The Lords of Kismet are out to get revenge on Blade and the Freedom Force. After their failure with the Pipeline Strike they sent their most diabolical assassins. Ancient shapeshifters called the Gualaon that are nearly indestructible and can change into anyone or thing in minutes. They also have a craving for human flesh.
Blade returns with Grizzly from their adventures in the last book. He knows that he must somehow get rid of General Gallagher but with Havoc and Athena dead his proof against him is gone. Blade settles in to integrate Grizzly and Havoc’s replacement his younger brother Sgt. Stephen Havoc. Soon after the Force has a run in with a small young girl that can scale electrified fences and mysterious threatening messages written in human blood posted on the side of their barracks. The weirdness comes to a head when Blade is attacked in his office by Jaguarundi. Jaguarundi is immediately placed under arrest which further lowers the moral of the Force.
Into this Gallagher arranges a training exercise for the Force in a remote valley. A demoralized Force soon finds out that it is a trap. Gallagher has been replaced by a Gualaon and Sgt Havoc is also a shapeshifter. Now the Force is in a fight for their lives where an enemy can easily be a trusted comrade.
So General Gallagher has been replaced by a shapeshifter. This does explain why he became a total dickweed. Originally he seemed to be an honorably man if not a firm supporter of the Force. So this is the final book in the Blade series. I did ask the author on his facebook page if he was also going to revive his series with a Blade #14. His cryptic reply was that things have changed drastically for the Federation and the Freedom Force. It will be made clear in the next Endworld. So I am anxiously waiting for the release of this new book.
My final thoughts on this series is I really liked it. Obviously it was created to milk the success of the Endworld series. It was an entertaining series and in some ways I liked it even better than Endworld. It got Blade out of the walled Home and into the real world where he interacted with people not of the family. It introduced others from the various factions of the Federation. It also kept up Robbin’s talent for introduction wacky villains and strange locations. So while the Blade series is done I suspect that the characters established will make appearances in future Endworld books. Definitely not the end.
In the last book Blade found out that Athena the reported on the Force did not die. Her death was faked with the help of General Gallagher. Athena was having second thoughts on a relationship with Grizzly. After all he is a friggin Grizzly bear-human hybrid. Now that Blade has found out Athena’s deception he decides to find Grizzly in the outlands. Athena and Captain Havoc accompany him.
The search takes them to a place called Mesaville. Mesaville is an underground city built under a mesa in the Arizona desert. It is a haven for every scumbucket in the outlands. Its run by a seven foot mutant by the name of Death Master. There gladiatorial games are performed with humans against various mutant creatures both humanoid and animal. Grizzly is one of the star attractions in these games.
After an awkward reunion Blade earns the enmity of Death Master. This is fine with Blade since he has decided that this cesspool of iniquity must be cleansed. Four against hundreds and many mutant hybrids. Mesaville’s days are numbered.
This is a sad book. Athena does decide that she made a mistake and confesses her love for Grizzly. Unfortunately before the two can have a happy life she sacrifices hers to save him. Captain Havoc also dies. Two likable characters die in this. We do get Grizzly back into the Force and he was a popular character. Also there is still unresolved issues that Blade has with General Gallagher that are sure to play a prominent role in the next book.
Blade has found evidence that a former force member Athena Morris did not die. He embarks on a quest to find out the true fate of Athena. While in L.A. Blade rescues an old bag lady from a gang of thugs called the Pagan Warlords. Their leader Mickey gets a serious ass whipping. Now Mickey is an over sensitive thug who has his feelings hurt because of the ass kicking. So he takes on a personal vendetta to make Blade pay. Never mind that Blade has taken on opponents far more dangerous that some punk gang members. Mickey is too dumb and pretty much commits suicide in taking on Blade.
Blade’s quest takes him from Los Angeles to San Francisco. He has to battle not only the Pagan Warlords but General Gallagher’s minions to find out the truth of Athena’s fate.
After the L.A. Strike the author must have felt that Blade needed a story highlighting him in a fight against a street gang. This is primarily a Blade story with the rest of the force except Havoc making a brief appearance. The main interest in this story is that Athena Morris is found alive at the end which set up a whole new interesting story arc. Captain Mike Havoc also decides that General Gallagher is wrong about Blade and firmly aligns himself with Blade. This was an interesting story and I can’t wait to see where it goes.
The Cavalry has been having a spate of disappearances lately. They finally get a witness to an abduction. People are being abducted in the night by winged creatures. Kilrane the leader of the Cavalry requests help from the Freedom Force. Blade agrees to the request and the Force is off to South Dakota.
Once there they track the creatures into a dead zone. Those areas hit by a nuclear blast and now completely devoid of life. Except this zone is teeming with mutant bat-men. If not stopped the bat-men could breed into the thousands and the entire Midwest would become their hunting ground.
The tenth book in the series is an ok read. The bat-men are not an intelligent mutant race with the conceit of conquering the world that Blade usually runs into. They are just predators hunting on instinct which make them a much more scary adversary. What I liked about this book is that it takes the Force to one of the other Federation factions instead of around California. The Cavalry is a colorful cowboy culture and we find out some background on Doc Madsen. He gets to avenge his father’s killing at the end of the book. Also some of Raphaela’s sad story of growing up with her aunt is revealed. An interesting book if not the most exciting story in the series.
