President Toland of the Civilized Zone has a new project the Federation Airlines. His government has invested in reconditioning a 757 for civilian air travel. On the maiden flight from Denver to Los Angeles the plane is destroyed shortly after takeoff by a mysterious bright light. Blade and the Alpha Triad are in Denver along with other Federation dignitaries. An emergency meeting is called.
We find out that the Civilized Zone has heard rumors the Soviets have been building a secret weapon. Located in Cincinnati it quite possibly also shot down the Hurricane jet that was supposed to pick up Blade on his mission to Miami.
It is decided that Blade, Hickok and Geronimo will take the SEAL and check out this new threat to the Federation. After infiltrating the Soviet occupied city our heroes do indeed find out that the Soviets have built a giant death ray. Located atop Lenin’s needle its run by the mad general Ari Stoljarov aka the Butcher. A nickname he got because people he tends to interrogate don’t survive. Now the death ray has been perfected and the next target is the Home. Blade and company must now break through hordes of Soviet soldiers to destroy Lenin’s Needle before their families are incinerated.
Well its been a while since be heard from the Soviets. Of course they’ve been up to no good. Building a honking giant death ray. In Ohio of all places. Its always fun to have the Soviets as the bad guys. This story we find out the fate of the missing Hurricane and are able to retrieve it along with the missing pilot. Blade also comes to the conclusion he needs a vacation which we will find out how that works in the next Blade book.
Shantytown is a rundown cesspool in the northwestern part of Wisconsin. One day a mysterious stranger comes into town. A seven foot tall giant with twin Bowies that goes by the name of Blade. He saves a young bartender at the Booze N’ Women from some unruly ruffians. He gets noticed by the local strongman Daniel Brount and works his way up to his second in command.
Blade has an ulterior motive for coming to Shantytown. A group of raiders had slaughtered some families of Moles on an outing. They were armed with brand new assault rifles. The only clue to the source of the rifles points to Brount. Eventually Blade gets to Brount’s boss Crusher Payne. Crusher heads the Union which controls this part of Wisconsin. He got his name because he likes to crush his enemies with his Monster Machines, construction equipment converted into vehicles of war. He uncovers an alliance between Crusher and the Soviets to flood the Outlands with weapons and eventually destabilize the area for the Soviets to take over.
This book is unique in that it is the first story that features Blade in a solo adventure. There is no other Warriors or the Force to back him up. Just Blade and you know what? Blade is a big enough badass to get the job done himself. Before he is through both the Soviets and the Union are crushed and the Union is pretty much finished. Also we find out that the Soviets are becoming more aggressive and are actively planning to expand their occupied territory. Something that will be prominent in the next Endworld book.
An interesting trivia note. This story takes place close to where I was born. It’s just outside the area to the east.
Blade, Hickok, Rikki and Chastity are still hiking back to the Home. Outside of Memphis they are ambushed my mysterious men in black. Rikki is taken prisoner but Blade and Hickok manage to defeat the attackers. Rikki is taken to Memphis where he finds out the city is ruler by the King. Living in Graceland (an obvious pretender) the King has been building up his army called the Hounds of Hades. He has a grand plan to conquer the world. Very ambitious for a man with just a 129 men in his army. But under LSD he had a vision of the world bowing down before him so it must be doable. Oh yeah the King is also a cross dresser and wears dresses, make-up and high heels.
Blade, Hickok and Chastity are heading for Memphis in a captured halftrack to rescue Rikki. They are ambushed by a brother and sister named Bonnie and Clyde who have a personal grudge against the King and thought Blade and company were his troops. Both groups unite and have a final showdown with the King and his mysterious enforcer the Dark Lord.
The King and his Hounds of Hades are sort of a minor adversary that the warriors have faced in their travels. At 129 men its hardly worth breaking a sweat. They kill about a quarter of them by the third chapter. Indeed when General Thayer is ordering another platoon out the captive Rikki comments “Can you afford to lose more men?” Of course that platoon is wiped out and eventually the King is killed. Some people just have to learn the hard way.
The King while not being that fearsome is definitely the most loathsome and weird adversary they have faced. He is a drug addicted, misogynist, bongo playing, narcissist with delusions of world conquest. He hates women and periodically has one brought to be drugged and raped. That’s why Bonnie has such a hatred for him. She was a victim of one of his invitations to his mansion. Yep the apocalypse brings out all the kooks from the woodwork.
The Dark Lord the fearsome mutant that the King used to instill fear turns out to be a pyrotechnic display from a heavy metal band that acquired Graceland before the war. I have a problem with believing some band called The Bland could buy Graceland. First the place is a money machine. Nobody is going to sell that ATM. Second the outcry of selling such a national treasure would be tremendous. So I didn’t find that part of the story very believable.
I visited Graceland a few years ago. It’s a really cool place. I highly recommend visiting if your in the area.
The force is flying back from their Alaska mission when they get a distress call on the radio. Blade decides to split off and let the other Hurricane with their serious wounded comrades continue on to Los Angeles. Blade lands in southeastern British Columbia and finds a burning trade post. The owner his wife and a friend have been skinned alive and left dead. They are too late to save them but find out from a mysterious old Indian shaman that the pirates have gone on to a settlement called Harrison Hot Springs.
