THE MARAUDERS THE GHOST WARRIORS BY MICHAEL MCGANN

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Copyright 1990.

The Marauders are heading back home and decide to take the long scenic route by going through The Ukraine. It is here that they run into the Howlers. Genetically made troops for Chairman Maximov in his goal of conquering the world. The Howlers are created by the son of a Nazi scientist who decides to carry on the family tradition. Luckily Maximov being a good Communist Russian has no qualms about using this nutjobs works. In fact Maximov admires Hitler and believes that the only reason Hitler lost was because he was too lenient with people. Something Maximov has no plans of doing.

Well the leader Crazy Jack Keenan is captured and exposed to the neurotoxin that turns people into Howlers. But thanks to the intervention of their dead teammate’s spirit Tom Bee, Kennan manages to adapt to the toxin and become superhuman. Thus he and his fellow Marauders free the Ukraine and send Maximov packing.

Wow this has to be one of the worst books I have ever read. There is just a whole boatload of things that don’t make sense. Like trying to go back to England by going east into the Ukraine. Or that the Howlers are created by exposure to neurotoxin that over-heightens the senses. It drives men crazy and they kill anybody else. When nobody is around they kill themselves. Yet in the beginning the Marauders are fighting ones that drive jeeps, shoot assault rifles and are working together. Oh and they only last two hours so the kooky scientist is constantly processing people. For what purpose? God was this book bad. The series hit its low point with this turkey.

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THE MARAUDERS CONVOY STRIKE BY MICHAEL MCGANN

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Copyright 1990.

The Marauders are in New Germany to organize resistance. They meet up with an old geezer who with some friends are selling guns. They found a mountain full of weapons. Unfortunately this old geezer informed the FSE that he was meeting the famous Marauders. Naturally they overreact and attack the village slaughtering ever man, woman and child. Buddha Chan stays behind to cover his friends escape and is assumed lost.

But Buddha is instead captured by the FSE. They perform brain washing on him to convince him that he is a loyal agent of the FSE and the Marauders are his sworn enemies. The Marauders meanwhile are looking for the mountain of weapons and link up with some orphans who are living in a castle run by Uzi toting monks. They eventually link up with their comrade Buddha who they manage to break the mind control. They then blow up the mountain of weapons and kill Giles Robespierre who was Maximov’s flunky. Another flunky Igor Vesensky get to feel Maximov’s wrath by having his thumb shot off.

The fourth book in the series continues its slide to utter stupidity. A plot that meanders around to a pointless ending. Once again extremely bad dialogue and writing make this a barely readable book.

THE MARAUDERS LIAR’S DICE BY MICHAEL MCGANN

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Copyright 1990.

The forces of the the Federated States of Europe are gathering in France for an assault on Britain. King Shatterhand’s forces are still training and not yet ready. So he sends the Marauders to France to link up with the Free France movement. Unfortunately the Marauders are ambushed just off Normandy and one of their number Kinski is missing and presumed dead. But Kinski is not dead and washes up on shore where he is found by a French policeman. The policeman convinces him to join the FSE and he takes him to Jean Gallac the number two man in the FSE goon squads that terrorize the countryside. The Goon Squads go around and kill all the old people and rape the women. Gallac is a despicable child rapist who really gets off on his work. So Kinski who is nicknamed the Silver Tongue because he has a gift for lying manages to join the FSE and works from destroying it from within.

Meanwhile the other three Marauders link up with Marie Marette a big beefy Frenchwoman who is leader of the resistance. They gather the resistance forces outside Paris. This is where they link up with Kinski who they find out is alive. So Kinski uses his newfound position in the FSE to take his three comrades as prisoner to see Giles Robespierre the FSE head of France. They find out that all the troublemakers are kept prisoner in Paris and conveniently the armories are located right next to the prisoners. So they bust them out and with a stolen helicopter free France from the FSE.

Well another entry in the series has our heroes being the only ones in all of Europe who have any competence whatsoever. Indeed the FSE opponents are dumb as tree stumps. Its filled with rape and murder and the Marauders killing people by the truck load. Once again filled with bad writing, unbelievable plot, cartoon like characters and just general goofyness.

THE MARAUDERS BLOOD KIN BY MICHAEL MCGANN

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Copyright 1989.

Britain is now free of the Federated States of Europe and is the center of resistance. King Shatterhand now turns his attention to Ireland. A shipment of arms is coming from the black market in Iceland. It is headed for Londonderry in Northern Ireland. The FSE goon in charge of Ireland is using two families the Woodses and Clancys who are Catholic and Protestant to intercept this shipment.

So the four Marauders go to Northern Ireland to a small village where the two families are vying for control and pose as mercenaries. They kill a bunch of the Woodses men and get in as hired guns from them. They also cut a deal with the Clancys where they will pretend to work for the Woodses but really work for them. They end up killed a whole bunch of both sides men before the FSE betrays both sides and takes to guns for themselves. Luckily this unites Catholic and Protestant and they manage to kick the FSE out of Ireland.

