THE OUTRIDER #5 BUILT TO KILL BY RICHARD HARDING

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Leather the leader of the Slavestates is in one of his foul moods. He’s lost a lot of supply convoys to the raiders in Chicago. When Leather is in a foul mood he usually kills some of his flunkies. The flunky a tax general that had the misfortune to delivery the bad news thinks fast. He suggests that Chicago should be eliminated.

This gets Leather to thinking of grand dreams of conquest and an eventual alliance is formed with the other two feudal states to wipe out Chicago. Leather kidnaps Lucky the best mechanic in Chicago to build him three fearsome war machines.

Bonner learns of Leather’s plans and rallies the free citizens of Chicago for a final confrontation with the forces of evil. Thanks to Lucky’s betrayal and self-sacrifice the war machines are destroyed and the alliance doomed. Bonner chases Leather and shoots him in the head. It ends with him picking up his girl and riding off into the sunset.

The final book in the Outrider series. There was a notice at the end for the next in the series called Black Death. Unfortunately Pinnacle books went bankrupt and Black Death was never released. I always wondered about that book. I found recently on an Amazon review that some enterprising man actually tracked down the author and asked. The sixth book was never written. I always will wonder where Black Death would have taken the saga. If the author by some whim comes across this please send me a short message on the plot.

Otherwise I am content to imagine an ending. The series ended with closure. Leather and the other thugs that ruled the continent got their just rewards. I like to think Bonner took his girl and went off to find the inhabitants of Almost Normal from book three. Settled down and raised a family. Good ending.

Final thoughts on this series. Obviously this was never going to go down in history with Shakespeare, Hemingway and Twain. It was a series that was commissioned to take advantage of the post-apocalypse craze of the 80’s. The author was hired to crank out books and did his job well. The characters are over the top and the plots are improbable at best.

Still I really like it. As a young teenage boy in Nevada it gave me hours of escapist joy. I devoured book series like this and if you stick with this blog you’ll learn about many more. Rereading these books brought me back to those carefree days. I think that’s all you can ever ask from any book. That it entertains and gives pleasant memories.

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THE OUTRIDER #4 BAY CITY BURNOUT BY RICHARD HARDING

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Dorca’s the bar and main hangout for the raiders and smugglers of Chicago gets a visitor. A smarmy guy named Roy is in town to hire fighters for the Rich Man. The Rich Man is the ruler of what was once northern California. The Rich Man as his name implies is very rich but short on manpower. It seems Carey the Prince of the Snowstates aka Carey the Kook has decided to invade the Rich Man’s land.

Roy offers generous payment to join and has a special interest in recruiting Bonner. Bonner wants no part of it but shows an interest in a lighter that Roy carries. It belongs to his good friend Seth and Bonner decides to pay a visit to the Rich Man alone.

Roy doesn’t take kindly to the rejection and goes to Bonner’s home. Bonner isn’t there but finds his girl that he and his goons rape and beat severely. Naturally Bonner doesn’t take kindly to this and with the Mean Brothers takes off after Roy. Joining forces along the way with Clara and her biker gang an a fundamentalist raider group known as Bullets for Jesus, Bonner pursues Roy across the continent. At the ruins of San Francisco a bloody confrontation occurs for revenge and to save his buddy Seth.

The fourth book in the series is a great change of pace. We get to see the western part of the country. The Snowstates are explored and new villains are introduced. Also new allies. I just love the name Bullets for Jesus. At the end we get a sense of Bonner’s exhaustion with all the violence in his life and a desire for something better in his life. A desire that comes to an exciting conclusion in the next and last book of this series.

THE OUTRIDER #3 BLOOD HIGHWAY BY RICHARD HARDING

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Bonner and the Mean Brothers are down in the Hotstates and ambush a patrol of Devils. The Devils are the soldiers of Berger who runs the Hotstates. Bonner finds a child’s rifle from a kid he knew from Almost Normal. Now Almost Normal is a small town hidden away in the Appalachian mountains. Its inhabitants are hard-working men and women trying to raise families in this harsh post-apocalypse world. Bonner is a friend of the people of Almost Normal

When he arrives he finds the town burnt to the ground and its citizens taken. He tracks them to the plantation of Farkas. Farkas is the main slaver in the Hotstates and needed slaves for an order from Leather. Leather sent his right hand man Jojo and a contingent of Radleps to collect the slaves.

Bonner convinces a raider gang of midgets and dwarfs called The Lash of the Little People to his cause. Thus Bonner, the Mean Brothers and the Lash assault Farkas compound and free the citizens of Almost Normal from slavery.

The third series in the series is a great change of pace. We get to see a new part of the country. Bonner is shown as man of principal and justice in a world that lacks both. It’s another great book in this exciting road warrior type series.

THE OUTRIDER #2 FIRE AND ICE BY RICHARD HARDING

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Winter is coming to post-holocaust America. The inhabitants are settling in for a brutal winter. Bonner’s friends Seth and Starling come to him with a plan. They believe they know where the large stash of gas that Cooker claims to have found is located. Cooker was a gas hound that died in the first book. They convince Bonner to travel in the dead of winter looking for this stash.

So the three head out into the northeast which is the Slavestates. They hook up with a band of French Canadian raiders called Les Habitants and find themselves is a middle of an invasion by the neighboring Snowstates. Fighting off Snowmen and Stormers the group finds the old gas tank farm.

Unfortunately Leather the leader of the Slavestates arrives at the same time. He still holds a grudge against Bonner for chopping off his hands. A battle occurs with Bonner and his group getting away with three tankers of gas. Starling makes the supreme sacrifice in blowing up the tanks to cover their escape.

So ends the second book in the series. Another enjoyable read. Bonner loses another friend and has one more reason to pay back Leather. I remember eagerly awaiting the next book.

THE OUTRIDER BY RICHARD HARDING

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It’s a generation or so after a nuclear war. The US is now divided into three feudal states. In the middle is Chicago an open city. Its inhabitants raid the feudal states. Chicago’s meanest bad ass is Bonner. He receives word that the woman he loves is still alive and held captive by Leather. Leather is the ruler of the Slavestates the most powerful of the states that consist of the eastern seaboard.

Leather and Bonner used to be friends but now are mortal enemies. Hearing his girl is alive Bonner straps on his three knifes, jumps in his customized car and heads off to Washington the capital of the Slavestates. Along the way he picks up his best friend Starling. Cooker a gas hound obsessed with finding gasoline. Harvey a demolitions expert. Clara and her all female biker gang, and the Mean Brothers two mute twins that evolution took a side road with.

This motley collection assaults Leather’s capital and take on his Radleps. Radleps stand for Radiation Lepers and are suicidal praetorian guard of Leather. This groups succeeds in killing many of Leathers followers, blows up his gas reserves and cut off his hands. Unfortunately they aren’t in time to save Bonner’s girl and must flee to fight another day.

This was the first in the Outrider series. It’s obviously inspired by the Mad Max movies and I think its one of the best series that came out in the 80’s. It has a colorful cast of characters and a fast paced plot. I always looked forward to when the next one was going to come out. If you are looking for a road warrior type series then this should be at the top of your list.