Now Blade debates whether to help or just leave. Canada is not part of the Freedom Federation and this is not an official mission. His teammates are anxious to return to California and check on their wounded friends. Especially Grizzly who is worried about Athena. Well Blade being Blade can’t let innocent people be killed or raped so decides to stop the pirates.
The pirates are lead by Red Beard who indeed does have a bushy red beard. His first mate Fiddler Jack who if he plays the fiddle is never demonstrated in the book although it does sound very piraty. There are also twin mutant brothers called Bug Eyes and Elephant Ears. Named after their obvious physical characteristics. The pirates have come up river to steal the Bowie a former coast guard cutter now used by a family on Lake Harrison.
The team succeeds in destroying the pirates but Sgt. Havoc makes the ultimate sacrifice. When they get back two more team members Thunder and Athena have also succumbed to their wounds. Blade decides to disband the force and the surviving members return home. A despondent Grizzly goes into the Outlands away from civilization.
Well this is a sad ending for a story. Three popular members are killed off. The Force is disbanded. So what happens now? Blade wants to take a long vacation with his wife and son but you know that it will never turn out as planned. An interesting tidbit of info is that mutants have their own prejudices against each other. The twin pirates look down on Grizzly for being so animal like while they just have minor physical deformities.
So this is obviously not the end for Blade and the Force. Which we will explore in the next book.
Blade, Hickok and Rikki-Tikki-Tavi are hiking back from Miami after their mission has been completed. For some reason the Hurricane VTOL that was supposed to pick them up never showed up. Now they have a long walk back to Minnesota. Around Atlanta they come across a young six year old girl named Chastity. Her mother was killed by what she calls the Bubbleheads. Blade decides to go into Atlanta and find the girls aunt. They can’t just leave her alone for the mutants to get.
Blades finds that Atlanta is now a walled off police state. An oligarchy called the Peers rule with a ruthless iron fist. The people are treated like cattle and must wear color coded jumpsuits for their specific class. Anyone that reached the age of 66 is sent to the sleep chambers for euthanasia. The Peers believe that at that age you are a burden to society and must be eliminated. Indeed anyone deemed unproductive is put to the sleep chambers.
Blade is captured while trying to help an old man escape such a fate. He is sentenced to Maze. Here he finds out what the Bubbleheads are. Called Terminators they wear silver fire resistant suits and carry flamethrowers. He must now survive the Maze and escape to his friends. Meanwhile Hickok and Rikki hook up with the local resistance outside and devise a plan to rescue Blade.
The seventeenth book is another action packed book. Having the warriors stranded in Florida now sets up a story arch of travel through the southern US. Atlanta is also another weird society and the Peers are another of the many kooky enemies that Blade has made throughout the series. They also pick up the little girl Chastity who is an adorable character. She bonds with Hickok and decides that he should be her new daddy. Hickok seems open to the idea and now must figure out how to explain this to his wife.
The Force has not had any action for five months now and they are starting to get a little restless. Blade starts to wonder if the Force is actually needed. Fortunately General Gallagher comes with an assignment. Eric Holtmeyer of Holtmeyer Industries is an international conglomerate that has approached the Federation with an offer. He has reactivated the Alaskan pipeline and will provide fuel in exchange for one hundred million in gold.
Now Blade is surprised like everyone else that international conglomerates still exist. The Federation needs the fuel so he agrees to take the Force up to Alaska and check out Holtmeyer. They arrive at Prudhoe Bay and find the place up and running. They also find some refugees from a James Bond movie. Eric Holtmeyer is your typical rich Bond villain. He has an army of mercenaries, a taste for luxury and a gold painted limo and helicopter. He has the two classic henchpeople. Lalita Pruty is a platinum blonde bimbo in tight pants that has a sinister lethality about her. The other is Kan Tang a seven foot tall Thai that is a deadly expert in martial arts. He also doesn’t wear any shoes even in the artic.
Well its pretty obvious that this bunch is up to no good and that is precisely what they find out. Holtmeyer works for the Lords of Kismet. They now rule all of Asia and have plans to take over North America. They were going to sell the oil with a chemical in it that over time would cause degenerative brain damage. Then they could easily walk right in and take over. In a surprise Lalita is actually Janus Goldmane an Exalted Executioner for the Lords of Kismet. She’s the one in charge and to prove it has Holtmeyer get on his knees and kiss her boots.(I think I might have worked for this woman at one time.)
Well none of these characters are a match for Blade and the Force. Holtmeyer and Tang are taken out and Prudhoe bay goes up in flames. Janus Goldmane does survive to probably some day down the road get revenge on Blade and more than likely have future lackeys kiss her boots.
The fourth book is a welcome change and starts to take the series in a whole new direction. The Lords of Kismet are a worthy and sinister new enemy. The force starts to function as a team and Athena comes to the realization that she loves Grizzly. All around a fun and action packed story.