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Literature / The Tome of Bill

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A Affectionate Parody Urban Fantasy series written by Rick Gualtieri.

Super-dork Bill Ryder, after a chance encounter on the subway and a series of unfortunate events, finds himself enjoying the night life.

So now he's a vampire. Not just any vampire, but the legendary Freewill, which propels him unwillingly into high circles of the vampire society, all the while earning him more enemies than he knows what to do with. Backed by his two roommates, Ed and Tom, and Femme Fatale Sally, he tries to lead something like a normal life while being pursued by assassins, wizards and people he just generally pisses off.

The books in the series are:

  • Bill the Vampire (2011)
  • Scary Dead Things (2011)
  • The Mourning Woods (2012)
  • Holier Than Thou (2013)
  • Sunset Strip, described by the author as "book 4.5", which focuses entirely on Sally. (2013)
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  • Goddamned Freaky Monsters (2014)
  • Half A Prayer (2015)
  • The Wicked Dead (2015)
  • Shining Fury, another side story of the universe. (2016)
  • The Last Coven (2017)

The series is then continued in Bill of the Dead and False Icons that forms a pair of new series in the setting.

  • Strange Days (2019)
  • Second String Savior (2019)

     Tome of Bill 

  • Asshole Victim: Lots and lots. In Sunset Strip nearly everyone who dies deserved it in some way.
  • Basement-Dweller: Averted. Albeit just barely. Bill's friends are just barely above this with, being adult men who live together and collect toys as their primary occupation. They have jobs, though, and don't live with their parents.
  • Big Bad: Multiple ones for each book but the one for the entire series is Kala the White Goddess a.k.a. Ib the First Vampire.
  • Big Good: Sheila as the prophecized Icon is believed to be The Chosen One who will defeat the Freewill. This is awkward since Bill wants to date her.
  • Bigfoot, Sasquatch, and Yeti: The Alma. They're actually forest spirits, they just choose to take the form of quote "giant shit flinging apes".
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer:
    • The reason James puts up with Colin despite Colin being a smarmy buttkisser who sells out anyone that doesn't outrank him at the drop of a hat. Colin is an extremely competent and very loyal assistant who has a knack for making sense of the vampire nation's labyrinthine records.
    • Bill himself is this. His (frequently) noted tendency to screw things up is tolerated because he gets the job done, and he is the Freewill after all.
  • Butt-Monkey: Bill is one of these despite being the Freewill.
    • Tom is even worse, getting trapped in an action figure at one point.
  • Charm Person: Vampires have the ability to compel younger vampires, and weak-willed humans. The Freewill gets its name from its immunity to this effect.
  • The Chosen One: Bill as the Freewill and Sheila, as the Icon.
    • The Unchosen One: Sheila proves consistently useless in saving the world, forcing Bill to pick up the slack.
  • The Chosen Many: There have been many Freewills and Icons down through the ages. It seems that Alexander is keeping all of the surviving Freewills captive as bodiless heads.
  • Church Militant: The Knights Templar show up in book 4. They mostly become a Teeth-Clenched Teamwork group of Elite Mooks soon after as they answer to Sheila the Icon.
  • Classical Anti-Hero: Bill is a cowardly, weak, nerdy sort of guy who just so happens to have a Superpowered Evil Side. He's also not terribly moral even if he has more humanity than the majority of undead.
  • Daywalking Vampire: Freewills all have unique abilities aside from the standard ones. Vehron's was the ability to walk in the sun for up to an hour.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Sally non-stop. Bill proves to be excellent fodder for snark.
  • Dumb Muscle: Turd is treated as this by Francois. He's not wrong but Turd is probably the smartest of the Alma. Which is a low hurdle indeed.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Bill and company destroy the Wellspring that results in magic leaving the world. Witches and vampires cease to exist with the majority of undead reverting to their true ages or slightly less. Sally becomes a gorgeous middle aged woman, Bill remains in his twenty, and Gan is immune but aging. James and many others die but it results in the Alma calling off their war on humanity. Bill decides to date Sheila after this.
  • Femme Fatale: Sally, full stop.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: The Alma don't wear clothes, so tend to use this trope liberally.
  • Friendly Neighborhood Vampire: Subverted hard. While the majority of vampires are somewhat ridiculous, they're all a bunch of murderers and entitled psychopaths with rare exceptions. Even Bill, who is mostly a decent sort of guy (accent on mostly), still overlooks a lot of evil conducted by his coven. Mostly because he can't figure out a way to stop it. Eventually, he does by destroying all vampires everywhere.
  • Hand Cannon: Sally carries around a Desert Eagle.
  • Historical Domain Character: It's implied that all of the First Coven are this. There's Alexander as in, Alexander the Great and The Khan (actually Ogedei Khan, Genghis' son). "Joshua" is all but directly stated to actually be Jesus.
  • Holier Than Thou: Book 4's name aside, the Templars seem to have a number of these.
  • Holy Burns Evil: Actually, it doesn't. It's all about faith. If a person believes whole-heartedly in the holiness of God and his symbols, then a cross would work just fine. But if they don't have enough faith, it won't do diddly. This effect can be applied to anything that a person has enough faith in, be it a cross or a ham sandwich; Tom imbues a first generation Optimus Prime doll...uh...collectible with this effect. Additionally, there are the very rare people called Icons, whose faith in themselves is so great that they become a Walking Wasteland to the supernatural. Icons have a variety of unspecified powers.
