First published back in March of 1987, the third instalment into the now epic Deathlands series, titled ‘Neutron Solstice’, was once again penned by Laurence James under the house name of James Axler.

DLS Synopsis:
Ryan Cawdor, together with his troop of post-apocalyptic travellers (J.B. Dix, Hennings, Finnegan, Doctor Theophilus Tanner, Krysty Wroth and Lori Quint) once again awake to a new unknown destination, courtesy of the Mat-Trans transportation system.

The air is hot and humid, the landscape a treacherous swampland.  For in Louisiana, what was once the Mississippi basin is now a hostile and mutant ridden corner of this ravaged world.  But the Atchafalaya Swamp is home to more than just grotesquely giant mutant wildlife.  After the neutron bombs wiped out the vast majority of life from the area, living within the almost perfectly intact buildings, are the surviving tribes. 

There are the savage Cajuns who exist in the swamplands; welcoming but wary of newcomers.  Within the barren cityscapes, the giant Baron Tourment, whose brutal and oppressive rule lords over the vast majority of Lowellton.  His army is well equipped and ruthless, guided by the equally sadistic sec boss Mephisto.  Their ranks swelled further still with the mysterious walking dead; brought back to life via Tourment’s voodoo temple.  Killing these undead warriors is no simple feat.

Standing defiant against Tourment and his hostile army is a small mob of rebels.  Led by fourteen-year-old albino Jak Lauren (aka the White Wolf), the band have ideas of setting up an independent and self-sufficient future for themselves.  A future held back by the shadow of the murderous Baron Tourment.

When one of Cawdor’s ranks is shot dead by one of Tourment’s men, the fight becomes personal.  But not even Ryan can predict how desperate their situation is about to become.  For Tourment is ruthless, savage and willing to take whatever he wants.  Together with the White Wolf’s men, Cawdor is about to fight for more than just justice.  The price to pay for failure is already too great...

DLS Review:
Author Laurence James bursts into the high-energy action within the very first pages, efficiently setting down the landscape od the group
s new location and then thrusting Cawdor’s troop into the absolute thick of it.  From giant alligators to near-unstoppable zombies, the tale quickly rustles up a whole host of exciting hostiles to come out of the new backdrop of the humid ‘Deep South’. 

Packed with edge-of-the-seat action, the tale crams in a remarkably involved plot for this fast-paced storyline to career through.  As the plot moves relentlessly forward, so critical twists begin to emerge and take a strong precedence over the overall flow of the tale.

The secondary characters of the series are given the perfect opportunity to become further fleshed-out, in particular with more intriguing insights into the mysterious past of Doc Tanner brought to the surface.  Indeed, what is perhaps even more fascinating is the addition of an elaborate back-story for Cawdor himself, which urgently calls for further plot-twists to sprout off from this newly built in sub-story (which is later continued in Deathlands 5: Homeward Bound (1987)). 

For the unrelenting action and the sheer volume of threats injected into the tale, this is certainly one of the finest examples of how much of an excellent read the Deathlands books can be.  The pace thunders along like an out-of-control War Wag; careening to and fro from one tense scene to the next.

This is certainly one not to be missed.  And its a solid and utterly exciting building block for the series to continue to build upon. 

The novel runs for a total of 252 pages.

© DLS Reviews

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