|Publication date||September, 1992|
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Raw determination in a savage land
Out of the ruins of nuclear-torn America emerges a band of warrior-survivalists, led by a one-eyed man called Ryan Cawdor. In their quest to find a better life, they embark on a perilous odyssey across the ravaged wasteland known as Deathlands.
An ambush by a roving group of mutant Stickies puts Ryan in the clutches of a tyrant who plans a human sacrifice as a symbol of his power. With the rise of the new moon, Ryan Cawdor must meet his fate of chance an escape through a deadly maze of uncharted canyons.
Generations have passed since a nuclear blast all but turned America to dust. Out of the ruins emerges a band of warrior-survivalists, led by a one-eyed man called Ryan Cawdor. In their quest to find a better life, they embark on a perilous odyssey across the ravaged wasteland known as Deathlands.
An ambush by a roving group of mutant Stickies puts Ryan and Krysty Wroth in the clutches of a tyrant who plans a human sacrifice as a symbol of his power. The execution is set to take place at the new moon -- one night away. Ryan devises an escape plan but is betrayed by another prisoner. As they break for freedom, the Stickie leader unleashes a team of hunter-trackers among the maze of narrow canyons of the Southwest. For Ryan and Krysty, there's nowhere left to run...
In the Deathlands, the only thing that gets easier is dying.
As the story begins, Ryan and Dean have just arrived back in New Mexico after leaving the sulfur mine in Canada. They're looking forward to a good meal at the farm and some rest, but they see smoke instead. They hurry back to find everything burned, lots of tracks - but no bodies.
Meanwhile, the gate activates again and something comes through...
Ryan draws up some water from the well and finds a note from Krysty tied to the bucket. It warns him not to drink the water under any circumstances, and that she and the others are all right and have gone north.
They go north and are forced to stop for the night along the path. In the morning, the stench of rotting flesh draws them to an abandoned strip mine not far away, where they find a pile of bodies. Dean goes down to check them out, and he finds that they've all been shot in the back of the head.
They keep heading north and find another message. Krysty lays out everything that happened: not long after Ryan left, a group of people came to the farm, but they were infected with the bubonic plague. One of the children vomited all over the living room, and one of the women was shot and fell into the well. After that, the companions had no choice but to kill them all, burn the farm, and flee north.
The next day, Ryan and Dean stop near a pond to cook a rabbit they've caught. The sec hunter that's been following Ryan finally catches up to them, and he's forced to fight it. He finally destroys it by luring it into the water, where it short-circuits.
Not long after, Krysty finds them, and they're reunited. JB and Mildred are tending the livestock in a canyon a few miles away, so Ryan, Krysty, and Jak go to see them. Along the way, they spot a pair of stickies heading toward the canyon. Ryan and Jak kill them, and they stand up to look down at the canyon, but they don't see the other group behind them.
The leader, Charlie, orders them to drop their weapons and turn around. Jak slips away while they're distracted, but the stickies take Ryan and Krysty prisoner. He gets down to let JB and Mildred know what's happened, then he and JB go after the pair while Mildred goes to catch up with the rest of the group.
When the stickies get Ryan and Krysty back to their camp, the norms are tossed into a pit with the other prisoners, one of whom just happens to be Abe. On the second night after they're caught, one of the prisoners tries to make a break for it. He falls before getting away, though, and is recaptured; the stickies torture and kill him, then toss his body into the river nearby, where's it washed away...
And hits a snag a couple miles downstream. The rest of the companions are tracking the group, and Dean finds the body. They lost the trail the night before due to heavy rain, but they now know that the camp is located near the river, so they follow it north.
That night, Ryan tells the rest of the prisoners about his escape plan. One of them tries to betray them, so Krysty is forced to kill him. Not long after, one of the female stickies named Marcie takes Ryan out to her house and proceeds to rape him.
Right about this time, a group of lepers appears and attacks the stickie community. One of them kills Marcie and is about to shoot Ryan when he's killed in turn. Ryan escapes, frees the others, and they grab their weapons and make a break for it.
They head up toward a predark ghost town; Ryan and Jak hole up in a theatre along with Abe, who was wounded, while the others keep going up the road. After dealing with the lepers, Charlie gives chase. He sends a pair of stickies to scout the theater, but it's too dark to see, so they move on, but they leave three behind just in case. Ryan kills one in the theatre, then he and Jak go hunting; Jak kills another and catches the third, but is stabbed in the lung. Ryan hunts it down and kills it.
Meanwhile, the rest of the group has reached a plateau and sets a trap for Charlie and his stickies. Dean goes out in the open to draw them up, then the others open fire, slaughtering everyone by Charlie himself. He flees back to the ghost town, where he finds Ryan outside and shoots at him (but misses). He ducks into the theater, but Abe (who has recovered enough to move) stabs him in the stomach with a large shard of glass. He drops his Uzi and flees into the night.
Two months later, Ryan and Jak are on the porch of the newly rebuilt farm when Christina calls for them from the back of the house. She's standing over the body of Charlie, who showed up begging for food. After he threatened their infant daughter, she killed him with a wood axe.
- This book was authored by Laurence James.
- Second Edition was released in April, 1999.
- Audio Cassette was released in June, 1999.