  • I Hate You, Vampire Dad: Mark in Sunset Strip. He was Sally's boyfriend when she was still human and she accidentally killed him when she first became a vampire, and didn't know how to feed without turning the victim.
  • Jerkass: Most vampires tend towards this, but Jeff and Colin stand out.
    • Bill, himself, is this even on his best days.
  • The Magnificent: Vehron, also known as the Destroyer, the Render, the Hater of All Life, the Sun Strider and many other nicknames besides.
  • Morality Pet: Bill becomes one for Sally. Sally is not amused.
    • Morality Chain: Bill actually prevents Sally and Sheila both from going off the deep end.
  • Mugging the Monster: Sally picks up a barfly in Sunset Strip, and he tries to rape her. Things go downhill from there.
  • Noodle Incident: Bill's weekly Dungeons & Dragons game. When Bill failed to show up (on account of having been killed and turned into a vampire) the GM had his character captured by "a tribe of sexually repressed ogres".
  • The Nose Knows: As vampires have enhanced senses, they naturally fall into this trope, being able to track scents for huge distances.
  • Omniscient Council of Vagueness: The First Coven.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Well, yeah. But even in-universe there are two types. Your regular run of the mill vampire and the mythical Freewill, who can feed on the blood of other vampires (which regular vampires can't do) and add their strength onto his own as well as being immune to Compulsion. Also comes with a Super Mode that's been mentioned a few times but never given any great deal of description.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: They're rank and file White Collar Workers for vampires.
  • People Jars: Alexander has a whole closet full of these. It's suggested they're all Freewills.
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: Bill is prone to using homophobic and sexist language. He doesn't seem to have anything against either gays or women but lashes out at pretty much everyone. He gets better in the subsequent series.
  • Power Copying: One of the abilities of the Freewill is to drink the blood of other vampires and add their strength to his own.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Francois' evil plan for the treat negotiations? Create a alliance with the Alma to harvest billions in maple syrup. Too bad Alexander averts Pragmatic Villainy big time.
  • Pregnant Badass: Though Christy is visibly pregnant she kicks nearly as much ass as Sally in Sunset Strip.
  • Professional Butt-Kisser: James's assistant Colin in general, but just about any vampire will switch to ass-kissing mode at the merest hint of the First Coven.
  • Psychopathic Manchild:
    • Gansetseng. She's actually over three hundred years old, but she was turned when she was just twelve and hasn't physically aged since, and has barely aged emotionally thanks to her "father" (actually her some odd great-grandfather) treating her like a child for all her life.
    • Jeff is a more typical example of the trope, acting incredibly childish and having an exaggerated opinion of himself, and throwing a fit whenever he doesn't get his way.
    • Honestly, Bill and his friends weren't that far from this while human. Tom is especially bad as not only is he a toy-obsessed lunatic but he's even more sexist than Bill.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: James the Wanderer is one of the only vampires who doesn't appear to be some brand of crazy or a Smug Snake.
    • Joshua is another example. Then again, he's Jesus.
  • Red Baron: Per Jeff's policy, all the vampires have such a name. Jeff is Night Razor and Bill is Dr Death and so on. Bill dispenses with this policy immediately after killing Jeff.
    • James is actually known as "The Wanderer" and finds the concept slightly less silly than most vampires as a result.
  • Sarcastic Devotee: Sally to Bill.
  • Shout-Out: Numerous. Bill, Tom and Ed are gigantic nerds. Most prominently, Optimus Prime figures into Jeff's demise.
  • Sliding Scale of Vampire Friendliness: Played with as it turns out vampires can actually drink animal blood but aside from during an emergency, no one actually bothers and they're all murderers. Since it turns out it's possible to turn animals into vampires as well (though they don't last long), this is probably a good thing.
  • Silver Bullet: Silver and vampire blood do not mix. It interferes with vampiric healing abilities.
  • Skewed Priorities: When Tom is brainwashed in Holier Than Thou, is it a threat to his girlfriend that snaps him out of it? A threat to his best friend since grade school? No. It's a threat to his action figure collection that does the trick.
  • Smug Snake: Another trait vampires tend to cultivate.
    • Harry Decker, who's a wizard, believes himself to be wise and powerful but his attacks against Bill are phenomenally stupid.
    • Colin serves as this throughout the series, in part because he's just a mid-level manager for the First.
    • More dangerous is Francois who is an ex-Nazi sympathizing Frenchman who ascends to the First and then promptly betrays them.
    • Turd the leader of the Alma is completely confident in his power to beat up the heroes despite constantly getting his ass kicked.
  • Stronger with Age: Vampires become more powerful the older they get.
  • Super Senses: Vampires have stronger senses than humans, and it gets stronger with age.
  • Superpowered Evil Side: Doctor Death proves to be this for Bill and repeatedly saves his life throughout the series. It also takes him over a few times.
  • Theme Naming: Bill lampshades the tendency for wizards to be named "Harry" citing Harry Decker, Harry Potter, Harry Dresden and Harry Houdini.
  • Underestimating Badassery: In Sunset Strip Marlene thinks just because she knew Sally when Sally was still human that she's better than Sally. Sally disabuses her of this notion quickly.
  • Unfazed Everyman: Ed to a certain extent. Though he does react to the big things, he takes most everything else - including discovering that Bill is a vampire - in stride.
  • Unfortunate Names: The Alma seem to lean in this direction via Cross-Cultural Kerfluffle. Between Turd and Muff, it's hard to doubt Gualtieri is doing this on purpose.
  • Yandere: Gan. Oh! so much.
  • Your Vampires Suck: Towards Anne Rice and Twilight.

