" and they pick up a few civilian survivors along the way.
I also recommend the sequels "Left with the Dead" (Short novella), and "The Rising Horde Vol 1 & 2".
"Left with the Dead" could/should have been included as the last chapter(s) of "The Gathering Dead", and "The Rising Horde Vol 1 & 2" could be a single book as well. Knight's writing is descriptive, gritty, and full of action.

A+++++
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good solid zombie read, September 18, 2011
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This review is from: The Gathering Dead (Paperback)
This book is about a group of Special Forces operatives trying to get an important scientist and his daughter out of New York city in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. It is quite action packed and well written, also the military aspects of the story are well researched and realistic. The hook here is that some of the dead Special Forces members reanimate as zombies who have retatined some of their military skills and provide an additional threat beyond the thousands of zombies already threatening the group. Overall a very enjoyable book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heralding the death...of big publishing houses. Best zed book yet!, September 3, 2012
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It boils down to the basics.

The Gathering Dead, and its successors in Stephen Knight's Zombie Apocalypse series, kept me up late on many nights, where I'd wake up exhausted, gaunt, with bags under my eyes, probably looking a lot like one of the fresh zeds from Knight's awesome books.

I've read so many zombie books that I'm not ashamed to consider myself something of a connoisseur of the genre. World War Z? Sure. Of course. Day by Day Armageddon? Absolutely (and the sequel). Ex-Heroes? Yup. Area 187? You know it (great book, BTW). And many, many more.

I devour zombie lit like a stench devours entrails! I eat 'em up, and I'm usually willing to cut the books some slack because of how much I like the genre. Like, I'm not bothered by the occasional typo, and I don't expect to be dazzled by poetic wizardry when I read them.

But sometimes, as I was reading The Gathering Dead and its followup books, I'm really, really surprised.

This book actually scared me. Why? Because I found myself empathizing with the characters. Knight takes the time to develop them, but by no means does that mean there isn't a lot of action. There's a ton, but it's not all, "Jake whipped the 9 mil around just in time to put a round through a dead toddler's forehead, its pasty skull no more than a few inches away." There's more to it than that (although some of that, too, to be sure). People flee, prepare, hide, plan, sneak, panic, and they do it so convincingly, so authentically in these books that it becomes easy to put yourself in their shoes. You feel for them, the living, or at least I did, and that's great storytelling. That's the difference between a great story and a merely entertaining one.

Think about Stephen King. If you're anything like me, you love some of his books. But Stephen King is no Hemingway, right? As good as King is, he's no Hemingway, and yet who the hell cares? Stephen King knows how to write a compelling story, compelling characters, and keep you nailed to the edge of your seat. Well, so does Stephen Knight.

If you love zombie books, do yourself a favor. Buy The Gathering Dead, and then just save yourself the time and buy the sequels (and the novella). Trust me. You'll want to have them sitting on your e-reader waiting for you to devour as soon as you finish reading The Gathering Dead.

Long live the dead!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply blown away by this book, September 2, 2011
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I have recently gotten on a zombie kick and I have found some real gems hidden in the genre, as well as a few goose eggs. This book easily ranks in my all-time top three favorite zombie books. I could not put it down and I read the whole thing in one sitting. This author knows how to build suspense and sustain that level of tension, and unlike some of the horror writers out there, he does not seem to have a knee-jerk aversion to firearms. Please, spare me from any more intrepid zombie killers armed with a baseball bat and a pure heart.
As an aside, the idea of flesh hungry zombies still retaining some memory or training is not new, but the author really uses it here in a clever, logical way that is still chilling.
Get this book, read it, and lock your doors.
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15 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thank you!, March 29, 2011
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It has been forever since I've found a good full length zombie book, and this one has even been edited (edit: as per comment below, not professionally edited but cleaned up by someone to above average).

Engaging, zombie tale in the continous action model, very satisfying situations and combat. Recommended for all genre fans.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the better zombie books, hands down!, April 5, 2012
I bought this the other day and man, I finished it in one sitting! This was a really good zombie book for me. It may be as good as 187 - Almost Hell by Eric Lowther. I enjoyed it so much that the ending blew me away, which is not something that happens very often. I felt sad, but happy at the same time. It wasn't exactly the best ending, but it's the kind of ending that leaves you with a fuzzy feeling, an ending that makes you think and really feel for the characters. I swear that by the of the book, I felt myself feeling a bit tear-eyed.

Story - 4.5 / 5
You're introduced to Major Cordell McDaniels, who in the midst of the world ending and succumbing to the walking dead, finds himself given one of the most important missions of his life and of mankind: escorting Wolf Safire, a research scientist who holds the key to creating a vaccine and even a cure, out of the hells of New York city. But it isn't a walk in the park, as they get trapped in a sky scraper and the only way to get out of there is to seek help from air and water transportation. The question is - will they be able to hold out before the swarm of zombies get to them first?

I like the concept. Reading about the zombie apocalypse from the military point of view is very refreshing, and not something you see very often in this kind of genre. Escorting an important man was a good idea, too, and it was very fun and thrilling to read as they faced obstacles one after another. No doubt that I had moments where my heart was about to burst from excitement or suspense.

One thing I like about my zombies is that they have to be traditional. I've read some books where some authors decided to "experiment" and made them "smart", "strategic", and even "comedians who can sprout poetry" /coughMarkClodicough/ and I don't really like that. But I found Stephen Knight's zombies acceptable, even though they aren't completely traditional. In fact, I thought his zombies made things spicier. At least they don't crack jokes with each other!

Characters - 5/5
I found the characters well-though and nicely developed. Major McDaniels is a man who knows his job and makes sure he completes it, period. But unlike others who's totally nazi about it, he still has a soft side for civilians, which can be noticed from a flashback later in the book of a particular incident in Afghanistan. His other alpha male counterpart is First Sergeant Gartrell, who, like Major McDaniels, knows the implications and importance of the mission they have at hand and makes sure that it gets done pronto. You see that they have some tensions at the very start, but this will be explained later on and justified.

I found myself attached to the characters very quickly. The kind and honest Earl, his little kid Zoe, even the sarcastic Wolf Safire. I loved them all, and when of course some had to go (this is to be expected in any book of this genre), I felt as if a friend of mine departed as well. That is the impact the characters of this book got to me. So the ending totally blew me away! Positively? In a way. Negatively? Kinda, but it's a positively negative kind. Ha ha!

Writing - 5/5
The book is extremely well-written. The action scenes are nice, the settings are well-described without feeling like it's becoming a drag. The transitions are well-thought out, too. And anyway, how could the characters get to me if the writing was bad? The impact left on me already speaks for itself! J'aime ce livre!

Overall: 5/5

I love this book very much! I automatically became a fan of Mr. Stephen Knight. When I found out there was going to be a sequel in the form of a novella, I was ecstatic and bought it. Now if you'll excuse me, I'll be on my kindle reading Left With the Dead! :)
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The Gathering Dead
The Gathering Dead by Stephen Knight (Paperback - May 31, 2011)
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