Review: Ashes of the Earth
Take a glimpse into the future. Think about your world as it is right now. Trees, markets, stores, technological advances, medical breakthroughs and modern conveniences that everyone takes for granted and rarely gives thanks for.
Imagine in one strike of a match your world goes up in flames and the end result is a total global holocaust. What is left is smoke, ash, soot, burned buildings, pieces of glass and human beings so deformed so ill they can barely survive. Humans exposed to radiation and expelled and exiled not to contaminate others. Martial law reigns. Those who question are exiled or punished. Those who dare to challenge the government tortured.
Imagine a world devoid of flowers, trees, metal, medicines, books and paper to write on and the basic comforts of life. Picture the devastation shown in Japan just this month. Remember the Tsunamis in Hawaii and Korea as the world comes to an end and the result will rock your world and give the reader much pause for thought.
Hadrian Boone is the main character in this book. Often imprisoned on petty charges and beaten, tortured and abused by those in charge he manages to stay afloat using his intelligence, connections and instincts. A founder of the colony and former professor, he hopes to work to rebuild what is left of Carthage. His long time friend Jonah Beck has been secretly working on many projects including a new public works system, medications to heal the sick and a way to bring both the exiles in New Jerusalem and those in Carthage together. But, what Hadrian learns and what happens to Jonah, will shake their worlds and rock the inner core of what is left of Carthage. Becoming more than a liability to his former friend Governor Buchanan, he is often the brunt of many beatings, torturous experiences imposed on him by his one time friend.
Becoming embroiled in the intrigue and the subterfuge of Carthage, learning of the plots and deceit of those in government and in power, just might get him killed. Murders of young men made to look like suicides. His friend Jonah thought to have hanged himself but did he? Any hope of restoring life to its original state and creating a bridge to reach out to the exiles and provide them with food and medicine gone.
Taking him into the underworld of the exiles, unearthing the secrets that lie beneath the walls of a monastery, and uncovering the whereabouts of a ship thought sunk, draws Hadrian and many others into a web so tightly spun they might never survive. The contraband that Hadrian finds buried in a church is startling. A cloud of doubt that hangs over him when dealing with Sergeant Waller and her true reason for shadowing his every move and appearing to help him at times and at others lost and unable to cope. Emily, the head of the hospital faces the death and doom daily dealt to the many brought in who are murdered, maimed and in some cases left for dead. Scouts that go out and never return and people who are hanged just because they are considered expendable or not worth living at least in this world devoid of emotion, caring and anyone who wants civilization to really survive.
This book brings to light many issues that we hope we never have to face. Children forced to do the dangerous dirty work of adults, smugglings, stealing and committing other crimes to stay alive. Pranks played just for fun on the dead. The characters depicted in this novel seem totally devoid of emotions. The vivid descriptions of the deterioration of the world, the disintegration of the human bodies, their minds and spirits are so clearly written you can create you own mental image of the scenes, the characters and what is left of their world.
Sometimes the search for answers brings new questions. As Hadrian Boone reenters the world of those exiled he learns the hidden truth behind his friend’s mission and what he was really creating with those in New Jerusalem as the camp was renamed. Appearances are quite deceiving and people are not always who and what you think they are.
Jackals, young children enlisted to work for the smugglers, men who played both sides of the fence and a directory of names that would shed light on the rest. Who was behind the killings? Who would benefit the most from the smuggling and creating deadly drugs that would silence the inquisitive? A Governor who appears to want to find the answers behind the murders but does he? But, when the final showdown comes to play where will his allegiance lie and just how far will he go to get what he wants.
A plot so diabolical, convoluted and intricate no one will saw it coming nor will they see the end result until it’s too late. The granaries are full, the food supply plentiful and the government blinded by their own greed. An ending so explosive that the world as they knew it, as you know it will never be the same. Who will win? Carthage or Total Carnage?
Author: Eliot Pattison
Fran Lewis reviewer