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Crucible of Time

In the badlands of post-holocaust America, there is no tomorrow

Laurence James

Cover Artist:
Michael Herring

First Edition

Release Date:
January, 1999

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Audio Cassette

Release Date:
November, 2001

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Graphic Audio MP3 CD

Release Date:
November, 2006

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Graphic Audio MP3 Download

Release Date:
November, 2006

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A connection to his past awaits Ryan Cawdor as the group takes a mat-trans jump to the remnants of California. Brother Joshua Wolfe is the leader of the Children of the Rock -- a cult that has left a trail of barbarism and hate across the ravaged California countryside. Far from welcoming the group with open arms, the cult forces them into a deadly battle-ritual -- which is only their first taste of combat...

Back Cover:


In the Centuries after the nuclear devastation of America, life favors those who maintain their fighting edge in the lawless wastelands. In a nearly untouched remnant of California, a land of pines and roaring rivers, forgetfulness is tempting for a much-tried band of warrior survivalists. But Ryan Cawdor, son of an East Coast Baron, knows that in the Deathlands even a tiny glimpse of heaven can be a portal to hell.


An insular group of fanatics calling itself the Children of the Rock is leaving a trail of barbarism and a growing tide of hate in it's wake. The leader of the cult is connected to Ryan's past - to Trader and the war wagon days. Littered with victors and losers, it's a past some can't walk away from ... In this haven in a ravaged country, Ryan and his warrior wayfarers find that new laws of survival have emerged.

In the Deathlands, the wrong move buys eternity.


Crucible Of Time 11/02/2003
by GuapoPogi
I was looking forward to reading another LJ Deathlands book but this was just a carbon copy of all the others. Filled with giant mutie rats, giant mutie fish, and religious zealots. The group gets drugged and captured, and is forced to fight in combat games. The group escapes during an earthquake. Just the same old stuff with a different religious leader, and a different colored gateway. Other than those slight differences it could have been any of 2 dozen of his earlier books. I give it a 3
Crucify me if you want--
by Robey
--but the return of Laurence James to the series he wrote for so long also heralded the return to Dullsville.

This was an disappointing let-down after the fabulous Dark Emblem. Crucible of Time, which had nothing to do with time by the way though Dark Emblem did, was a typical DL from beginning to end. No surprises, no revelations, no thrills. The supposedly shocking dinner scene where Ryan and his companions learn they were being fed human meat by their hosts was lifted pretty much whole from the last Earthblood novel.

Crucible of Time was slow and sluggish in pace, with what seemed to be me a lot of aimless wandering before the actual story gets moving.

In my opinion, with this book and the return to the tired old formula, the fresher, more energetic approach which I had been enjoying in the DL series over the previous couple of years came to a halt.
Standard LJ stuff
by The Phantom
This last novel written by the original James Axler is a little bit of a disappointment, like the author was running out of ideas, and in my opinion, it was a good thing by this time that the torch was passed to other writers. The familiar writing of the characters was one of the positive things about the novel, but the book in general was... well, general. I found the book started with about as basic as a typical book starts as you can get, nothing much happens, and no new ground is broken.
Further along Ryan and his crew come upon a gun loving religious group, and they stay there, and find themselves in a bad situation. The action heats up in the last part of the book, with the adventure moving along quickly, so it was a decent page-turner at this point, but the story itself wasn't all that great, but at least Doc Tanner got some good scenes in toward the end.
The Earthquake was a very contrived way of wrapping up the story, this is the kind of thing that bugs me because of the coincidence of a natural disaster hitting at the right place at just the right time.

The book has a western flavor to some scenes that James liked to use, and some gory and shocking moments. A plain book overall with enough action in the later part of the book to keep it from being boring, I give it a 5.
by One Eye Chills
CRUCIBLE OF TIME was apparently the very last DL that the illustrious and poetic writer Laurence James wrote. He is still missed very much by me, (and a lot more, I'm sure!), abd left a lasting legacy in the sci-fi/action/adventure genre.
Though not his best, CRUCIBLE is still better than some of the latest crap written for this series in the last couple of years.
But Laurence will always be remembered as the King of Deathlands. He brought it to a level and magnitude that Gold Eagle was probably surprised at. Giving this series a cult following that still seems to last even to this day.
CRUCIBLE OF TIME may not be his best, but it sure beats the hell out of a bunch of other boring books that I've tried in the last 20 years. And that's saying something!
Reading the old Deathland's is like reuniting with old friends once again.
Despite some of the great new writers that now write this series, these were Laurence's children. And he cultivated them as such. It comes across so clearly in those older books.
CRUCIBLE OF TIME will always hold a special place in my heart, along with one of the best all-time writers there ever was...
R.I.P. Laurence James
by ShadowTek
The final book of the architect of the deathlands, I really want in respect to rate the book higher then a 7, but I have to be real, it is a good story with the whole Children of the Rock thing, but it feels rehashed, but it is a good story.

God Bless Laurence James, you will be missed, thanks for all the great entertainment you have given us!!!