Nuclear war destroyed the OldWorld. But that was just the beginning. During humanity’s darkest hour, an ancient alien race struck, waging a two-year war with Earth’s survivors. Having lost, humankind scattered, waiting for the day to reclaim their planet.
Reho, a young, survival-hardened man wandering the Blastlands of Usona, searches for redemption as he teams up with a motley merchant crew on their way to deliver OldWorld GPS devices to New Afrika. Haunted by his past, Reho must discover the truth about his own origins while thrown headfirst into a war that will not only alter his future, but the future of all humankind.
Note: I was provided a copy of this book for review
Having not read the prelude Red Denver, I knew nothing about Reho or about this world. It did not matter though, the story is intriguing and as you read you slowly understand what this world is like and the history of its people and past events. Denham writes in a way that gradually pulls you into the story, slowly bringing you into the world that has been created and the characters that fill it. I found it hard to stop reading once I started; wanting to know what was going to happen and wanting to find answers to the numerous mysteries that had been raised.
Information is given out as needed, mixing it together fluidly within the narrative and character thoughts freeing us from long information paragraphs making it seem very natural. The added bonus of this is also you get information and explanation at appropriate times and relevant to current scenes. You pick up on hints and clues, using references and descriptions to piece things together, but you are also given intentional history as well. This makes the narrative even better because while the story grabs you early on and sparks your interest, having a seamless story as well while still giving readers all the information they need is wonderful.
As a character Reho is quite likeable. He is young but tough, having survived on his own for years and often having to fight his way out of situations. In a post invasion, war-like world it is every man for himself, especially in the Blastlands. Reho has become hard and tired, but when he tries to return to his home it isn’t like it was before he left. With no real idea about where he is going, he teams up with a merchant crew, helping them deliver goods to New Afrika.
Through the book Reho’s nature softens a little, not a lot, but enough, no doubt from his engagement with other people that isn’t fighting, working with others, and finding pretty women to talk to. Reho is highlighted early on for being different, but for reasons neither he nor the reader fully understands yet. But through his travels and the experiences Reho has, along with the numerous people he meets and joins forces with, it soon becomes clear just who Reho is and what his role is in the ongoing war to take back what the alien invasion has taken from humankind.
There are great, unexpected things in this story, not even huge twists exactly, but you never know what is going to happen and it makes the story exciting because anything could be in the next chapter and characters can say and do anything. Plans change, things are revealed, and what you thought you knew you no longer are sure of. The post invasion world Denham has created is fascinating with each settlement so different from one another and it shows how adaptable humans can be, but also how different people react to things and how they cope.
Along with helping the others, Reho has a mystery of his own to solve, and new ones come up the more he is exposed to other places. Denham always seems to give you something to look forward to, whether it is a new city, or finding out whether someone survives an attack, but also in the long run you look forward to finding out about the big picture, and what answers it will bring. There is a great feeling of suspense and anticipation as well that drives you towards the ending, with no way of knowing what is to come and it leaves you wanting more after the last page. This is a story that offers hope to its characters and the reader, but not without consequence, and it shows you that war is war and there are going to be casualties and costs.
If you don’t read the prelude, Reho is still a great introduction to the Hegemon Wars series. There is a fulfilling understanding and establishment of the history and the world, with character that are all unique, complicated, and mysterious as well as a conclusion that leaves you satisfied but eager for more. From what Denham has given us so far this series could go anywhere and I look forward to finding out where that is.