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Posted July 19, 2012
The rebuilding of society after a catastrophic collapse is a theme used so frequently it is almost a sub-genre. Having published one such myself, this book took on special interest. Such plots invariably have a struggle by the individual for something, but the something tends to reflect something seen as important by the author. In “The Reformation”, the recovery has advanced to the point where America is ruled by a Constitutional Government, which maintains a ruthless rule over its citizens in certain cities, the main one of which is America Prime. Some citizens have defected, essentially an act of treason, and have formed a Network in the outlands, land that has been neglected by the Constitutional Government because it was considered "unusable". The laws in America Prime are repressive, especially towards religion, and tend to be enforced with death as the main punishment, often delivered on the spot by enforcement officers. Life in the outlands is basic.
The book opens with Bridget, the daughter of a Governor, attempting to smuggle religious icons for safe keeping in a desert hideaway, and she is being pursued by a single-minded enforcement officer. We then find that President Schumann is to be euthanized, to be replaced by Edwin Rowlands, a dictatorial person with a passion for utopia, at least his version of it. The book then follows the maneuvers of Rowlands as he sets about to take over the outlands, the way the outlands respond, how some seek religious freedom, and the political chicanery of people in various camps, sometimes in more than one camp. It seems civilization is headed for civil war, particularly after Rowlands' wife, Michael, defects. The political tensions and chicanery grow, then comes an ending that most readers will not foresee. The ending is told and it is not entirely convincing, which suggests that what is told is not exactly true. This is not entirely surprising as this book is entitled Book 1, and these uncertainties suggest where a sequel will start. Nevertheless, it is not an obvious starting point for a sequel, so this is not a routine book. The author shows clear imagination, and it is definitely an interesting read.