Book Review – Cloud Warrior (AMTRAK WARS) by Patrick Tilley

My first book review (of another’s work). Not wanting it to be wasted on whatever book I happen to be reading at the moment, I have decided to review Cloud Warrior, book 1 of the AMTRAK Wars. I read this (quickly followed by the rest of the series) when I was about 12 years old. I was already an avid reader and had a great and growing appreciation for fiction. I’d read fantasy (such as the original Shannara trilogy  by T. Brooks), I’d read Sci-Fi, (such as the dorsai books by Gordon Dickson, and several Asimov books).

This book (or these books, as a series) changed my idea of what fiction was, or could be. Fiction could be anything. It isn’t restricted to any genre, it is limited only by imagination, and therefore unlimited.

Cloud Warrior is the first book (written before I was born) in a six-book-epic describing a sci-fi, post-apocalyptic, dystopian, magical, fantasy world. It sees a technologically advanced (modern technology level) oppressive regime that is the remnant of western society that survived a nuclear war (in underground bunkers) attempting to wipe out or subjugate the surface dwelling mutants (Mutes), who live like native American lifestyle (of 400 years ago), but are supplied weapons (cross-bows) by a third civilization, the Iron masters (a samurai based civilization on the cusp of an industrial revolution). But to add into the mix, a minority of the mutes have the power of magic, which may just even the odds against the bullets and bombs of the AMTRAK federation.

There are 5 main characters in this book. Steve and Roz are siblings raised in the federation, raised with the sole aim of helping wipe out the mutes. Cadillac and Clearwater are two mutes, gifted with magic, being taught by their mentor (and the fifth major character) Mr. Snow.

With lives shaped and bound together by the Talisman prophesy, they struggle to survive through the genocide that they are supposed to be waging against each other, with loyalties constantly questioned and tested. Never before or since have I felt so personally invested in a set of characters. Perhaps some of that is nostalgia, but this is easily the series of books that I have read and re-read the most. With the mutes names referring to popular culture (of the eighties), some references might be a bit dated, but this story feels very fresh.

5 STARS

 *  *  *  *  *

If you liked the story in the film Avatar, I think you should give this cult classic a try.

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