Siege is the conclusion to Rhiannon Frater's As the World Dies trilogy, which should appeal to fans of The Walking Dead. Both The First Days and Fighting to Survive won the Dead Letter Award from Mail Order Zombie. The First Days was named one of the Best Zombie Books of the Decade by the Harrisburg Book Examiner.
The zombie illness has shattered civilization. The survivors who have found tenuous safety in Texas defend their fort against the walking dead and living bandits.
Katie has made peace with the death of her wife and is pregnant and married to Travis, who has been elected Mayor. Jenni, her stepson, Jason; and Juan—Travis's righthand man—are a happy family, though Jenni suffers from PTSD. Both women are deadly zombie killers.
In Siege, the people of Ashley Oaks are stunned to discover that the vice president of the United States is alive and commanding the remnants of the US military. What's left of the US government has plans for this group of determined survivors.
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About the Author
RHIANNON FRATER is the author of The First Days and two sequels, Fighting to Survive and Siege. She and her husband live in Austin, Texas.
Rhiannon Frater is the author of As the World Dies, which includes The First Days, Fighting to Survive, and Siege, which she originally self-published before substantially revising the books for Tor’s publication. The First Days and Fighting to Survive each won the Dead Letter Award from Mail Order Zombie. Frater has written several other horror novels. She lives in Texas.
Read an Excerpt
As The World Dies Book Three
By Rhiannon Frater
Tom Doherty AssociatesCopyright © 2012 Rhiannon Frater
All rights reserved.
1. Return of the Tiny Fingers
The tiny fingers under the door were missing. Jenni stared down at the dark crack under the front door, waiting for her toddler's tiny pink digits to appear. The gap beneath the door was far too big. She had told Lloyd that many times. It was too easy for a little hand to slip underneath.
Standing on the front porch of her home, she felt the cool morning air teasing her dark hair and ruffling her pink nightgown and robe.
"Benji?" she whispered.
The hard, steady thumping against the door was a terrifying reminder that her zombified husband, Lloyd, was just on the other side. She could barely discern the dim outline of his form through the blood-smeared, frosted glass panes set in the door.
Jenni waited, but the tiny fingers did not emerge. Slowly, she squatted until her shaking hands touched the cold cement of the front stoop.
The crack under the door, ominous in its promise, did not give birth to tiny bloody fingers.
Jenni rose swiftly to her feet. "Mikey?"
Her twelve-year-old son ran around the corner of the house, barefoot and in his pajamas, clutching his toddler brother in his arms.
"Mikey! Benji!" Jenni stumbled toward them.
"We got out the back door, Mom!"
Jenni embraced her sons, then lifted Benji onto her hip.
"Mommy! Daddy's scary!" Benji thrust one tiny thumb into his mouth.
Crying and thanking God for their survival, she pulled them away from the house.
"Mom, we gotta get away! Dad's crazy!" Mikey exclaimed.
"We'll get away! I promise. In a minute or two, Katie will be here," Jenni said, gripping his hand with all her strength.
"Katie's coming to save us." Jenni glanced warily at the house. Lloyd was now banging on the window next to the front door. "She'll be here soon."
Scowling, she tried not to think too hard about what had happened before. ...
"Mom, where is Katie?"
Jenni cried out when the window shattered beneath Lloyd's fists.
In his fear, Mikey was crushing her hand. Benji sobbed loudly, his wet face against her neck, his tiny fingers gripping the collar of her nightgown.
"She should be here!" Jenni ran into the street, feeling the cold asphalt under her bare feet. The road was empty. Jenni whirled around, her dark eyes searching desperately for the white truck that should be their salvation.
"Mom! Mom!" Mikey's voice was high and terrified. He was pointing at Lloyd, who had crashed to the ground outside the house and was struggling to get up.
"Katie, where are you?" Jenni yelled.
Lloyd staggered to his feet. With an unholy screech, he began to race toward his wife and sons.
Jenni screamed and ran. Benji was a heavy weight in her arms and Mikey clung to the edge of her robe as they fled. Bare feet slapping hard against the pavement, Jenni ran for her life and the lives of her children. She could hear Lloyd gaining on them, his footfalls close behind her.
