THE FLASHFALL SWORD is a post-apocalyptic novel set in a world after the Flash, when Earth’s magnetic field went haywire, destroying electronic equipment and sending disruptive aurora storms south. NATO remains in Mitteleuropa as the last best hope for civilization, with its republican city-states of Strasbourg, Guntergrass, Obama City, and Londonum facing down the hordes of brutal, misogynistic Shadowlanders roving what was once France, and a mysterious plague that spreads via mobile, nearly-sentient globs of pus.
Lovecraft Weir, the main protagonist, watched his father die in a sacrificial Shadowlander rite as a boy, and as an adult, serves NATO as a Ranger along with his tough, capable partner Kodie Bazkowski. The two of them are admirable heroes, easy to root for, and it’s lovely to see a solid male-female friendship that doesn’t need to be romantic at its core to be deeply meaningful to both of them. However, the book switches perspectives quite frequently, allowing the reader to see the world from a variety of different viewpoints, from the Shadowlander Alpha Mansnake to NATO’s Principal Secretary and spymaster Francis Wingham (a name that might amuse students of Elizabethan England) to the Widow Witches who protect the world from ancient dangers. Spies and scientists, escorts and priests, fighters and schemers, fill the pages of this book, all of them with their own agendas, personalities, and viewpoints.
There is some explication in this book – there needs to be, given the differences between their world and ours – but it’s generally handled subtly and well, leaving the reader feeling immersed in the book’s environment rather than looking on from the outside as it is explained to us. And the worldbuilding doesn’t stop there – just as we feel we have pieced together the cultures of this new world and how they interact, and are comfortable with them, a few deft plot twists give us a whole new point of view on what we’ve been seeing. The plot is lively and full of action, keeping the reader engaged and entertained, but even the quiet parts of the book are never dull. Author W.G. Hladky does have an occasional tendency to explain, rather than show, what characters are thinking or feeling, especially when it comes to romantic relationships, but that’s not too intrusive. All in all, it’s an intriguing story set in a well-thought-out background, with compelling characters and a lively plot, and fans of post-apocalyptic science fiction will find it well worth a read.
THE FLASHFALL SWORD is an action-packed post-apocalyptic tale featuring creative worldbuilding, a cast of well-developed characters, and clever plot twists.
~Catherine Langrehr for IndieReader