The second book in the series is even worse than the first. It is a loose ripoff of Yojimbo/Fistful of Dollars. Interesting this was a similar plot for the first Traveler book that Ed Naha wrote. Even down to the gun shipment coming through that everyone wanted. Only unlike the Traveler this is really bad. Why are the guns coming through? Why can they get away with killing all these men of the guys that the Marauders are supposed to be working for? A very convoluted plot that made little sense.

So I’ll end with a little except from the book.

They’re going to get away! Mamudi exclaimed.
Jack slid out of the jeep and slowly, casually began picking up
whatever salvageable pistols he could find in the street. “Naah,” he said with a shrug.
A minute later Kinski strode out from the long dormant ruins of the Ferngall. Jack was
busy piling the pistols in the jeep. “Any survivors?” he asked.
“Are you kidding?” Kinski asked. “Half of them shot each other.”
Mamudi still sat in the jeep, removing slivers of singed hair from his scalp.
Kinski offered him a comb. “I like it,” he said. “Very butch.”

Yes if your opponents are so incompetent they kill each other there isn’t much tension about our heroes failing that is building up.

THE MARAUDERS BY MICHAEL MCGANN

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Copyright 1989.

Chairman Yevgeny Maximov of the Federated States of Europe has a plan for world domination. He already controls the nations of Europe but now has set his eyes on the United States. He is going to reactivate the North Sea oil rigs which will give him the fuel to activate his air force. Willis “Shatterhand” MacGregor a former policeman in a small Scottish village who already had his hand shattered by Maximov’s goons decides to do something about it. He goes to America and warns his cousin Jeffrey MacGregor the President. MacGregor in his underground fortress of Heartland decides to sent an elite squad to stop Maximov. Code named the Marauders they are five highly trained special forces men.

Captain “Crazy Jack” Keenan. A Green Beret with three tours of duty in Nicaragua. West Point graduate with M.S. degrees in chemistry and physics. Written a book on new age physics. Wife and children killed in the nuclear exchange. He is described as not needing a weapon because “He is a weapon.”

Lt. Thomas Bee a Hopi Indian who is a veteran of Vietnam. Highly trained and uses mini-crossbow and shurikens. Also a teacher who teaches children at his village how to live in peace with the Earth. With the stars. Sister Moon. Brother Sun. But the white man fucked it all up so went back into the army.

Gunnery Sgt. Winston “Buddha” Chan. The best sniper in the Marine Corp. Is called Buddha because well he looks like Buddha if he joined the Marine Corp. His family is from Mongolia where his father was a local Ford dealer. A Ford dealer in Communist Mongolia? I don’t think there’s one now. The author seems to be pulling stuff out of thin air.

Chief Petty Officer Farouz “Freddie” Mamoudi. A Navy SEAL of Afghani descent. He comes from the neighboring Soviet republic of Kazahkstan. The author should look at a map sometime. As a kid he lost his eye to a Soviet sniper. Now he likes to wear decorative glass eyes with stuff like skull & crossbones, a lion, the Navy seal. He also is a confirmed polygamist who likes to marry women wherever he goes. Also has a large collection of knives which he likes to use in combat. Even when using a gun would be more practical.

Captain Peter Kinski USAF. An expert in electronics and a pilot. Favorite weapon an AK-47 with a folding stock. He also wears a Pompadour hairstyle. He is always combing it back.

So this merry little group makes its way to Scotland with Shatterhand. They get ambushed at the airport but easily take out their ambushers. So they eventually link up with the Scottish resistance. Along the way people are shot, blown up, stabbed and heads blown off with our heroes casually shaking off the bits of brain matter. They eventually defeat Maximov’s East European army and kill the puppet king Edward a former pimp and drug dealer. The people proclaim Shatterhand their king and so starts the resistance.

Oh yeah and Tom Bee after the battle is won drives a motorboat filled with explosives into an oil rig after the fight is won. A pointless death but I guess thinned out the group to a manageable four.

Well the publishers decided to make a spinoff of the popular Guardians series. On paper it had a lot of promise. A counterpart group of the Guardians would be waging a war against the FSE. So they gave it to some writer and basic premises and told him to churn out some books. What we get is this God awful mess.

First it has nothing to do with the Guardians. The writer just made up his own story. In this Maximov is a KGB general who takes over and with the remnants of the Red Army go into Europe and establish his own lackeys in control. It is also just horrible writing. Cardboard characters, stilted dialogue and improbable plot all make this series such a rich experience. I think Ed Naha the guy responsible for the Traveler series wrote this series. The Milk run scenario for how WWIII started is straight out of Traveler. Also other books show him recycling stuff he wrote for that series. I can’t find anything in any official bibliography which considering how bad these books are is no surprise he would suppress anything to do with them.

The ending for this book was truly bizarre. It has Maximov siting alone in his castle after the Marauders defeat him in Britain. After giving orders to his lackeys that the benevolent dictatorship is coming to an end he worries about getting fed liver for dinner. What is his mommy cooking for him. Your a dictator. Order your chef to cook a hamburger or Spaghetti-Os. The guy is always shooting people with his .357 at the slightest whim. Shoot the guy who tries to feed you liver.

