I decided to read this book in preparation to review the second in this series, based on a terrific review by a fellow blogger. I was so taken with it, I decided to review this one as well.
This book is a really wrenching description of the future of mankind in its third age, and as a result, I really don’t want to know how we got to a third age!
The story opens lovingly, with the President of Hemera injecting his wife and children with a drug that will let them sleep away the next hundred years, to avoid the ravages of the imminent nuclear destruction of the planet. His hope is that when they awaken, he can lead in the rebuilding of the planet. One hundred years later, a distress signal from Hemera is received on its sister planet Erebus, notifying the corrupt government there that the President and his family are alive and expecting rescue.
Lane is a bounty hunter, having been dishonorably discharged from Erebus’ army for a friendly fire incident, and he is chosen by Colonel Padon to be a member of what Dugan hopes will be a lost mission. Padon, a man who Lane loathes, was Lane’s immediate superior when he was in the Army, and he blackmails Lane to force him to join the mission.
The operation is expected to be straightforward, because every indicator describes a planet as a dry shell of barren sand, all forms of life having been extinguished by the nuclear war. Intelligence reports weren’t intelligent, and the operation is anything but what was planned, and the person leading it was in on that secret.
The team is composed of soldiers who mistrust and even hate each other, including a former lover of Lane’s, whose brother was killed in the friendly fire. Egos and over confidence are rampant, at least until they land, a landing which almost doesn’t succeed because of mechanical difficulties. Another reviewer describes Hemera as a “yellow ball of misery,” and I couldn’t have said it better: desert dry sand for miles and no apparent life, at least until the ship is attacked by feral inhabitants. Think Mad Max.
The author does an excellent job of painting the bleakness of the landscape and the rubble and ruin of the capitol city of Magna. Tension ramps up as the team makes its way to the origin of the signal, tracked and picked off by horrifying monsters, the product of ghastly genetic mutations.
Lane faces the toughest battle of his life to survive the operation, with the additional danger of a team member sent with orders to kill him.
This was a gritty and occasionally gruesome tale, with more graphic violence than in my usual reading choices. However, the author does such a good job that I bought into the characters and their emotions – loyalty, love, hatred and mind-numbing fear. It’s a story told from multiple points of view, although Lane’s is the core. I was never confused and seeing through different eyes enriched my understanding of the world the author has created and of the various motives of the characters.
This book is not for the faint of heart. Think it’s appeal with be stronger to men and to those readers who have an affinity for dystopian worlds. Nevertheless, it’s a heart-stopping adventure and I will read the sequel soon.
Four and a half stars
About the author (from Amazon):
Dylan J. Morgan was born in New Zealand and raised in the United Kingdom. He now works in Norway and writes during those rare quiet moments amid a hectic family life: after dark, with limited sustenance, and when his creative essence is plagued the most by tormented visions. A member of the Horror Writers Association, he has published 8 books, all available on Amazon.
You can find him:
You can find The Dead Lands on Amazon