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on 6 December 2014
This is, without a doubt, in the top five 'indie' books I've ever read, and one of the best books I've read in a few years, full stop.

Right. I don't like Sci-Fi. I have zero interest in spaceships and mutant beings. I do, however, love the whole post-apocalyptic thing, which is what made me want to read this book, as well as its excellent title. I am so glad I made that choice!

Basic plot: a motley crew of soldiers are sent from one planet to save the president of a second planet. President has lain in cryogenic suspension since an end-of-world nuclear war a hundred years before.

Dylan Morgan is one hell of a writer. Each character comes alive immediately; we are given no description, physical or otherwise, but I could tell EXACTLY what each person was like almost as soon as they were introduced - a rare talent indeed. The Deadlands is told mostly from the point of view of Lane, a former soldier and current bounty hunter, but also with guest appearances from other members of the team and connected characters, including one chapter from the point of view of one of the mutants. Very, very clever indeed, and actually put a different slant on the whole thing.

Morgan's writing is clear, concise, never rambling. He understands dramatic impact, suspense, pathos, emotion, though I suspect all this is executed automatically, as it is with those who can write this well. If you like this sort of book you will LOVE this, and I think you will even if, like me, you suspect it might not be your sort of thing. Why? Because Morgan realises something important. A truly great novel is all about the CHARACTERS, not about the plot. The plot is terrific, too, but this story is about human nature: love, loss, greed, betrayal, despair, optimism, friendship, family and strength.

Highly, HIGHLY recommended. I suspect I might be raving about this book for quite a while!
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on 12 January 2015
The story begins on the planet Hemera, in the capital city of Magna, where the president, his family and key members of his staff are being cryogenically frozen before Hemera is completely destroyed by a nuclear war. A century later, on Erebus, a distress signal is received from Hemera. A small group of operatives are chosen to travel to Hemera to investigate, find the President and help to restore the planet. Intelligence reports state the planet is uninhabited and barren, without the existence of any life forms, so they should encounter no difficulties.

Lane, a disgraced former soldier, believes he is being given a final chance, albeit by the corrupt Colonel Paden, to clear his name while escaping the death penalty for a trumped-up charge of murder used to coerce him into joining the mission. The team destined for Hemera have no reason to doubt Paden’s assurance the assignment will be straightforward and without complications. Nevertheless, it becomes apparent immediately on entry into Hemera’s atmosphere, all is not destined to go as smoothly as the team hoped.

The once beautiful and thriving Hemera is a desolate wasteland peopled by gangs of marauders and mutants brought vividly to life by the clear and descriptive writing. Dylan Morgan makes it so easy to visualise the group travelling through the rubble, debris and ruined buildings, fighting the bandits to reach their destination. Their fear and revulsion for what awaits them in Magna. And their ultimate fight for survival against all odds and the most horrific of antagonists.

This is a very well crafted story with perfect pacing, the drama unfolds with consistency to keep the narrative flowing effortlessly. The characters are well-developed and real, Lane especially, but all the personalities are drawn brilliantly, whether you love or loathe them. I think this story covers every eventuality with action, of which there is plenty, greed, deception, horror and sadness. Balancing out the negatives are loyalty, a touch of romance and truthfulness. And the promise of satisfactory karma for the villain of the piece.

It’s graphic, gruesome, gritty….and great!
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on 6 June 2016
I’ve read some fabulous reviews about this book and so was eager to get my hands on it, but none of these reviews prepared me for what I was about to read.

I’m already a huge Dylan Morgan fan; his horror books are not to be read without a light on, and his novella, October Rain, was an explosive sci-fi novella. With the promise of a sequel to The Dead Lands on the horizon, I jumped at the chance to read this post-apocalyptic thriller.

Lane is a bounty hunter and not afraid to live his life as a hired gun. He clears the streets of Erebus of the cheating, murdering scum and gets paid for it. When he is forced to re-join the army or face the death penalty, he is thrown into a situation beyond his control. Sent on a mission to the destroyed and desolate twin planet of Hemera, the crew are told that they are answering a distress signal from a president who was placed in a cryogenic tube one hundred years ago.

When you go to watch a movie at the cinema, you have the big screen and surround sound making it a truly involved atmosphere. Reading The Dead Lands was a similar experience. Dylan’s writing is highly descriptive, and he makes you feel like you are there, in the thick of the action, running for your life.

The characters are such a wonderful mix of personalities, but they fit perfectly together. Ludger grated on my nerves, as he should, but I instantly warmed to Lane, Reese, and Blaine. You can’t help but urge them all on to safety as you race through the book at breakneck speed. Of course, being safe isn’t what sells a good thriller, so there are many gasp-out-loud moments.

Dylan does a fabulous job of creating his mutated horrors that creep from the darkness of Hemera’s fallen city. If this book is ever made into a film, I will be first in line at the box office.

The ending blew my mind, and I had a shell-shocked look on my face for most of the day. I can’t wait to read the sequel!

