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Spoils of Victory
The baronial machine ruling post-apocalyptic America is no more, yet even as settlers leave the fortressed cities and attempt to build new lives in the untamed outlands, a deadly new struggle is born. The hybrid barons have evolved into their new forms, their avaricious scope expanding to encompass the entire world. Though the war has changed, the struggle for the Cerberus rebels remains the same: save humanity from its slavers.
Amidst the sacred Indian lands in Wyoming's Bighorn Mountains, a consortium with roots in pre-Dark secrets is engaged in the excavation of ancient artifacts, turning the newly liberated outlands into a hellzone. Kane and the Cerberus warriors organize a strike against the outlaws, only to find themselves navigating a twisted maze of legend, manipulation and the fury of a woman warrior. Driven by power, hatred and revenge, she's now on the verge of uncovering and releasing a force of unfathomable evil....
The usual splendid job
Several months have passed since the events depicted in the turning point novel, "Children of the Serpent", and in the “Axlerverse” as imagined by Mark Ellis, the world has changed.
The baronies have fallen and people are leaving them, seeking new destinies in the Outlands.
A pack of ex-Magistrates known as the Hell Hounds led by a character who showed up briefly in the very first novel, Exile to Hell, preys on the convoys of the settlers. It’s no surprise who sets out to the stop them. That simple mission leads Kane, Brigid and Grant on a wild ride through the frontier, Native American myth, and even the residue of the old predark government.
Although I was hoping for more about the Anunnaki Overlords, I enjoyed the fleshing out of the Millennial Consortium, introduced in "Evil Abyss". I also liked the smaller scale of Cerberus Storm, without the world hanging in the balance or some deadly science-fiction device counting down to doomsday.
Mark Ellis does his usual splendid job of characterization and laying the groundwork. He is masterful at creating characters we love and respect, characters we can both despise and sympathize with, like the beautiful but tormented Catamount.
This novel is not an “instant classic” book like "Children of the Serpent", but Mark Ellis has set such a high standard with the Outlanders series that any of his contributions are very good indeed compared to the fill-in work of other writers.
This is what we have here, despite the fake reviews posted on Amazon.com by an embittered wanna-be (who goes by the names of Michael Goodwin and Eric the Red).
However, "Cerberus Storm" has all the necessary elements to hook and hold a reader; a fascinating concept and compelling characters you want to know more about, whether or not you personally find them likable.
Catamount is definitely not likable but she’s certainly one of the most compelling of the memorable characters who have appeared in this series over the years!
I enjoyed the interactions of all the characters and I was very glad to see Sky Dog show up again and play a prominent role in the adventure. It was also illuminating to see the heroes as flawed and being outmanuevered by a cunning enemy. Even Kane has to shamefacedly admit that he and his friends have been over-relying on their technology and their reputations.
There are a multiple mysteries being set up within the narrative of "Cerberus Storm", the most obvious being what's so mysterious about Medicine Mountain.
By the end of the prologue you are intrigued and as the story continues to build, the more you want to know. That’s the hallmark of a great writer and a great book!
Great adventure yarn!
Cerberus Storm is a great adventure yarn that frankly surprised me because it was so low-tech.
I was expecting the second chapter in the conflict with the Overlords but instead, the book expanded upon the Millennial Consortium who briefly appeared back in Evil Abyss and featured Sky Dog a lot more prominently than any other OL book.
In a lot of ways, Cerberus Storm reminded me of the movie Last of the Mohicans since almost all of it was set in the wilderness and set Kane, Brigid and Grant against the forces of nature and creepifying Indian magic.
There are overland treks and boat journeys down rivers and frontier scum-buckets and ambushes. There’s a lot of graphic violence in this book.
The Millennial Consortium is a very interesting new group of adversaries, particularly their weird leader, Benedict Snow. I’m pretty sure we’ll see a lot more of these guys in future OL novels.
My two favorite things about Cerberus Storm are the scenes where our heroes are stripped pretty much to their bare essentials yet still come out victorious. Even Kane talks about how they might have become too reliant on their guns and tech instead of their wits.
