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Out of the ruins of worldwide nuclear devastation emerged Deathlands, a world that conspired against survival. Ryan Cawdor and his roving band of post-holocaust survivors begin their quest for survival in a world gone mad.
THE WORLD BLEW OUT IN 2001
On a crisp January day, a Presidential inauguration day, a one-megaton blast ripped through the Soviet embassy in Washington, D.C.
Subsequent explosions around the globe changed the face and the shape of the earth forever. Out of the ruins emerged Deathlands, a world that conspired against survival.
In the blasted heart of the new America, a group of men and women plan desperately to escape the eerie wastes and mutated life forms of their nuclear hell.Three warriors - the tough, intelligent Ryan Cawdor, an enigmatic beauty called Krysty Wroth, and the armorer J. B. Dix - set out on a harrowing journey to find a rumored enclave high in the mountains.
Their aim: to unlock the secrets of prewar scientific experiments that could hold the answer to survival in the Deathlands of the future.
A must read.
This is the one that started it all. You'll want to read it more than once, it's that good. I've been lucky enough to have started the Deathlands series from the very beginning and have read them in order up until several years ago. This one still holds the key the Deathlands world.
After reading a couple titles in the middle of the series I decided to try and read them in order. So far I am glad I did although I understand after #33 or so it really isn't as meaningful. PTH was great adventure. The descriptions of the characters and landscape was well done. The story had a good tempo to it and was tough to put down. It is easy to see why the books remain so popular. The loss of the Trader's Caravan really turned the main characters into the nomads they are through the series. The introduction of Doc and the Mat-Trans lead a certain intrigue to what may be around the next corner.
One Of The Best
This was the second book. After I was hooked by Nuetron Solstice I had to get this one. This is the begining, the place to start. A must read, and great story line. This is where we meet Cort Strasser, he has to be one of the all-time master evil hearts.
Just didn't do it for me
by Cerberus Man
I finally got around to finishing this first book in the DL series a few weeks ago, and I have to say it didn't do anything for me at all. If possible it was worse than I thought it would be with all the cliches about "muties" and ridiculous gunfights and macho hot-doggers trying to outdo each other with how bad-ass they were.
In my opinion it was predictable and slowly paced, full of every cliche that no respectable science-fiction author would go within a light year of touching.
The characters were stereotypes, there was no humor, no nuances about them at all. They were two-dimensional cardboard stand-ups.
The prologue with the predictions of what led up to the nukecaust was my favorite part because it was so off-the-wall. But I suppose when Jack Adrian wrote it, he had no idea the series would still be around now.
It was useful as the historical backstory of Outlanders, though. Definitely a parallel reality.
Worth the Wait!
My first introduction to DL was the movie, so that explains why it took me so long to get around to reading the actual series, but MAN!! -- am I glad I finally did.
The start of this book is fairly slow & dry, but necessary to set up the DL-verse. Once you get past the prologue & the relative slow-going of the first couple of chapters, it's a really gripping read.
The introduction of so many characters at once is generally a hindrance, yet the story manages to do so without cluttering the plot. Also, the fact that these characters are fully-developed helps out as well.
The thing that grabbed me about PILGRIMAGE TO HELL is that the story took me to a place I didn't expect. The whole scenario with the redoubts & the gateways caught me completely by surprise & made me immediately jump (pardon the pun) to the next book.
A fine start to what -- so far -- has been a surprisingly good series.
Great start to the saga
So this is how it all began. One of the chief pleasures of this book is the interest in reading the introductions of so many elements which became the bedrock of the series: Ryan Cawdor and J B Dix; how Ryan met Kyrsty; first appearance of the Ceberus Redoubt; their discovery of Doc and the first teleport chamber. Doc in particular is quite a different man here, much more vague and verging on madness at time, with only flashes of the more heroic character he would become. I also enjoyed learning first hand about the Trader, the enigmatic character referred to in other novels.
Considering the later Deathlands (and Outlanders) novels are unafraid to drop in a big chunk of backstory at the drop of a hat, its notable how much more organic the backgrounds of these characters are sketched in. In fact by the end of the novel, all the regulars still have unanswered questions, be it Doc's origin and odd knowledge, Ryan's past or Kyrsty' mutant powers. The answers to these are barely hinted at.
It's a very well written adventure and unapologetically tough. The action set pieces are excellent. Gory deaths have always been a part of this world but this book is also unsettlingly sadistic in places, with both torture and bestiality, (though the latter is talked about rather than depicted) The frontier town of Mocsin is as hellish a town as ever described in a book. Human mutants also have a higher profile in this novel than other Deathlands books I've read. In all this origin novel is actually one of the best novels I've read in the range so far and I'm looking forward to the other early titles I've found.
Definitely a good read/listen.
