Monday, 14 December 2015
Book Review: Fall of the Cities - Planting the Orchard
The world is falling apart.
Terrorists spark a worldwide oil and gas crisis while imports grind to a halt. Europe and Britain are erupting into chaos as food runs out and desperate people take matters into their own hands.
As the government begins to seal off rioting parts of the city, Corporal Harry Miller takes an offered discharge to get his sister and her kids to safety. But he's not fast enough. Trapped in the city with a rag-tag collection of ordinary citizens, Harry struggles to create a small pocket of stability - a place to ride out the coming confrontation between rioters and the Army, and save themselves from annihilation.
The sergeant got the squaddies all sorted out and lined up by the time the Hercules finished taxiing from the runway to wherever. By then Harry had made sure his stick was invisible inside his pack because it wasn't allowed in public. The men organized purely by their remaining gear with no reference to what unit they belonged to. Because he had a full set of kit, Harry was in the first thirty off. They started off as soon the back door lowered into a ramp even if the view didn't help.
Harry couldn't see where they were going since the ramp pointed back towards the runways. The first thing he noticed was the puff of vapour as everyone breathed out. Then the cold bit through his clothing, reminding Harry, and the rest, that it was January and they were no longer in a desert. The soldiers wheeled as instructed and came around the end of the plane, and into view of the terminus.behind the terminus.
The view of the terminus wasn't quite as expected. Harry didn't actually think there would be a cheering crowd, but nobody at all in one of the busiest airports in England was. Nobody seemed to be in any of the parked planes outside the terminal, and nobody behind the terminal windows. Not even staff or Army brass to greet them.
There was plenty of debris around the planes as they marched past and a lot of noise somewhere ahead. There weren't any footprints in the light snow.The place really was deserted, though still warm inside. The soldiers marched into the main hall and came to attention in ranks, and an officer appeared.
As soon as he spoke it was apparent from his voice that he was the one from the plane. "There has been a breakdown in law and order. Martial Law has been declared in London and the other population centres, so we are unable to take you to your barracks yet. First the streets must be cleared. There are no shields or batons available, so we will use fixed bayonets."
"You are the British Army, and I trust you to uphold the traditions of that Army. Turn in your ammunition so there are no accidental discharges, and try to minimise casualties among the civilians. We will organise cover if firearms are used against you." He left and headed back through the terminal, and the sergeants began to split everyone up into squads.
"What about bricks and stuff, Sarge?" Harry had seen riots on the TV and they always included rocks and bricks. "Without shields, we'll get beaten to death even with helmets.
"Move your packs round to the front if possible. Take some gear out to lighten them, but nothing essential. I don't know if we're coming back here though your kitbags will catch up eventually." The solution spread down the line and a very small pile grew behind them. Most of what was in the packs was essential if they weren't coming back to collect it. The pack felt weird hung in front but was probably capable of stopping a brick.
"Right, you lot. Outside those doors are the taxi ranks and access roads. We go left, to where a fairly thin line of London Bobbies is trying to stop the citizens storming the planes."
"Why do they want the planes, Sarge?" Which was a good question since there were no pilots in evidence. Though another two planes had landed.
"Since I'm a mushroom as well I wasn't told. Presumably because one of them thinks they can fly one of those bloody planes. Which they will not be allowed to do. Am I clear?" "Yes Sarge!" From most of the throats present.
"Let's get at it then, because there's another two planeloads coming through here to sort out any other little problems. Turn in your ammunition, now." Harry really started to worry. What sort of unrest needed three planeloads of squaddies with bayonets?
“Kill or be killed! If you are going to die, die fighting!” Corporal Harry Miller now lives by these words, especially after fighting in Iraq. There is a worldwide petroleum war going on causing people in London to behave sadistic as food and other commodities become scarce. After his discharge, Harry finds shelter in an abandoned community taking his widowed sister and her children, and other residents, after they come under attack from crazed rioters.
Harry is elected their leader and suddenly finds himself in a different kind of war as the fighting escalates. He delegates duties to this diverse group that are mostly defenceless against the violent mobs. They struggle to survive by taking available supplies from stores already looted and defend themselves against the gangs who constantly appear to harm them. This is difficult since the army base nearby will not allow them to retaliate with guns, so they learn to improvise and hope their efforts will not be in vain when the next mob attack occurs.
Fall of the Cities: Planting the Orchard – Book 1 is a thriller by Vance Huxley. It was hard to put down the book since it is a riveting action packed one. There are several interesting characters that the author developed very nicely, and some had their own special qualities and personal issues to make them stand out. Harry is one such character that I would not make an enemy. I like the way the refugees banded together to defend themselves, despite being scared - “United we stand, divided we fall.”
Vance Huxley created a wonderful story that was intriguing from the beginning with very entertaining sections as well as some emotional ones that made the plot even stronger. He has shown his excellent writing skills in this engaging novel. The book cover is nicely illustrated and readers will eventually learn why the title is appropriate for the story. Planting the Orchard, Book 1 from the Fall of the Cities series is highly recommended.
About the Author:
Vance Huxley lives out in the countryside in Lincolnshire, England. He has spent a busy life working in many different fields - including the building and rail industries, as a workshop manager, trouble-shooter for an engineering firm, accountancy, cafe proprietor, and graphic artist. He also spent time in other jobs, and is proud of never being dismissed, and only once made redundant.
Eventually he found his Noeline, but unfortunately she died much too young. To help with the aftermath, Vance tried writing though without any real structure. As an editor and beta readers explained the difference between words and books, he tried again.
Now he tries to type as often as possible in spite of the assistance of his cats, since his legs no longer work well enough to allow anything more strenuous. An avid reader of sci-fi, fantasy and adventure novels, his writing tends towards those genres.
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