After Successors with its fixation on big guns, big ATVs, big grenades and big mouths, this attitude was a refreshing change.
My most favorite thing about Cerberus Storm: Catamount!
A crazy American Indian version of Catwoman!
She’s a great character, fascinating, sexy, sympathetic and scary! Her loving relationship with the vicious cougar, Deathmaul is really strange, too. There’s even some hints of lesbo stuff between her and Brigid.
If warrior women characters make certain readers uncomfortable, then Catamount will really shake them up.
She’s like Fand, Ambika and Sif all rolled into one but with a degree of depth that those characters didn’t have.
Catamount is a great character, one of the most memorable to appear in any OL book.
Overall, Cerberus Storm is a very different kind of OL adventure, a little more paranormal than s.f., but it’s a fast-moving and colorful tale with plenty of action and boatloads of interesting characters.
The best thing Gold Eagle publishes
by Cerberus Man
Over the summer, I sampled one book each of the most recent Gold Eagle offerings. With Cerberus Storm, once again Mark Ellis shows us why the Outlanders series is the best thing currently published by Gold Eagle.
His latest entry in the ongoing saga of the Cerberus warriors picks up the story several months after the events of Children of the Serpent, but with no mention of what went on in the fill-in book, Successors, which is for the best.
A lot has changed in the Axlerverse-the villes have fallen into chaos and people are leaving them, paying for transportation to find new lands to settle, like the wagon trains of the 19th century. The convoys are being preyed upon by renegade Magistrates and when the Cerberus warriors decide to put a stop to i, they do so in a big, blazing way-as usual for them.
Also as usual for an Outlanders adventure by Mark Ellis, that's just the tip of the iceberg. Soon Kane, Grant and Brigid are reunited with their old friend Sky Dog of the Lakota and his warrior society.
From the first novel, the strength of the Outlanders series has been the characters and their growth, development and interaction and Cerberus Storm is no exception.
Mark Ellis put these strong characters into new situations with each novel, but still have readers identify with them. One of the compelling things about this novel is how the main crew, the trinity of Kane, Brigid and Grant deal with a technologically superior enemy out in the wilderness.
In this, Ellis excels.
But there's also a fascinating plot with the introduction of Catamount and the mysterious power wielded by an ancient Indian artifact. The Millennial Consortium shows up fully formed and they're nothing like what I expected from the brief mention of them back in Evil Abyss. I'm sure this group will make some serious enemies in future episodes.
For those of you expecting a confrontation with the Overlords, I will say I was expecting the same thing, but after finishing Cerberus Storm, I didn't mind one bit that it dealt with a completely different storyline.
Those surprises are one of best things about the Outlanders series, keeping it fresh and unpredictable.
Also-just because Ellis didn't bring this fast-paced story to a halt to show Kane and Brigid "doing it" to satisfy the mastabatory fantasies of One Eye Chills, Eric the Red and his other alter-egos, there's plenty of eroticism in Cerberus Storm, mainly due to Catamount.
The story comes to a good but somewhat sudden ending point--leaving you curious and wanting more. And isn't that what all good stories in an ongoing series are about?
Not only is Cerberus Storm a great entry in the OL series, it could also be used as an example of a new DL approach if GE could ever get its act together.
One of the interesting things about Cerberus Storm is how different it is from the soaring sci-fi epic heights of Children of the Serpent, yet it is still definately an OL adventure. Mark Ellis doesn’t follow a set in stone formula like DL.
Cerberus Storm is a basically a western, trekking through the wilderness and encountering all sorts of animal-related characters, like the Hell Hounds, the Kit Foxes and the Lynx Soldiers.
Its very low-tech for an OL adventure which was why it made me think of DL and this made for an interesting difference from Children of the Serpent...from a mile-long spaceship to traveling downstream in an old riverboat called the "Crazy Woman.'
Several months have passed since the fall of the baronies and people are venturing into the Outlands for the first time in nearly a century, looking for new lives and new places to settle.
