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Saturday, June 28, 2014

Book Review: Desolation Angels by James Axler

Desolation Angels
by James Axler

320 pages
Publisher: Gold Eagle

(July 1, 2014)
A hundred years after the nukecaust, the tortured landscape of postapocalyptic America offers a brutal fight for survival. Yet tech secrets lie hidden, useful to those brave and strong enough to believe that hope can carry them toward ever-elusive peace.

Violent gangs, a corrupt mayor and a heavily armed police force are the hallmarks of former Detroit, a mutie-infested, rubble-strewn metropolis. When Ryan and the companions show up, the Desolation Angels are waging a war to rule the streets. After saving the companions from being chilled by gangsters, the mayor hires Ryan and his friends to stop the Angels cold. But each hard blow toward victory proves there's no good side to be fighting for. As Motor City erupts into bloody conflagration, the companions are caught in the crossfire. In Deathlands, hell is called home.

Desolation Angels is a new installment in what appears to be a very long running and prolific series, which posed a significant problem for this reader. There was an excellent recap / introduction of the primary characters at the beginning of the book, just prior to chapter one, but had this not been provided the reader would, in my opinion, be lost. 

The book opens with these characters appearing in a chamber and their fight to escape as it begins to fill with sewage and zombie like creatures try to eat them and off we go. . .the story then proceeds with some very well written head loping, guns blasting, and explosive action.

The characters are very colorful and unique, both the good guys and baddies and I found myself begging to know more. However, the action continues scene after scene, fight and flight over and over again to the point I started to feel like the little old lady that made the hamburger commercial famous and could not help asking—where's the story? Every time the protagonists come to a stop and you think okay here we go, the story abruptly segs into another Shoot 'Em Up with absolutely no explanation why.

There is a small underlying tale here, but it does not emerge until the book is about three quarters of the way through by which time desensitization started to set in and no matter how well written the action scenes were, I just did not care anymore and actually considered finding a way to blow these guys up myself just to put them out of their misery.

Now for longtime fans of the series this is likely to be a great installment in the ongoing saga, after all the writer is very good at crafting these scenes and perhaps greater back story might make a difference, but I am not sure and stand behind the statement that this book needs more story and perhaps fewer flights and explosions. Had the head lopping and explosions not been so well done I would have given this read two sheep and if you are looking for nonstop action with little story to go with it, you will likely really enjoy the tale more than I. I received this book via NetGalley.

3 Sheep


About the Author/Gold Eagle Books:
James Axler is a house name used by the publishing company Gold Eagle Books, the action adventure series published by Harlequin Enterprises Ltd.

The name was first used for the "Deathlands" series, which began in 1986 with Pilgrimage to Hell, co-written by Christopher Lowder (under the pseudonym Jack Adrian) and Laurence James. James went on to write the next 32 novels before passing away on 9 February 2000.

The next writer to work under the Axler pen name was prolific author Mark Ellis. A comics creator and writer, Ellis created the cult-favorite character Death Hawk as well as adapting popular properties such as Doc Savage and The Wild Wild West.

Ellis contributed to Gold Eagle's The Executioner series and wrote three novels in the Deathlands series, with uncredited contributions to two others. In 1996 he created the popular Outlanders series. He has produced more books as "James Axler" than any other writer.

Other authors using the pseudonym for this series are (in no particular order):
Nick Pollotta, Mel Odom, Terry Collins, Alan Philipson, Andy Boot, Edo Van Belkom, Victor Milán, Douglas Wojtowicz, and Rik Hoskin.


  1. I have listened to a few of these books in the new all-cast audiobooks. They were fun, not too serious. One was set near where I live and totally had some landmarks wrong, even for a post-apocalyptic world. That added some extra amusement for me personally. I like that I can jump in pretty much anywhere in this series and enjoy books as individual reads. And I didn't know that 'James Axeler' was a house name under which several authors wrote. So thanks for that tidbit.

  2. Based on just one book, you're right super action packed. I would like to say that if you jump into the middle of Any book series you will probably be lost.