"Mommy! Mommy!" Benji sobbed while his warm urine soaked her robe as his fear unleashed his bladder.
"Katie! Hurry! Katie!" Jenni cried out.
The doors of her neighbors' houses flew open. Bloody mutilated figures raced in Jenni's direction, screeching, hands and teeth seeking human flesh.
"Mommy! Mommy!" Mikey and Benji chorused in terror.
The street filled with the hungry undead. Their horrible blood-stained teeth gnashed with hunger.
"Katie! Katie!" Jenni sobbed. "Katie, please come!"
The undead closed in around Jenni and her family.
2. Hitchhikers of the Living Dead
Jenni woke with a start, banging her head against the passenger-side window of the truck. "Ouch! Dammit!"
As she forced the nightmare from her waking mind, she looked up — and gasped. The badly mauled face of a zombie was pressed into the window, its tongue licking eagerly against the fogged glass, where her head had rested a few seconds before.
"Fuck," she groaned. She was groggy from sleep and fumbled for her weapon. Out of the corner of her eye, she caught a glimpse of Katarina's blue wool coat as the woman moved around the parked truck, her pistol in her hand.
"I got him, Jenni," she called out. The zombie, hearing Katarina's voice, ambled away from the window and howled. The homely redhead aimed and fired. The zombie's head burst, its body collapsing onto the road.
"Thanks!" Jenni said, rubbing her eyes. She had fallen asleep on the way back from a successful scavenging run with a large convoy from the fort. There had been no loss of life and they were returning with a lot of supplies.
Katarina climbed back into the truck's cab, slammed the door, shutting out the freezing wind, and sighed. "I don't know why Felix couldn't wait to pee until we were back at the fort, away from the zombies."
"Couldn't hold it, huh?"
"No. He said he was going to explode. I told him to hang it out the window. He laughed." Katarina frowned. "I was serious."
"I'm sure Ed loved bringing the convoy to a halt so Felix could pee." Jenni glanced through the blood-splattered window at the side mirror and saw Felix's reflection. He was just finishing. Another zombie lay dead not too far from him.
"He better finish the hell up so we can get home." Katarina rubbed her hands over the steering wheel, her knuckles bright red from the cold weather. "I want some nice hot coffee."
"I just want a nice warm bed with a nice warm Juan in it."
Katarina's deep blush, which almost matched her red hair, made Jenni giggle.
Texas winters were always unpredictable. Snow had fallen three times since Christmas. Barely a week into January, Jenni was already sick of the new year. It was so damn cold.
Felix wrenched open the back door and slid in. "I urinated on my shoes! Can't a man relieve himself without those damn things showing up?"
Jenni slid around in her seat and grinned at him. "Should have held it, huh?"
"When a man has to go, he has to go!" Felix folded his arms across his muscled chest and glared. He wore several layers of clothing under his usual tracksuit, and his black skin looked beautiful against the whiteness of the fabric. Felix dressed like a gangster, but spoke with a sophisticated air most of the time. He was the adopted son of rich white parents from Houston and would have graduated with a master's in literature if not for the zombie apocalypse. Jenni liked him a lot and they enjoyed teasing each other.
Despite her joking, Jenni could not get the final image of her nightmare out of her head. It had been so vivid. Her children had seemed so real. But Jenni knew that the boys never made it out of the house. Lloyd had killed them. And if Katie had not arrived when she did, Jenni would have perished as well.
Katarina lifted her walkie-talkie off the console and reported in. "Ed, he's done. We're moving back into position."
Jenni laid her head against the backrest and stared at Katarina as she drove the truck back onto the country road to continue the journey home. The rest of the caravan was waiting ahead. As their truck drew near, those vehicles slowly accelerated. Soon the convoy was speeding toward the fort.
"My trainers are ruined." Felix pulled a book from his backpack. "It will be difficult to find good replacements."
"You could try to clean them," Katarina suggested.
"I scrape zombie guts off my boots all the time," Jenni added.
Felix just grumbled something that they couldn't make out and began to read the words of Socrates.
"Boys are so moody," Jenni decided.
"And they say we are," Katarina scoffed.
