“ Genre: Sci-Fi / Fantasy / Author: James Axler / Edition: First Edition / Mass Market Paperback / 352 Pages / Book is published 2001-08 by Gold Eagle „
Set almost exactly one hundred years after Deathlands, Outlanders is another epic series (originally created by comic author, Mark Ellis) that is written under the pseudonym umbrella of James Axler using a number of ghost writers. Much has changed since the days of Ryan Cawdor and his band of mercenaries and yet in many ways, things are exactly the same!
Now though, many of the Villes and settlements first encountered in Deathlands have began to work together and their Barons have united to create a New World Order. Using Military stock-piles long thought lost, these Barons are working to a common goal, under the influence of Extra-terrestial beings who long have had a vested interest in the future of the human race. Kane is a former Law-Enforcement Officer for one of these Barons, known as Magistrates, who discovers the truth that humanity is being manipulated only to find himself being manipulated in turn by Lakesh, a White-Coat who hides out in a long-forgotten Redoubt attempting to thwart the plans and intentions of the Barons and their alien masters. Lakesh has gathered together a team of rebels whom he can use for his own means and Kane is just one of several such additions who, throughout this series, finds himself working against instead of alongside his former Masters.
Sargasso Plunder is the eighteenth book in the series and the first to be written by someone other than Ellis. Largely slammed by Outlanders fans, the book reads very much like one of the more average, newer Deathlands novel with many of the subtle nuances and influences that have drawn audiences to this series largely being abandoned. The central premise surrounds a mysterious Trader who has begun dealing in long-lost pieces of Tech arousing Lakesh's interest from his hidden Cerebus Redoubt. But others too are interested in locating Trader Falzone's stash of Twentieth Century loot and the result is a turf-war as all the relevent parties compete to discover his secret first!
Many fans have claimed that you can either follow Deathlands or Outlanders but that very few can enjoy both alongside each other. For my first experience of Outlanders, I mostly quite enjoyed this book and thought it was alright! I like the subtle references to Deathlands with plentiful mentions of the Redoubts, Gateways and referral to locations that will be instantly familiar to Deathlands readers such as The Darks where everything all originally kicked off. I did feel as though it lost its momentum towards the final chapters but there was enough here to make me want to read more, especially as the whole Extra-terrestial angle, which worries me a little I am honest, was played down in this paticular adventure!
Kane is no Ryan Cawdor though many of the other characters present here do seem to suffer from overly heavy influence from the Deathlands series. An albino female named Domi, for example, triggers many memories of Jak from DL though this may be just in this novel as many have said that this book is not as well-written as many of the others and far from a good example of what the series as a whole has to offer! Speaking from someone whose only experience of the series is this novel, for me it reads like one of the more bog-standard Deathlands novels meaning it is okay but nothing special and if this is one of the worst of the books to read then I am quite pleased that I have much more to expect and look forward to!
Am I going to enjoy this series as much as Deathlands? I doubt it but I do think this series is worth further perusal and has real potential. The idea of setting it in a very familiar world one hundred years later intrigues me greatly and I look forward to discovering more references to DL in later books and seeing how the world of The Deathlands has changed...and not nessecarily for the better!