     Bill of the Dead 
  • Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder: Christy starts to wonder what she ever saw in Tom when he comes back from the dead.
  • Back from the Dead: Tom has been a ghost the entire time and eventually ends up possessing Sheila's body.
  • Character Development: Bill is not nearly as much of a homophobic sexist Jerkass as he used to be. He acknowledges this about himself. He's still an asshole mind you but more of a Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
  • Gender Bender: Tom has been turned into a woman by possessing Sheila.
  • Go Mad from the Isolation: Bill and Christy assume this happened to Tom but he was always like this.
  • Happy Ending Override: Sheila and Bill broke up soon after the events of the original book. Then Sheila decided to release magic back in the world, which results in even more problems than there were originally happening. She also dies in the attempt.
  • Has a Type: It seems that Christy is attracted to grossly immature nerdy men.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Sheila. Subverted by the discovery that she's just trying to make things right.
  • Little Miss Badass: Tina is this once she discovers how to throw fireballs.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Sheila's actions make it possible for magic, monsters, and gods to return to the world.
    • Dave brings back vampirism to the world via using their blood in his hand cream.
  • Promoted to Parent: Bill has been serving as this to Tina.
  • Relationship Upgrade: Surprisingly, Bill and Christy have been together for over a year at the beginning of the novel with the former serving as Tina's surrogate father.

     False Icons 
  • Amazon Brigade: The Dryads are this, all being beautiful warrior women.
  • The Chosen One: Jesse is the Icon and destined to battle the Freewill. Except she's not.
    • The Unchosen One: Jesse discovers she's a failed attempt to create a fake Icon. She reacts poorly. She does, however, get the Blessing of Uranus, though.
  • Cuteness Proximity: Jesse has this reaction to the baby Sasquatch Floof.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Our heroine becomes subject to this once she gains her red hair dye.
  • Remember the New Guy?: This is about a coven, vampires, and a Icon that no one knew about during the events of the original series.