Jenni felt odd riding shotgun with Katarina instead of Katie. Jenni suspected Travis, Katie's husband, had something to do with Katie's not being assigned to any of the scavenging or search-and-rescue groups lately. The announcement of Katie's pregnancy had been a shock to everyone. Some of the survivors were happy to welcome a new life into their barren world, but others felt a pregnancy was irresponsible under the circumstances. Negative comments were never made around Katie or Travis, the first couple daring to bring a child into the undead world.
Jenni's own feelings about the baby were mixed. On one hand, she was happy for her friend and ready to be an aunt, but on the other, she feared it was unwise to bring a new life into a world full of the hungry dead. How could she have raised her boys in this undead world? Her stepson, Jason, was almost an adult, but Mikey and Benji would have lost whatever remained of their childhood innocence. The children of the fort bore deep emotional scars from the horrors they had witnessed.
Tears burned in her eyes as she realized she would rather her boys were with her than dead. Juan would have been a good father, and they would have worked hard to give the boys a good life. Instead, her little ones were part of the undead hordes.
"Something is going on," Katarina said, pulling Jenni away from her dark thoughts.
The caravan was slowing down.
"We got problems ahead," Ed's voice crackled over the CB.
Jenni snatched up the mouthpiece. "What's up?"
"Bunch of zombies have a van surrounded. Looks like people are on top of it. Whole way is blocked." Ed sounded peeved.
"We have to save them!" Curtis's voice cut through the static. Jenni could imagine the grim expression on the young policeman's face.
"Got any ideas on how to handle it?" Ed answered.
"Pull up," Jenni said to Katarina.
With a nod, Katarina shifted gears and moved their truck to the front of the convoy, idling it next to Ed's school bus. Jenni scowled as the scene below came into view.
The undead were busily consuming someone near the side of the road. The van's side door was open and zombies were crowding to get inside. On top of the van, a group of people was huddled near an open sunroof.
Ed, the driver of the bus, leaned out his window. Beneath his battered hat, his sun-wrinkled face looked pissed. Jenni pushed the button for her window and it slid down. "What do you think, Ed?"
"Got at least three dozen trying to get to those folks. I figure we can drive close enough to try to get them to come for us, then flatten them."
"They've got fresh food in front of them," Jenni reminded him. "They're not going to come after us. What if we thin out the outer edge with the guns, then clear the rest with machetes, spears, and my trusty ax?"
Curtis walked up between their vehicles, his weapon in hand. The slim young man with the golden blond hair and blue eyes was bundled into a thick leather jacket with a wool scarf wrapped around his neck, nearly obscuring his mouth. "We need to hurry, whatever the hell we're doing. It's getting bad down there."
The van was rocking under the onslaught of the undead. Someone on top of the van spotted the convoy and dared to stand and wave to get their attention. Jenni gasped as he tumbled off. His screams tore through the cold air, then broke off abruptly. Zombies moaned with delight as they swarmed him.
"We gotta move now!" Jenni shoved her door open, nearly hitting Curtis. Yanking her ax out of the truck, she gestured for Felix and Katarina to follow. Shoving the ax into the specially made sheath on her back, she banged the door shut with her hip. Determined to bust some zombie heads, she headed down the hill.
"We don't have a plan, Jenni!" Ed shouted after her.
Jenni stalked toward the undead swarm. "Kill the fuckers! That's the plan!"
3. Sentries of the Dead
The zombie slammed its mangled hand against the fort wall again, growling.
Katie observed it from her sentry post, her blond curls flowing in the wind. Rubbing her cold-reddened hands together, she studied the creature's distorted features. Most of its flesh had torn off. One eyeball rolled up toward her in a gouged socket. How it could see her, she could not imagine. It had no lips, so its bloodied, decaying teeth looked hideously large as they chomped together hungrily.
"I can't even tell if you're a boy or a girl," Katie muttered, then blew on her fingers to warm them.
Stacey peered over the edge of the wall. The slim young woman leaned her elbows on the cement bricks and stared at the zombie. "I think it's a boy."
"That patch of hair on the back of its head is kinda long," Katie pointed out.
