If you’re not up to speed on Graveyard of Empires, all you need to know is that Afghanistan is teeming with zombies, and the Taliban and American forces are surrounded. As the inside cover states:
“…Hell can get worse. The Taliban have always kept coming, but not ones who’ve already been killed. The dead are coming back to life in The Graveyard of Empires. Can the Marines and Taliban put aside their differences to survive an undead assault?”
The thing that I like about Mark Sable’s writing is that he threads the needle incredibly well. He’s an intelligent writer who has done his homework on Afghanistan. He’s willing to acknowledge—sadly, a rarity in the industry—that the Taliban are scum (e.g., they force a doctor to implant bombs inside injured villagers). Tribal culture is explored. Dowry is discussed. There are villagers who would rather face bloodthirsty zombies than have their sister or wife frisked for explosives before entering a U.S. base. All of these things have helped make Graveyard of Empires a worthy read, especially for only $2.99 a pop.
With that said, the book has its flaws.
Mark Sable seems to have taken a page out of Oliver Stone’s book when it comes to crafting Graveyard’s “platoon.” It seems as though most writers can’t help themselves; they feel they must cover “the violent characters that populate both sides of the war.” U.S. forces need to have drug addicts, racists, and weirdos in their ranks. They can’t simply have guys like Captain America. They can’t have men like former Navy Seal Marcus Luttrell. Is it too much to ask to have an unabashedly pro-American tale told? Read Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10, by Marcus Luttrell for a perfect example of the kind of stories that are possible. Luttrell’s tale is more impressive because it really happened, but the point is that writers can create pro-American, pro-Western civilization tales that aren’t corny or cliched. While it’s nice that we have artists who try to see “the violent characters who populate both sides of the war,” it’s also nice not to believe in moral-relativist pap that actually creates the conditions for violence to explode.