After their success with El Diablo the governor decides to reward the Force. They get an all expense paid three days in Los Angeles at the most expensive hotel. Blade is wary about this but relents when the other Force members really want to take up the governor’s generous offer. In reality Blade’s worries are well founded. General Gallagher has a plan to discredit the Force. He hopes that the wild members most being from more primitive factions will tear up the town.
The force minus Blade who decides to stay back to catch up on paperwork check into the swankiest hotel and decide to hit the town. The snooty hotel clerk recommends the China White the hottest nightclub. Well L.A. has retained its lifestyle pretty much as it was before the war. It has also retained it’s less savory elements in two street gangs the Brothers and the Hollywood Barons. The club is owned by the Brothers and while visiting is attacked by the Barons. Raphaela is mistaken for the leader of the Brother’s girlfriend and kidnapped. Now the force is caught in the middle of a gang war.
This is an interesting adventure for the Force. The story is pretty conventional with no weird mutants or world power man dictators. Just your typical drug dealing gangs. Of course the members are colorful. The Brother’s are lead by the suave Mr. Bad and his henchman the Claw. A guy who has of course a prosthetic metal claw. The Baron’s are lead by Mr. Owsley a guy big as a truck and strong as one.
What makes this story interesting is that the Force starts to bond as a unit. Captain Havoc has serious doubts about General Gallagher’s plan. A plan that goes down in flames as newspaper reports praise another Force victory in eliminated the street gangs. It is also notable for the absence of Blade. He doesn’t really show up until the final chapter. This would be the first book were Blade is not the main player in the action.
It has been nine months since Blade disbanded the force. While he had some time with his family he was still kept busy fighting the Soviets, naked cultists, salamander men etc. Now the Freedom Force is once again being assembled with an all new batch of recruits. The recruits are an eclectic mix of men, woman and mutant hybrid. Still this group seems to have a lot more potential then the last bunch.
Shortly after the new recruits arrive General Gallagher suggests a training mission. From Baja a vicious raider called El Diablo has been raiding towns on the southern border. Swooping down in armored dune buggies they rape and loot the unsuspecting towns. Gallagher proposes that the Force track down El Diablo’s gang to their camp. Then call in an airstrike to wipe them out.
Blade is reluctant to take out the newly formed force until they have been properly trained but the mission sounds low risk and would provide some valuable field training. Well of course everything goes wrong from the beginning. They are ambushed and one of them is captured. Now the force has no choice but to take on El Diablo and send him and his minions to meet the real Devil.
Finally the force is back. With a whole new bunch. This book does a good job of introducing the new members. The villain while evil is not the typical megalomaniac with world conquest plans. He was an immigrant to California with his wife. Shortly after arriving his wife was raped and killed by a gang of hooligans. Now he has an extreme hatred of all Californians and takes out his revenge. Also we find out that General Gallagher is working to destroy the force. He feels its a waste of resources and wants to ruin Blade’s reputation which is why he suggested this easy mission.
So I will give a role call to the new members.
Doc Madsen from the Calvary. A gambler, gunfighter and drifter. A quick draw with his magnums and a real laid back attitude.
Raphaela from the Moles. A beautiful 21 year old redhead. Inexperienced and somewhat naïve. She joined to escape the Moles for a personal reason not yet disclosed.
Sparrow Hawk from the Flathead Indians. Another excellent warrior and tracker.
Lobo from the Clan. A former gang member from the Twin cities. Is somewhat of a slacker and bullshit artist.
Jaguarundi from the Civilized Zone. Another hybrid from the Doktor’s Genetic Research Division. As his name implies he is a jaguarundi-human hybrid. Has a more agreeable personality and doesn’t have a chip on his shoulder like Grizzly.
Captain Mike Havoc of the California Army. Sgt. Havoc’s younger brother. Another professional soldier. He joined the force to conspire with General Gallagher against Blade. Blames him for his brother’s death but finds himself with a growing admiration for Blades leadership after this mission.
Well its finally here. Blade gets a vacation. We have been hearing about his need for one these past few books and now he finally gets time off. Plato finds in the founders journal a mention of a cabin ten miles to the north. Next to a lake it sounds like the perfect place to relax. So Blade get to take the SEAL and his wife Jenny and son Gabe for two weeks of fishing and lazing around.
Of course post-apocalypse Minnesota isn’t the vacation spot it once was. Initially the cabin is found intact and the lake is teeming with fish. It truly looks as if Blade can finally relax with his family. Unfortunately Blade is wounded in an attack by a sleazy scavenger named Roy who lusts after Blades wife. Later the whole family has to fight off salamander men that live in the lake. Meanwhile empaths at the Home have a vision of Blade in danger and Plato sends out their fastest warrior Sampson to run up to the cabin. Will he make it in time to save Blade and his family?
So Blade takes a vacation. I think the author also took one from writing. The story is interesting but after traveling to all these exotic locations and fearsome foes, a cabin by the lake and salamander men is somewhat of a let down. Blade the warrior that takes on Soviets, mutants, androids and warlords is almost taken down by a sad sack scavenger. Kind of out of character for Blade. And the salamander men are not that much of an enemy.
Still there are some positives to this book. We get introduced to Blade’s wife and son. We get to see Blade as a father and husband which is an interesting side to his character. Also we are introduced to one of the other warriors Sampson. Still it was on whole a mediocre entry in the Blade series. Luckily for the next book the Force is reassembled with all new characters.