When original author Lawerence James died, Gold Eagle took the decision to carry on publishing the Deathlands adventures using a series of new writers who would continue to write under the House Name of James Axler. Lawerence James, who wrote the first thirty-two books in this cycle, pretty much set the benchmark for the standard of writing that Deathlands fans had come to expect but, every now and again with these new authors, a real stinker appears to slip through the net.
Salvation Road, ghost-written by Andy Boot, is the first of the new generation of Deathlands books that I have picked up and certainly does not bode well for the other later novels in this cycle. It is, I believe, number fifty-eight in the series that will see its hundredeth installment published in just a few months, and the third such story that Boot has contributed.....
This book starts with a paticulary bad jump across the Matt-Trans Gateways that Ryan Cawdor and his companions use to travel the Deathlands. Doc is plagued by horrible nightmares that combine images from his past, both recent and not so, and all the others awake feeling fairly rough too. Given the choice of returning to the Gateway and making another jump or crossing a vast desert in search of civilisation, the group bizarrely choose the desert. Many hours later, they have begun to regret their decision as the heat and the intense surroundings begin to take their toil.....when thankfully they stumble across a small Wag stop and, more importantly, people. The people in question are part of a workforce working for a local Baron who has managed to strike oil and is looking to protect his monopoly from terrorism and uprising. But as Ryan and his pals take on a job to help find the culprits who are trying to sabotage operations, they soon realise that things are much more complicated than they first appear and that the Baron is being less than entirely truthful......
This installment has been largely criticised by Deathlands fans and rightly so! It is true that it could be set in any timeline, not just nessecarily that of the Deathlands, and the familiar characters whom we dedicated fans have followed through endless similar stories are treated here with very little respect. The writing is readable at best but not exactly thrilling and the whole thing just feels like a complete and total let-down! Even the ending comes as a flat "so what?" with no proper satisfying conclusion. Unless you are a real and proper die-hard fan, like myself, and totally dedicated to the series then this is definitely best avoided!! I endured it only because I am such a big fan and even I found it a struggle!
I wish I could give this a better review but it really is a disappointment and you have no idea how much it pains me to say that! This has to be a contender for worst Deathlands novel ever and quite honestly I only hope that the others in the series written by this author (thankfully only a few) are a bit better than this lacklustre performance. Maybe he should stick to one of Gold Eagle's other franchises such as The Executioner which he also has written for or maybe the reason he now writes for Deathlands is because his efforts for that series were so badly recieved!!
Whatever, Deathlands fans deserve better than this!
Book Series: Deathlands