My first experience with this book is the unabriged audio version. It is an excelent way to be introduced into the realm of deathlands as it gives great a great introduction. The characters are realistic in that they follow the one true law of mankind "survive" there is a decency to the characters that is unexpected in such a harsh land. the story overall is well put together and indicaticve of things to come. There are a few rough points mostly dialoge (audio version) where it doesnt seem any person would ever say those lines. but overall it is a 10 in my book
Pligrimage To Hell
I finished PTH last weekend for the third time (last time was 1988 ) . I had forgotten a lot about that book, and as I was reading it I realized that the series seemed to start going in on direction then change and head off in another direction with JL writing it. It was a fast read except the prologue which was so boring that I still can't figure out how (at 15 or 16 years of age the first time I read it) I managed to have the attention span to stick with the book after the first 3 pages. I think this time through it took me almost a day to read the prologue because I kept putting it down. That and I think I was reading during commercial breaks in Enterprise and Sopranos. Anyway I still love the book, but I did notice many errors like the reference to a 454CP. Colt pistol (page 284 for anyone who cares) instead of 45ACP. which is what that pistol fires. Oddly enough that error made it into the Audio book which I also listened to (always staying ahead in the book of where I was in the tape) these last 2 weeks on my drive to and from work. I think I was able to tell where they changed authors, chapter 11 page 294, does anyone know if I am right? Over all I loved the book but would only give it an 8. Thanks Mahal Kita Douglas .
pilgrimage to greatness
This is one of the most original series, ever
It is also copied again, and again movie such as.
THE ARRIVAL where I saw my first implo grenade.
SLIDERS like the first Mat-Trans
Stargate SG1 the second Mat-trans.
and many more,,,
if it werent for this pilot novel there wouldn't BE a series.
now, these others will not admit where they got their ideas , but maybe?
Just started re reading the series after 15 odd years. Still great. Really good story line to introduce all the characters and makes me want to plow through the rest of the books.
What I have to say!!!
This is the 3rd Deathland book i read and its great.....Its nice to know how everything started. The only thing that doesnt give it a ten is that the trader lleft and the slow start!
PILGRIMAGE TO THE BEST SERIES EVER!!
by One Eye Chills
What more can you say about this awesome start of an ever-growing series? The 1st book here is just classic stuff all by itself.
As far as I'm concerned, this novel alone rates up there in instant classic status with such greats as Burroughs, Robert E. Howard, to just name a few.
Pilgrimage to Hell was a wild ride and a breakthrough read for me personally. I remember reading about it way back in early '86 on a back cover of a Bolan book. I knew instantly that I was gonna buy and read this one with much anticipation.
Deathlands was fresh and new in its vision that greatly surpassed other post-holocaust novels before it.
And there have been some great ones out there!
But Deathlands in my estimation beats them all hands down. I have read this novel 3 times, and eagerly await to re-read it again each and every time. Thank God there was a visionary couple of writers out there named Jack Adrian and Laurence James.
I miss them both greatly and with each and every book that I get.
This book is the first one in the series. Hands-down this one set the scene, it introduces characters, plots, schemes, you name it, it has it. I could not put it down.
the start of it all
how cant say "umm this isnt the best book" This book sets up the entire series! its action packed and explains a hell of a lot about the series (duhh!) The first.....nothing more has to be said!
Awesome... started it all
Although this was not the first Deathlands book that I read, I somewhat understood the story, but now had the chance to find out what really happened on that crisp January day of 2001.  Jack Adrians' prologue was a story unto itself with how it all happens, from the Russian terrorists to what happened to animal life after "skydark."  He then starts off the story with the seer ,Reacher, and the pack leader, McCandless, and the other two goons who are off to find the hidden enclavement buried somewhere in the Darks.  That journey leads to that Scaley leader who was eying the Traders' war wags.  I can see it like this:  the Scaley guy is watching this impressive convoy, and in that convoy, we see a group of determined men and women lead by the Trader while they listened to the KISS song "War Machine".  Of course, another great part of the book was when Doc was introduced while being in the watchful eyes of Cort Strasser.  Towards the end of the book when it said: neither the man in the white feather, nor the Trader was ever seen again, and Deathlands' fans all over screamed nooooooooo!!  Then the epilogue, Ryan opens his eye.  Great start to the greatest book series ever!!!!!!!!
This book is simply awesome, its a must to start the series if you want the background of Ryan, it starts at the end of his run with the Trader, its simply a 10, its that dame good!! If you are a fan of Deathlands, or are new to this world, you simply have to get this book..
It kicks off a new enemy that is a persistent problem for Ryan and co..
It is also the intro of Krysty and Doc.. (and wow did Doc have it bad) A must read!!
Everyone else summed it up...
NOTE: I am reviewing the GraphicAudio Unabridged CD version.
There is not a lot I can add to this.
I love the mix of the War Wag days with the MatTrans discovery. Having listened to Encounter 1st, there wasn't a lot of surprise for me in the end though....
The first and one of the best
by The Phantom
This book introduces the main characters that continue in this long running series. Ryan Cawdor, who has been scarred from a fight with his brother, has one eye, Krysty Wroth is his girlfriend, who has a touch of mutant powers due to the radiation that covers much of the land. And his friend, JB Dix, a gun expert, find themselves in a mutant infested land where the nuclear bombs had devestated the land 100 years earlier.
They rescue a strange old man, Doc Tanner, who joins the party, and has many secrets about his strange past.
They discover a gateway left over from the pre nuke time that is capable of sending people to other gateways around the country. Much of the series is based on the party wandering from these gateways and fighting mutant monsters, and confronting power crazy Barons who have taken over small pockets of civilization.
A pretty cool book, I liked it.