THE GUARDIANS TRIAL BY FIRE BY RICHARD AUSTIN

Standard

Copyright 1985.

It is two weeks after the One-Day War. The worst is over and the fallout is receding. Yet a general breakdown of society continues. In Oklahoma a wild eyed prophet emerges. Josiah Coffin claims to be a messenger from God and the survivors fall under his sway. His Church of the New Dispensation gains an important convert in one Nathan Bedford Forrest Smith a rich televangelist who has a well stocked compound in Oklahoma City. Using his resources his gospel is spread all across the country.

Meanwhile in Europe Chairman Maximov consolidates his hold on the Federated States of Europe. He has the Internationalist Council killed and made to look like a terrorist attack. Yet he has problems as Europe’s industry is destroyed and basic food and supplies are becoming critical. He needs the Blueprint for Renewal. This is what the Guardians are now searching for. In their V-450 armored car called Mobile One they set out from the secret underground base called Heartland in Iowa. The first lead takes them to Kansas City and a Dr. Okeda. The university he is at is under siege by followers of Coffin. Okeda is killed by the mob so the Guardians next stop is Denver.

An administrator is the next possible link to the Blueprint. Unfortunately he has converted to the Church of the New Dispensation and thrown open the doors to the Federal Center. Trajan the head of the Roman faction that took over the CIA and is a minion of Maximov has infiltrated the cult. He ambushes the Guardians and both Mckay and Sloane are left to die in a nuclear crater that took out Colorado Springs. Luckily the other two survived and rescued them. They find the final possible member on their list at a survivalist group in the San Luis Valley. Trajan knows this and the Brothers of Mercy the enforces of the church are launching a crusade against the valley. They have nerve gas captured from an army depot and the survivalists are doomed unless the Guardians can kill the mad prophet put an end to the crusade.

The second book in the series is even better than the first. It sets up that the Guardians main mission will be to search for the Blueprint. It will be sort of like a puzzle. We also get to see how the country is coming along. In places like Kansas City the mayor has things under control but still didn’t want to get involved with antagonizing the New Dispensation Church. Other places like Denver were hit hard and completely destroyed. Another interesting thing is that in the nineties the author envisioned these groups known as road gypsies. They were inspired by the Mad Max movies to play road warriors with mohawks and armored up dune buggies. They are living the dream after the war with pillaging and raping. They are recruited by the New Dispensation and become enforcers for them.

I enjoyed the concept of a religious cult springing up after the nuclear war. This seems like a likely possibility and Josiah Coffin is a completely crackers type of prophet who starts believing in human sacrifice. The Church continues on in Reverend Smith and his stronghold in Oklahoma. They are a problem for the Guardians throughout this series. This was a great series with characters who had their own personalities that were believable and a world that was well thought through and also believable. One of my favorites.

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