Cloud Warrior (The Amtrak Wars Book 1) by Patrick Tilley

I’ve been reading a bit of science fiction and science fantasy lately.  I used to read a lot of these types of fiction last century, but had gradually drifted away.  A friend gave me this six book series: she was clearing out her home after the death of her husband and gave me all of his books.  There are quite a few treasures in that collection, but for now I’m enjoying The Amtrak Wars.

Cloud Warrior by Patrick Tilley

‘Ten centuries ago the Old Time ended when Earth’s cities melted in the War of a Thousand Suns.’

‘Cloud Warrior’ is the first of a six book series set in a post-apocalyptic USA.  The nuclear apocalypse happened a thousand years earlier.  There seem to be at least two different societies occupying the USA.  One society is technologically advanced and lives underground.  The other lives above ground (the overground) and is considered by the underground society to be mutated, savage and stupid.

Our view of this world is through the eyes of Steve Brickman, a pilot (cloud warrior) from the underground society.  The underground society wants to take over control of the overground at some time in the future, and in the interim hunts and kills the overground dwellers (whom they call mutes).

Both societies have their own versions of history: each sees the other to blame for the War of a Thousand Suns.  But are the mutes as stupid as the underground society thinks?  There are rumours of mute magic, but the officially the underground society do not accept this.  And yet …

Steve Brickman graduates near the top of his class, and is assigned to a land train to hunt mutes.  But, when Steve crashes in mute territory he finds that there is far more to the mute society than he’s been taught.  He’s kept alive by the mutes because of a prophecy and finds himself questioning some of what he’s been told.

I was given this series by a friend who was moving home and clearing out some books.   Which is lucky, because I can read them in order without having to search for them.  I’m half way through the third book, and enjoying them.  While aspects of the world Mr Tilley has created are easy to grasp, there are nuances it took me a while to appreciate.  Steve Brickman is impulsive at times and not always easy to like.  A number of the mute characters (especially Mr Snow and Clearwater) have engaged me completely.

If you’ve not read this series and enjoy post-apocalyptic fiction, then this may be a series for you as well.  Fortunately, if the paperbacks are too hard to find there is now a Kindle edition.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith