Literature / The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor

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The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor is a novel written by Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga. It is the first of three prequel novels to Kirkman's comic The Walking Dead.

The story focuses on the man that would later become the Governor; in the early days of the Zombie Apocalypse, Philip Blake, his brother Brian and daughter Penny struggle to survive not only the undead but their fellow man.


The novel contains examples of the following tropes:

  • The Ace: Phillip is a low-key example of this, admired by his friends as well as family.
  • Abusive Parents: Philip and Brian had them. Oddly, enough, it doesn't really impact any of them.
  • Anti-Hero: Both Philip and Brian start out as these though in different ways
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Brian is the future Governor, not Phillip.
  • Break the Cutie: Penny slowly loses it in the chaotic environment of the aftermath.
    • April goes through this too.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture - Philip repeatedly tortures, degrades (and in the case of the woman, rapes) the group responsible for his daughter's death.
  • Cozy Catastrophe: The book opens with the group securing a nice luxury house to take shelter in that is well stocked with supplies. This being The Walking Dead their good fortune only lasts a couple chapters before they are forced to move on to avoid being overrun by the zombies.
  • Crapsack World: It's the Walking Dead universe.
  • Dead Person Impersonation - Brian becomes Philip at the end of the novel.
  • Decoy Protagonist - By the end of the novel, it's clear that Philip was a Red Herring and that this was Brian's story.
  • Doomed by Canon: We know at the very least from the comics that Penny is set to become a zombie.
  • Driven to Villainy: The Governor. Subverted when you find out Brian Blake, rather than Philip is the Governor. An identity he adopts purely because he hates his own.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Brian goes from being the voice of reason to...well, you know.
    • Phillip undergoes one of these as we all know he would given he's Penny's father. He's not the Governor, though.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Surprisingly averted given the subject matter.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Philip, among others.
  • Humans Are Bastards: The humans do far worse to the survivors than the zombies ever do.
  • Infant Immortality: Subverted.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Philip struggles with this throughout the novel. Simply put, the pressures of being The Ace just drive him to it.
  • Kill 'em All: By the end of the novel, Brian is the only survivor.
  • Klingon Promotion: Brian gains control of Woodbury via this.
  • Limited Special Collector's Ultimate Edition: A deluxe leatherbound edition with illustrations by series artist Charlie Adlard was also released.
  • Mercy Kill: Nick puts "Sonny and Cher", two members of the gang that killed Penny, out of their misery after Philip tortures them repeatedly over an extended period of time.
  • Molotov Cocktail: Brain has the idea to whip some of these up to help the group get past a swarm of zombies in the street.
  • Morality Chain: Penny is the one thing that keeps Philip from snapping.
  • Mythology Gag: After leaving a zombie-infested community, Brian leaves a sign outside warning newcomers not to enter. In the comics, Rick and his crew come upon the same exact place, but don't notice the warning until it's too late.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Philip after he rapes April.
  • Obliviously Evil: For that matter, at the time, Phillip doesn't even seem to realize he's raping April and seems to only think that it's just Glad-to-Be-Alive Sex.
  • Papa Wolf: Philip to Penny.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Brian at the end replaces his dead brother with... himself.
  • Room Full of Zombies
  • Start of Darkness: For the Governor.
  • Twist Ending: Think that Philip is destined to be the Governor? Nope, it's his meek, ineffectual brother who takes on Philip's name and legacy.
  • Undead Child: The eventual fate of Penny.
  • Villain Protagonist: The Governor.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Bobby is killed fairly early
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Brian is this to Philip.
  • What Happened To Mommy: After Penny is killed and subsequently turned into a zombie, Philip refuses to have her put down. After Philip dies, Brian continues to take care of her. The comics show that he regularly feeds her body parts.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: We never see Tara and April again after the former kicks the group out of their apartment.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Philip and Brian.

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