I read The Dead Lands as a member of Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team.
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on 24 May 2016
This review is written on behalf of Rosie’s Books Review Team. Thanks to Rosie Amber and to the author, Dylan J. Morgan for offering me a free copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.
I recently read and reviewed another one of Dylan Morgan’s novels Flesh (see here), a horror novel, and I was impressed by the book. Another member of the review team (hi, Terry!) recommended The Dead Lands and I took note. The author is preparing the second book in the series The Dead City and kindly offered the reviewers a chance to catch up with the updated version of the first novel in the series. And I’m happy I followed the recommendation.
The Dead Lands is a post-apocalyptic vision of a world, or rather, a mission where a group of army officers from the planet Erebus are sent to rescue the president of a planet, Hemera who’s been in a cryogenic state for a hundred years following a nuclear debacle. What at first sight seems to be an elite group sent on an easy mission turns up to be anything but.
The book is told in the third person, and each chapter follows the point of view of a different character, and that includes the president of the planet, Lane, who is the only one of the members of the team we get to know before the mission (a disgraced ex-army officer turned bounty hunter and the one who perhaps it’s closest to a hero figure in the standard sense), a variety of the team members, people they meet at the new planet, and many more. It is difficult to say if any of the characters are the true protagonist or the hero (some are easier to empathise with than others, but all seem to have motives and reasons for their behaviours that are far from straight forward). From that perspective, the novel is very democratic and even characters (?) with no redeeming features, or possibly not human, are given a voice (or a consciousness). That makes for a very unique reading experience, one at times uncomfortable and surprising. Although I don’t play computer games, it feels as if one was living in one and in a mission with the characters, with the possibility of playing different parts (although not of your own choosing).
The book is dynamic and fast paced, with no lengthy descriptions (some can be more detailed like the characteristics of the weaponry), and there’s plenty of action, fights, and scary moments. There isn’t a lot of world building, and the reader is thrown straight into a world (or two worlds) that’s understandable if scary at times. The world of The Dead Lands is at the same time familiar (particularly the corruption and morals, or lack of them) but alien. What would our world be like after a nuclear war? I don’t want to give away the whole story, but let’s say that it’s not called The Dead Lands for nothing.
The novel is a great example of the genre. It has a gripping plot, characters that are complex and fallible (some with backstories we’d like to know more about), nothing and nobody is what s/he seems to be, there is betrayal, greed, corruption, cowardice, surprises galore, horror and a world that’s scarier because it’s uncannily easy to recognise. Ultimately, the question is, who is the real enemy? The one outside, or the fragmented loyalties and lies that are the quicksand on which the mission, and the whole world, is built?
I recommend this novel to lovers of the genre, but also to those who love a fast paced story full of surprises, and are willing to push their reading experience beyond comfort and ease.
Ah, and after reading the tasters of the next novel in the series, I can hardly wait.
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on 11 December 2014
Publication date: 1st September 2014

Publisher: Author

ISBN: 9781499242096

Rating: 4½/5

Synopsis:
Lane is a bounty hunter for Erebus' corrupt government, his life a constant battle against past demons. Framed for murder, Lane is offered one option to avoid the death penalty: rejoin the army and partake in a covert operation to the apocalyptic world of Hemera, Erubus' sister planet. A century after the nuclear conflict that ended mankind's third age, Hemera has now sent a distress signal to it's sister: the president has awoken and he's calling for aid. Early intelligence reports indicate the mission will be straightforward, that Hemera is a vacant shell with all forms of life and hostility extinguished. They are wrong. Bandits control the dead lands, but there are things much worse waiting for Lane and his squadron once they enter the city walls. Having lived with the nightmares of his shattered past, Lane must now face the mutated horrors of mankind's future in the toughest battle of his life.

Review:
To say I was hooked from the first chapter would be an understatement. This story really grabbed my attention and pulled me in from the very outset. Lead character Lane is well written and endearing; I was rooting for him from the very start of his journey and experienced a myriad of emotions as I travelled alongside him for the duration of his treacherous mission.
Hemera's desolate landscape springs to life with Morgan's perfectly descriptive prose, the planet's inhabitants scarily so. Alongside the action, there are some unexpected and wonderfully touching displays of humanity.
My only criticism is that there are a few grammatical errors here and there, but this is my pedantic proofreader side butting in. That aside, I was utterly absorbed, reading until the early hours, determined to reach the dramatic conclusion.
This book will not disappoint - buy it now!

*I'll admit, I'd not heard of the author until this book was recommended to me by a friend. I get recommendations all the time, but am often disappointed, so tend to approach with trepidation. Once I'd read the synopsis of this book, however, I bought it without hesitation - a very rare thing; as a reviewer I usually receive almost all my books free*
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on 11 August 2014
The Dead Lands is part one of Dylan Morgan’s story that takes place 100 years after a nuclear war on the planet Hemera. It’s fun, fast-paced military/sci-fi and horror with mutants and the low life under belly of a society that’s lost its way.

Erebus another planet in the system receives a distress signal from Hemera. A small team of 20 hand-picked soldiers is sent to Hemera with the mission of investigating the signal. The team are to find the former president, who has been in stasis, and secure the area. Erebus will help him restore his world; for a price.

