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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:

  • Big Bad Wannabe: 'Major' Gavin thinks he's all hot shit because him and his goons can intimidate a bunch of normal townsfolk. Then Brian riddles him with bullets during his villainous ranting, leads the Woodbury citizens in subduing Gavin's men, and takes charge as... The Governor.
  • April goes through this too.
  • It's implied Brian was going through this even before the zombies showed up.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Faceā€“Heel Turn: Brian goes from being the voice of reason to...well, you know. Philip undergoes one of these as we all know he would given he's Penny's father. He's not the Governor, though.
  • Foreshadowing: The Governor killing Gavin by emptying his revolver into the general direction of the guy's face after Gavin goes on a murderous power trip foreshadows how the Governor himself will later meet his end at the hands of one of his own people under similar circumstances.
  • 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.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Brian, at the end. Too bad it only happens after he's completely lost it.
  • 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.
  • 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.