"Yeah, but lots of redneck boys have long hair. There were a lot of guys back in my old town with ponytails longer than mine." Stacey tugged on her short braid. When she and her boyfriend were first rescued, she had been terribly thin, her shoulder blades and collarbones sticking out of her tanned skin at sharp angles. Now she was fit and muscular.
Katie tilted her head as she studied the creature. "I think it's a girl. Still ugly as sin."
"Uglier. Guess we should put it down."
"Yep," Katie agreed.
She reached for the huge crossbow rigged on a sliding track that ran along the wall. It was one of Jason's creations, and it made killing the close-in zombies a lot easier. Mirrors attached to the contraption helped Katie see her target.
"I'm not saying I miss the big crowds of them, but lone zombies just seem so sad," Stacey said.
"Until they try to eat you."
"Well, there is that." Stacey watched Katie carefully use a lever to adjust her aim. "Jason is like a genius, huh?"
"Jenni says that he's always tinkered with stuff. Once he took apart his Xbox and put it back together and it still worked. I don't think she's surprised at some of the things he's come up with lately, but I'm pretty impressed." Katie checked her mirrors and saw that she had the zombie perfectly lined up. She squeezed the trigger.
The bolt punctured the top of the zombie's head and it fell, limbs askew.
"Penis! I see a penis! It's a boy!"
"That is so disgusting!" Katie made a comical face.
Stacey giggled. "It flopped out!"
"It's not funny! It's a poor dead guy." Despite herself, Katie was laughing. "My God, the gallows humor around here is thick."
"Freud would have had a blast studying us," Stacey agreed.
"Oh, well. Either we're a little crazy and laugh at the absurdities of life or we just give in to despair and die." Katie reset the crossbow, showing Stacey each step.
"I've done despair. It doesn't help anything." Stacey fell silent, obviously pondering a thought. "The fort hasn't really had anyone go nuts and commit suicide or anything, has it?"
"Well, in the first days, a city councilman tried to save his zombie family and ended up eaten. And the Vigilante pitches people over the wall." Katie slipped her hands into her jacket. Her swelling belly was straining the zipper.
"Who do you think the Vigilante is?" Stacey pulled the collar of her coat closer to her face and huddled down into it.
Katie bit her bottom lip, then shrugged. "No clue. I'm sure everyone has a theory."
"I think it's Nerit," Stacey confided.
"She wasn't here when the first guy was thrown over the wall."
"The meth dealer?"
"Yeah. Ritchie." Katie vividly remembered the young man's disfigured body staring up at her, duct tape still over his mouth.
"Well, there goes my theory. You know, a few people think the Vigilante is doing the right thing."
"I had no love for Phil or Shane, but what the Vigilante did to them was inhumane. Stranding them with gimped weapons in the middle of the zombie deadlands."
"They deserved it." Now Stacey shrugged. "I'm not gonna cry over them."
"What if the Vigilante gets mad at you, or Eric, or someone you care about? The Vigilante killed Jimmy because he panicked when we took the hotel. We all have our moments. We're human. And zombies are so fucking terrifying — sometimes even the bravest feel afraid."
Stacey's brow furrowed. "When you put it that way ..."
Katie pulled her cap down on her head, trying to keep the whistling wind away from her numb ears. "Life is hard enough without having to worry about someone's skewed sense of justice getting you or your friends killed."
"I just want to feel safe." Stacey's gaze was on the zombie below. "But I never really do."
They smelled Otis Calhoun before they saw him. The scrawny old man shoved them roughly aside and peered down into the road.
"Hey, Calhoun, watch it! Katie's pregnant, you know!"
