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.
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.
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.
The small town of Aguana lies just on the outskirts of the San Diego Dead Zone. One night they are raided by the vampires. Vampires are mysterious mutants that have plagued California for decades. Little is known about them except they strike in the night and abduct mostly young women. It is decided to send Blade and the Force to hunt them down and eliminate them once and for all.
The Force barely has time to recover from their last mission against the Reptiliods before they find themselves off to San Diego. They track the vampires to the blasted ruins of San Diego. There they find a race of people that are descended from survivors that lived in a fallout shelter. To survive they turned to drinking their own blood and now the descendants must feed on human blood to survive. The exhausted and outnumbered Force must fight against overwhelming odds to survive.
Another evil race of mutants that are plaguing humanity. Their leader Corpus doesn’t seem to share the typical delusion of world conquest that the other mutant leaders have exhibited. Indeed he has a much more grounded grasp of reality. Of course he is still a narcissistic douchebag that you can’t help but find quite satisfying when he gets skewered on Grizzly’s claws.
Some interesting developments in this book. The Clan sent Bear as a replacement for the recently deceased Kraft. He is known from past adventures and will be a much more reliable member than the dipshit Kraft ever was. Also Grizzly begins to overcome his prejudice against humans and finds his purpose in life. He also comes to the realization that he loves Athena. She of course still view his as a friend. So possible future tensions with this development.
Word has come out of a mutant confederation that is forming in the outlands. The Freedom Federation decides to send the force to investigate. So Blade and the force go in and check out the city of Grant’s Pass, Oregon. Things don’t go as planned and they are captured by a race of reptilian men. Taken to the city they find it is ruled by a mutant race called the Reptiloids. They are ruled by Reptilian a mutant that has an interest in the old Roman empire and hopes to recreate his own version.
In his Imperium he holds gladiator matches where the loser is make into hamburgers. Literally with ketchup and buns. The Reptiloids have a taste for human flesh. Now Blade the force must survive the arena or be turned into Big Macs.
The second in the series sees the force start to form into a cohesive team. Havoc, Boone and Thunder start to form a friendship and there is a growing bond between Grizzly and Athena. Kraft is killed but he was sort of an asshat so that’s no big loss. Reptilian is a jovial mutant with a sense of humor and can even laugh at jokes directed at him. Nice to see that the villains in the series aren’t all grim and dour. Of course he is also a delusional megalomaniac with the standard dream of world conquest.
I will say that the Pacific Northwest is probably a place you want to avoid after the apocalypse. If it isn’t mutants trying to make you into burgers they are putting you into Humariums to perform for their amusement. Yup I think I’ll just stay in the Midwest. It’s probably safer.
Its the first day on the job for Blade as leader of the Freedom Force. The Hurricane VTOL’s are bringing in the recruits from each of the factions to the compound north of Los Angeles. It becomes apparent that the group is a mixed bag of individuals. Some are known to Blade and are solid. Others are not up to standards and one is an actual psychopath. The Civilized Zone actually sends one of the Doktor’s surviving mutants. A man named Grizzly is a hybrid of a grizzly bear and a man. He also has a deep prejudice against humans. Blade begins to wonder what he has gotten himself into.
Well the force gets its first mission soon after. A reporter named Athena Morris for the L.A Times has recently escaped from captivity. A mutant called The Spider has a compound in the wilderness of northern California. His hatchlings have been kidnapping women from surrounding towns to impregnate and create more hatchlings for his army. Now with Athena as a guide the untested Freedom Force head out to put an end to the Spider’s reign of terror.
So the question is does the world need another book series starring Blade? Of course it does. You can never have enough Blade. So what makes this different from the Endworld series? Well its set in California so there will be plenty of missions on the west coast. The force is composed of a variety of individuals with a whole bunch of conflicting personalities making for interesting conflicts both internal and external of the group. And of course there is still plenty of opportunities to travel to exotic locations. Meet strange mutants, warlords and other various lowlifes and kill them.
So here are the role call of the characters.
Blade- the Family’s recruit and leader of the Force.
Boone- the Calvary’s recruit. A skilled gunfighter almost as good as Hickok.
Thunder- the Flathead Indian’s recruit. A skilled tracker and warrior.
Spader- the Mole’s recruit. Was volunteered by the Mole’s leader and resents being there. Is killed on the first mission against the Spider.
Kraft- the Clan’s recruit. A punk that’s quick with his switchblade. Joined because of the women he heard about in California and also wanted the action. Oh yeah he loves to kill and is somewhat of a psychopath.
Grizzly- the Civilized Zone recruit. A bear hybrid creation of the Doktor. Has strong retractable claws and probably the deadliest member of the force. Also has a deep hatred for humans.
Sgt. Havoc- California’s recruit. A professional soldier in the California Army.
Athena Morris- Becomes officially part of the force at the end. Serves as an embedded reporter for the unit.
Some recurring characters
General Miles Gallagher- California general that is liaison with the Force. Doesn’t support California’s entry into the Federation but has a grudging respect for Blade.
Governor Melnick- the Governor of the California Free State. The Force was his idea and his government is one footing the bill for the endeavor.