And at the end a little kitten wanders in and snuggles up to him. He reaches down and snaps it’s neck. Well if you didn’t know he was evil already I guess you needed it to be reinforced with breaking a kitten’s neck.

THE GUARDIANS DEATH CHARGE BY RICHARD AUSTIN

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Copyright 1991.

Tom Rogers is in Hawaii for a government experiment. They are testing the effects of magnetic fields on the human body. While he is strapped in a chair being subjected to these fields a group of Hawaiian separatists attack the compound. It causes an explosion that makes the entire compound invisible and Rogers is also invisible. The separatists were hired by an agent of Iskander Bey who survived the laser assassination from a previous book. Iskander was worried that this experiment could lead to an alternate energy source and make his hold on Mideast oil worthless.

So Rogers as an invisible man makes it to the ship of the agent Moheb Nazrullah an Afghan trained by the KGB but now in the service of the Pan-Turanians. There is some hijinks between the two that sees Rogers captured and then feed to the sharks. But Rogers manages to escape and continue after Nazrullah. Meanwhile in Washington Maggie Connolly the chief of staff misinterprets the President and thinks she is supposed to have Rogers assassinated. She sends Rogers former lover to do the job. She lands in Hawaii and gets kidnapped by the separatist and gang raped. She eventually manages to escape and kill her captors. The other Guardians meanwhile are also searching for their friend. It all comes together on the big island of Hawaii.

So this is the final Guardians book and it goes out with a whimper instead of a bang. The whole book just doesn’t feel like a Guardians book. It really suffered when Victor Milan left the series. Tom Rogers is usually the strong quiet type but here he seems so out of character. He is a regular chatty Cathy. He also is constantly moping about the loss of his girlfriend. Now that has some potential to have him in a relationship but it was just handled so sloppy.

Then there is the whole invisible man thing. Just hokey beyond belief. The whole first part of the book with him and Nazrullah capturing each other is more of an Abbot and Costello movie then a Guardians book. Indeed the Hawaiian islands seem untouched by the nuclear war with tourists still coming in. The whole way Connolly gets the wrong idea to assassinate Rogers and sends his former flame just makes no logical sense. The other Guardians have a very limited role in the whole book.

Now in 1991 the Soviet Union collapses and so did most of these books with it. But if this was the way the series was going it would have most likely died, even if the Soviets were going strong, with such horrible writing. This was a sad ending to what I think was one of the greatest of the post-nuclear war series from the eighties. I think it deserved a better ending.

THE GUARDIANS SNAKE EYES BY RICHARD AUSTIN

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Copyright 1990.

The Guardians have successfully stopped Maximov’s plan for world domination with the Cygnus laser in orbit. Now their shuttle is coming in for a crash landing in Alaska. Here they then have to fight a Soviet cavalry charge off. Meanwhile Dr. John Mallory also managed to escape and lands somewhere in Arkansas. Unfortunately for him he is taken prisoner by a bunch of LSD loving rednecks that plan to crucify him because you see they blame all scientists for the recent nuclear war.

So the Guardians manage to eventually get out of Alaska and their next mission is to find Dr. Mallory before Maximov can. Maximov has already dispatched his own squad of killers called the Serpent Squad. A former Spetsnaz squad that now works for the FSE. Mallory manages to escape with the help of a young teen who isn’t like the other drug induced morons he’s with and take him to the safety of a government run installation. This installation is monitoring for earthquakes and has planted explosive charges on the fault lines.

The rednecks then manage to take the compound and Mallory then manages to make a deal with the redneck leader. He can provide LSD and has a plan to use the earthquake research to blackmail the world into making him its ruler or he will cause massive earthquakes. Just then the Guardians and the Serpent Squad show up and all hell breaks loose.

So this is the beginning of the end for the Guardians. This is the first non-Victor Milan book. The new author seems ok. He knows the past books and demonstrates that he has a good grasp on the universe. I mean a lot happens in the book. They fight a sabre charge by Soviet cavalry. They parachute with their armored car Mobile One into a river and fight rednecks riding on jet skis and later a float plane.

Its a competent story but just doesn’t feel like a Guardians story. For one thing this author really overdoes the comic banter. Some is ok but just continuous is just too much. The elite squad to fight the Guardians has already been done before. Finally the whole Mallory attempt to take over the world by causing earthquakes is just plain goofy. Indeed he is a sort of a goof ball with his obsession on ruling the world and getting revenge on the Guardian’s leader McKay for leaving him for dead in outer space. Actually here is an excerpt of his plans:

Then he would force Chairman Maximov to return his daughter,after which he would persuade President MacGregor to send one William McKay for execution. Then he would insist both leaders give up their power and yield to a higher life form-him. Then he would rule the world the way is was meant to be ruled: with justice, intelligence, and ,most importantly, with compassion. But first he had to crucify Dr. Ralston.

Yep he definitely sounds like a compassionate man.