Excerpted from Siege by Rhiannon Frater. Copyright © 2012 Rhiannon Frater. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
OMG! This was just friggin unbelievably epic!! I don't think anything I say could possibly even come close to how I feel about this book and series!! I will try to keep this review as coherent as possible and spoiler free of course!! I thought that the first two books were intense and emotional, but they have nothing on this one!! Of course it is the awesome writing and story telling in those that lead you to love the characters so much which in turn makes this book such an emotional ride!! I think this may be my new favorite series ever! Intense is a complete understatement. Emotional doesn't begin to touch on how this book affected me. I don't think I have ever read a book that I actually have had to stop and regroup because I was that emotionally broken. I am getting teary eyed trying to write this review. That is how much this book, and series work their way into your heart. Just as with the previous book there is even more added threat to their survival. They are doing pretty well in the fort, but they are still in real danger. The Vigilante still hasn't been caught, there is the new military threat, there is a massively huge horde of zombies coming, and people seem to be turning on each other. We also have the added element of the ghosts who are trapped between and can't move on. It is a perfect addition to an already epic story! The characters are just as kick butt, and we meet a few new characters. Some I loved, some I hated. (Paige would be one I hated.) Rhiannon's ability to make you feel like you personally know them is just amazing, and makes it even more devastating when bad things happen. She also does a great job at keeping the humor and touching moments in there too, which make you smile even through the tears that will undoubtedly be streaming down your face! That humor and caring makes it that much harder on you because you love the characters so much. It is great how they come together as a community and are willing to risk themselves to help others. This book is an amazingly awesome conclusion to the As The World Dies series. It really could not have been better. I think that when I finished the book and closed it, the pieces of my broken heart stayed scattered among the pages inside! This is one of the most heart-pounding, tension filled, emotional books I have ever read. I was sobbing uncontrollably through a lot of the book. I felt like someone was squeezing my heart, and found myself holding my breath numerous times. This series is a truly touching story about survival even in the worst of times. It shows you how selfless some people can be, and how selfish and oblivious others can be. I can't say enough how great this book is. I just want everyone to read it!! I would give this a million stars in a heartbeat! (That is if I had not left my heart in the pages of this book.)
I really loved this book.. But I feel like the end should have continued with telling us how the world had come back together, with the government gone, the zombies still out there, what was to happen to these people? Do they just try to continue or do they try to find more survivors?
I LOVE this series!!! Love the references to Ramero and how real the characters are! you fall in love and laugh and cry and die with them! Wish Rhiannon Frater would write a few more books just like this one
I could not put this book down. The story is fast pace with with pleanty of action. The charachters are believible and easy to get attached to. Great read!
Read this book...Great Series!!!
Read in April, 2012Read for FunOverall Rating: 5+Story Rating: 5+Character Rating: 5+NOTE: I feel the need to start my review with a note this time. I have read (and rated) 468 books and have only given 40--5 star ratings. Both The First Days and Siege got 5's from me. I can not stress how well written, brilliantly executed, and boldly told this series is. You must read it even if you don't like zombies. It is a story of humanity, heartbreak, and hope!First Thought when Finished: That is a way to end a trilogy!What I Loved: When a series comes to an end, I look for 2 things: closure and hope. As a reader, I need to feel closure for both the characters and myself. I need to know that this particular phase (emotional, physical, challenge) has been met and that the characters are off to face a new phase in their lives. I also need hope. I need to feel like their world goes on and that they embrace the life that they have been given. That this life (yes I realize it is fictional) they have is worth fighting for and the future (no matter how bleak) holds hope for a better tomorrow with loved ones. These key elements allow me to feel that I was lucky to have shared this part of the characters journey and for now we part ways. Rhiannon Frater managed to break my heart, sew it back together, scare me to death, and finally leave me with hope that these characters that I have come to love would move on from now and into the future! I could not ask for more from a story than what I was given in Siege. It was a very fitting end to what will be one of my favorite trilogies EVER!What I Liked: My favorite thing about Rhiannon's writing (both series that I have read) is her ability to create complex characters in all shades of grey. However, with this series it was her ability to build a world that was compelling and believable. It is not often that you get both compelling characters and a world that almost counts as a character all its own!Final Thought: Both The First Days and Siege received 5's from me. I stand behind those ratings 110% and recommend these books to anyone who enjoys a really good story told with a ton of courage and alright just a bit of gore (really there is gore--I have to mention it LOL)! Get thee to the bookstore! You won't be sorry!PS: I am not leaving out Fighting to Survive--I gave it a 4.75! This is probably the highest rated series (outside Harry Potter) that I have given. Truly it was just brilliant!