Part of the team is Lane, a government hit man/ bounty hunter and disgraced former soldier who is forced back into the Army for this mission. Then there’s Reese, the woman who was the love of Lanes life until she left him after he was involved with a nasty incident which left her brother dead.

This mission is a disaster before they even land on the planet; Lane, our main character is hated by almost everyone on the ship. His hell as only just begun.

The team were told the planet was uninhabited—no life existed, as soon as the soldiers step foot on its surface they find they are not alone, and we watch as the team slowly dwindles.

The Dead Lands is a book with good writing and a nice plot; my only complaint is that it is very receptive. Example: We are told numerous amounts of times that the war was 100 years ago, but we keep getting told about the 100 years’ worth of dust. For me, if the repetition was cut down it would be a 5 star read.
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on 1 August 2014
One hundred years after nuclear war devastated Hemera, its President sends a distress signal to its sister planet, Erebus. Hemera’s president has awakened and needs help. Lane, a government hit man, is forced into a military mission to Hemera to find and rescue the president. Lane is thrown into the mix with twenty other soldiers, many of whom despise him–including a former love interest.

Told the planet was uninhabited—no life existed—the soldiers stepped foot on its surface to find they were not alone.

Mankind existed–but so did something else.

Morgan nailed it with The Dead Lands. This book has everything: great characters—both loved and despised, a touch of romance, a touch of humor, a whole lot of blood, gore, guts, brains, and my favorite—bone fragments.

The action was almost nonstop, and absolutely teeth-clenching and nail-biting. The author added just the perfect amount of down time between action sequences to allow the reader to take a deep breath and get ready for more.

Morgan’s writing is beautifully descriptive. Not only is he well versed in describing carnage, some of the scenes he paints for the readers are absolutely gorgeous. One of my favorite lines was, “Water droplets fell like stars discarded by the arrival of early morning sunlight.”
Simply poetic …

The author has an uncanny knack of pulling the reader directly into the mind of his creations. I wanted to cry, puke, and pee my pants right along with the characters.

The Dead Lands is a shining example of how excellent writing and a great plot come together to make a fantastic book.

Guys, this has everything you’ll ever ask for in a book. Ladies, there is a love story hidden in its pages.

I give this one 5 stars. If I could give it more, I would.

I highly recommend this one.
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on 10 April 2015
Lane is a trained soldier, turned bounty hunter after being discharged dishonourably from the army but they want him back for a special operation and blackmail him in to taking his place with the other elite soldiers. Sent to Hemera on a mission to save the cryogenically frozen President in accordance with the agreement made a hundred years earlier between the two planets, Lane finds himself in a post-nuclear world where what is left isn't planning to serve tea and cakes to their neighbours. For the team their mutual distrust of each other, egos and over confidence soon intermingle with the realisation that this one is going to be a killer of a mission.

Dylan J Morgan takes a bunch of humanoid soldiers from another world, throws in some mutants and blasts his way through a story containing a classically corrupted leader whose smugness I really wanted dealt with, preferably with mutant involvement. It is a real page turner of a novel and I really bought in to the characters and their welfare.

Although slightly more graphically violent than my usual choice of reading material I found it easy to overlook as the writing and the storyline was superbly crafted. This is the first book I have read from this author and I will be going back for more.
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on 11 August 2014
'The Dead Lands' is the story of government enforcer Lane as he is sent off with a team of soldiers on a rescue mission to a reportedly uninhabited planet. On arrival they find out they are not alone and that's when the trouble begins.

The planet the characters are sent to is a dangerous place and it's not long before they find this out. The story is fairly fast-paced and there is plenty of action and horror as well as a bit of romance, all of which combine to make this a gripping and thoroughly entertaining read. I was quickly caught up in the story, following the characters on their dark and deadly journey and experiencing the shocks and horrors as up close and personally as they did.

'The Dead Lands' is a thrilling action horror tale set on a deadly planet in a dystopian future. Morgan creates fully developed worlds that are so easy to get lost in and this one was just as immersive as his others. I felt like the ending left open the possibility for a second part to the story and I hope that there will be another novel set in this world!

Overall this is an entertaining sci-fi horror novel by a very talented author. If you love sci-fi and horror you should check out this book. Highly recommended!
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on 12 June 2016
Another Dylan J.Morgan book - another thrilling read! A combination of sci-fi, horror, and post-apocalyptic elements, The Dead Lands is a gritty, action-packed novel.

From the beginning, the reader knows the mission to Hemera is expected to fail and it doesn't take long for the characters to realize the same thing - but that doesn't stop them from fighting for survival, making it easy to root for most of them. Some, I was rooting for the mutants to tear into. The novel is full of conflict - not only between the characters themselves, but also with what they encounter on Hemera.

I've always liked this author's writing style - clear and concise, no wasted words and he has a gift for descriptive writing, allowing the reader to picture Hemera and everything the characters experience (the smells are revolting - I don't think these guys got a breath of fresh air throughout the novel).

There's a somewhat surprising twist at the end and I'm glad to know a sequel is in the works. Highly recommended for readers who enjoy sci-fi, thrillers, action, and a touch of horror.

I received a copy of this book through Rosie's Book Review Team in exchange for an honest review.
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