A group called the Hell Hounds preys on the convoys of settlers and the Cerberus warriors set out to stop them and in the process uncover another mystery which involves their old friend Sky Dog of the Lakota.
It’s a savage story, almost like a frontier folk tale with the Indian lore about the demonic baykok, the Indian sorceror the Owl Prophet and the Tai-Me.
When the Millennial Consortium shows up, the story becomes more like a standard OL adventure, but that group is so interesting (particularly their boss, Benedict Snow) I didn’t mind. I’m sure they’ll cross paths with the Cerberus warriors again.
There’s plenty of humor in the book too, with the main characters all in top-notch, on-model form. The scene where Brigid and Grant learn their Indian names made me laugh out loud.
And of course, there’s Catamount, one of the most interesting characters to show up in any OL novel. When she first appears she comes off as bloodthirsty sadistic bleep but as the reader learns more about her, we admire her and come to feel sorry for her.
If Ambika was a copy of Xena, then Catamount is a little reminiscent of Elektra but with her own spin. Her spiritual connection with the cougar, Deathmaul was cool but disturbing.
Cerberus Storm is a fast-paced, action-packed adventure story, jammed with surprises, great characters and different kinds of action.
The full ten stars!!!
Another wonderful read
This book starts with a full-out run (by a Lakota warrior) and doesn't let up for an instant. It was very difficult to set this book down (which I find typical of the Outlanders series).
It is amazing that, after the years of combating and finally triumphing over the Baronies, a new antagonist could so convincingly be proposed. It shouldn't come as a surprise based on the past performance of this series, but as merely a reader it seemed a difficult achievement. The author draws upon clues and presumably minor events in previous books to form the basis for the new antagonists (former Lakotan tribeswomen and the Millennial Consortium) without any breaks in tempo or belief.
Several have described this episode as a "Western," but it seems to me that this is just an attempt to attach a label. Sure, it's a story with horses, Amerindians, and located in the "West", but it is an adventure story like its predecessors - plain and simple. Whether the characters wield swords, guns, or lasers seems irrelevant to me. It is a another great story of several individuals trying to do what is right and just in a land that is rife with treachery, greed, and oppression. It is less reliant on technology than previous episodes due to the events that transpire, but this does not increase or reduce the level of danger to the protagonists.
The fallability and vulnerability of the characters continues to keep these stories believable even in fantastic scenarioes. Cerberus Storm's events are less fantasic than previous episodes, but this does not reduce the story's strength. The combat encounters that the protagonists endure do not always go in their favor; in fact, only when they were optimally outfitted do they seem to triumph - a fact pointed out by Kane. The author also manages to keep the reader guessing as to the depth of their fallability when they appear to make the same mistake several times.
Overall, I found this novel to be highly entertaining and a great addition to the series!
With regard to some comments made by individuals with an obvious agenda, this is not a Deathlands novel. It is not an attempt to write a Deathlands novel nor show how a Deathlands novel should be written. This suggestion is an absurdity. If the author wanted to write a Deathlands novel, Gold Eagle would certainly not hesitate to allow him to do so. There is a recapitulation of past information in this novella, but only to the extent of fleshing out a current event. The presence of such summaries are no more intrusive than any other description of settings or characters. Complaints of recapitulation are as useless as complaining of an author's description of a sunrise (it is assumed that the reader already knows what a sunrise looks like). Also, readers complaining about whether or not two characters have sex or not need to take a good look at what they're reading. Even though Gold Eagle is owned by Harlequin, that relationship does not edict descriptive sexual encounters. The author has developed a series of characters who happen to not have sex with each other. The author is telling a detailed and complex adventure story - not sell sex. Get over it. There are plenty of other authors out there that will sell sex to you - patronize them.
It is also obvious that the particular reviewer that I refer to has not read the book thoroughly (or those obnoxious recaps he complains about). Otherwise, he would know why Kane and Grant aren't killed by Catamount and the Lynx Soldiers, that Brigid has an eidetic memory, she has been trained in hand-to-hand and weapons combat, etc.
It is true that there are a number of copy editing errors in the novel. If this is the reason to condemn a novella, then I guess we should all dislike most books and movies ever made.