Life at the fort is never easy. There are lot of very different people forced together for survival plus the masses of undead outside. Each and every decision they make could lead to their survival or their certain death. These decisions usually fall on Travis' shoulders as he was voted in as mayor. Beyond his responsibilities, Travis is starting a new family with Jenni and hope is going strong for the survivors. Many find new love, create new families, and begin to flourish despite all the carnage and zombies in the outside world. They discover another survivor haven run by the remains of the government who want to take over their fort. They also find out about a huge horde of thousands and thousands of zombies heading toward their fort. Who will live and die? Will their society survive these obstacles?Siege is the third and final installment of Rhiannon Frater's As the World Dies series. These characters are so amazing and vibrant and memorable. There are a lot of named characters and I would have thought it be hard to remember them all, but they all have defining characteristics and their own outlook on life. Some of them are horrible human beings in my book, condemning other people because of lifestyle choices and infractions against their religion or simply putting their own needs above the needs and lives of others. In the face of the complete and utter breakdown of society, I would think people would put aside such petty differences. Others are people I wish I knew like loca Jenni, fiery Juan, tough Nerit, Crazy Calhoun, brilliant Jason, and so many others. The character development is phenomenal with this series and I'm sad the series is over.This book is amazing and a crazy emotional rollercoaster. I laughed and celebrated with the characters and I literally sobbed when some of them died (which was kind of embarrassing when I read the book in public). The deaths are numerous and I felt them more intensely than most novels. Despite all the death and undeath surrounding our survivors, they still manage to feel happiness and hope. They actually live instead of simply surviving. They build new families and have a warm sense of camaraderie for the most part. The true family in the fort never wavers and never abandons their loved ones. The action in Siege is amazing and I was on the edge of my seat for most of the novel, waiting to see what happened to my favorite characters. Zombies are not the only things that threaten our intrepid heroes. Humans do a lot of damage and sometimes use zombies to do their dirty work. The only part I didn't like about the book was how involved ghosts became in the action and came to be a kind of deus ex machina. Their existence is fine because it's a supernatural universe, but when they influence things to much it bothers me a little. Other than this one tiny thing, this book is wonderful and this series deserves a place on every zombies fans shelf.
Hands down the best zombie apocalypse series yet. A story that flows so well with characters that grab your heart. The zombies are almost an afterthought to the story because the real story are the people, their friendships and conflicts. This story made me cry at times and paralyzed me with fear at others. This was the last book in the series and although I would have loved for it to go, it was ended. Zombie lovers should have this book on their MUST HAVE list!
What an awesome conclusion to a thrilling series! The ride wasn¿t exactly easy, but it was a fun one. There were bumps along the way and plenty of ¿That did NOT just happen¿ moments, but in the end I felt this was a perfect ending to one of the most exciting zombie series I¿ve read in a very long time. Each book just got better and better.I won¿t give anything about the plot away other than to say the residents of the fort are about to have their boundaries tested by both the living and the dead. Lines are crossed, lives are lost and I held my breath the entire way through.While the books are all fast-paced, I felt the author perfectly balanced the zombie-fight action with the ¿human¿ moments to give us a real sense of who these people are. She does this effortlessly without ruining the pace of the books. What Ms. Frater excels in is creating real characters that you sincerely care about. You live with these characters, you don¿t just read about them, and that is what I loved so much about the books. Many times when I read a book I get close to a character and I care about them, but I don¿t feel as deeply invested in them as I did here.I¿ve said it once, and I¿ll say it again, this series is awesome and I think you should give it a shot. If you are a fan of ¿The Walking Dead¿ then you definitely MUST check it out. My only problem with the book is that it marks the end of the series. I guess I¿ll just have to read them all again.
I read all three books and I can finally say I'm done. I really didn't want Jenni to die but it happened and it was great.
Will you have any other stories for this genre in the future?
This is a terrific zombie trilogy! All three books were a fun, fast read. They really were much better than I expected. There were some flaws in the storyline, but not enough to detract from the enjoyment of the overall story. The ending seemed a bit rushed to me, but still a great story. Check it out. It's definitely worth reading.
Loved it as much as the walking dead!
Loved the series
Cover to cover in two days couldn't put it down!!!!
Very good read!! If only there was more?