Ryan Cawdor and his friends allow themselves to be hired as security for a wagon train of poor, unworldly farmers. The farmers are heading for Babyville where, according to a teenage girl who claims to be 76 years old, a literal fountain of youth has been discovered. The gang are suspicious, but in their grim world, even the faintest hope seems worth investigating. However fighting across the dangers of the wasteland is only the beginning of their troubles.
I thought this was a very entertaining adventure, punctuated by several excellent action scenes, particularly the fight with the mutant hogs and Jak's coming over all Jackie Chan on some security guards. It invokes a feeling of the wild west in its frontier days and it is all the better for that.
Because the world of Death Lands has science fiction elements to it like teleporting, there's an intriguing edge to the book's big question as to whether there really is a fountain of youth. We're on a journey that could have any number of legitimate outcomes. Without spoiling anything the revelation was a surprise to me, my mind had been working to an entirely different conclusion.
All the regulars are well served, especially Doc Tanner. He gets some parts of his past life filled in to emotive effect. Ryan's musings on his brother are also interesting. The bonds of affection between our heroes is what stops these books from becoming unbearably bleak. A sub-plot involving a dead baby is particularly grim. Having said that, this entry ends on a more upbeat note than expected.
It's bloodsoaked action all the way, with extra gore from some nightmare sequences for good measure. It also helps that the back cover blurb doesn't spoil the plot this time!