An intelligent adventure story
I enjoyed this book very much, although some of the violence was a little too graphic for my tastes. However, the descriptions of all the places and people were very vivid and the characters very interesting. I also liked the relationships between heroes.
I have my doubts that a Native woman would walk around topless in a Wyoming winter as Catamount does, but there were some Northeastern tribes whose women's attitude toward nudity was very open.
The Native mythology in the book showed a great deal of research and respect. I was surprised to find out that the tai-me was a real artifact. So I learned while I was entertained!
I'm very curious to find out about Catamount and Sky Dog and if they ever can heal their relationship.
Overall, Cerberus Storm was an intelligent adventure story and it was refreshing to see how the female characters were not made subordinate to the men, which seems to be the standard fate for heroines in books of this kind.
Return of the Master
This novel was a somewhat nice change of pace, considering that we have so many earth shattering stories to contend with, especially Children of the Serpent, which changed the whole outlook of the series in one single shot.
So, the fact that this novel was straight-forward was, in a way, kind of refreshing.
Eight months have passed between this novel and the last one written by Mark, Children of the Serpent.
A lot can happen during eight months, and hopefully some of the events that took place will be detailed in future novels.
It begins with a young Indian being hunted down by a group of warrior women, and leads into an encounter between the Cerberus exiles and a group of renegade Magistrates, who after the fall of the Baronies into pure Chaos, have decided to eke out a living as highwaymen and slavers.
It's through this meeting that Kane and company discover that the warrior women are linked with the Hellhounds, the former Magistrates, and a third party as well.
You have a Warrior maiden (well, considering what happened to her, you really can't call her a maiden now, can you?) named Catamount, who is after a sacred indian artifact.
It's not revealed until well over half way into the novel the reason she's looking for this artifact, or the motivation behind her throwing her lot in with the Millennial Consortium. You'd think that a proud, powerful woman like Catamount would never have anything to do with a man, especially a white man, but the reasons become quite clear.
I won't give away too much more of the plot, as what I have said pretty much covers the gist of it.
It was nice to finally learn about those behind the Consortium, and the plans that they have for the Outlands now that the Baron's have disappeared.
The author once again shows his knowledge of Native American history and mythology, blending both into a well written, exciting adventure.
If I had a single complaint, it would be how the novel ended. It seemed too abrupt.
As is the standard with all of The main author of the series novels, we have familiar interaction between the main characters, although some have begun showing signs of changes, like Lakesh - and this time because it's slow and gradual, it's not a bad thing. With his youth still more or less intact, he is taking more chances and heading out into the wilds with Kane, Brigid and Grant more often, and seems to be showing interest in his Eastern Indian heritage once again.
We have a powerful, exotic and beautiful woman introduced, one that may or may not be an enemy in the future.
The only thing missing was the really exotic location - we have had adventures set in space, on the moon, Mars, all over the world, even other dimensions and times.
Was it really a bad thing though? No, not at all. The fact that the novel dealt with Native American's made that pretty much impossible. So an adventure stuck pretty much in their own back yard was a nice change of pace.
I am interested in seeing if the villan, the Towasi, will return. It wasn't clear if this 'evil spirit' was destroyed or merely defeated at the end of the book.
More good storytelling
by The Phantom
The author took a different turn in this installment of the series. This is a story centered far away from the redoubt, aliens, spaceships, other planets, or high technology. Out in the elements of nature, among the American Indians, Kane and his friends have much of their adventure in the cold mountain regions of Wyoming.
I liked the interesting Indian lore that Ellis weaved into this story. Catamount was a fascinating character, her story was interesting, and Sky Dog has his own history revealed as well. The harsh elements made a good backdrop as Kane battles with ex mag gangs, and a journey to a mountain holding great secrets.
Action mixes with well told storytelling, and then the conclusion of the book at the mountain is the best part. Finally Mr. Snow is confronted, and once again the author's portrayal of a villain is done very well, and the final pages are very exciting.
Another high quality addition to this series very well worth getting your hands on.