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By The Feet Of Men Grant Price Main

"By the Feet of Men" Book Review

Written by Tony Jones

Published by Cosmic Egg Books

By The Feet Of Men Grant Price Large

Written by Grant Price
2019, 256 pages, Fiction
Released on 30th August, 2019

Review:

Post-apocalyptic fiction with a global warming theme is a crowded marketplace, but Grant Price’s By the Feet of Men is well worth a closer look, even if you feel you might have been here before. This potent mix of fast-paced action thriller, set in a world which seems to be breathing its last, and bleak survival novel has an outstanding range of characters, clever observations and a very well-drawn society in which resources have diminished beyond exhaustion.

Grant Price's vision of the future is an incredibly bleak one, and although no exact dates are mentioned, it’s probably within a century of today. There is no new technology and one of the vans driven age is described as, “...she’s at least twice as old as each of us.” The cars and vans which do still function have been adapted to utilise a type of rechargeable battery for fuel, as gasoline has long since dried up. The author develops his intricate vision of the future nice and slowly, slyly dropping clues on how mankind ended up on the brink of extinction. Drip feeling revelations in this style was a real strength of the novel and the level of detail, punctured with clever observations, made it very easy to be sucked into the author’s parched world.

Little background is given on what caused the ‘Change’ a massive series of environmental events which led to the increase in temperatures and vast areas being reclaimed by the oceans and nature. At a certain point even the most tolerant Scandinavian countries closed their borders to refugees and started to shoot those who attempted to cross. By the Feet of Men is set in Germany and when the story opens it is clear that there is little left to be scavenged or salvaged, money is worthless, and everyone lives in a barter-style economy where the most valuable things to trade are water and hemp. Effectively mankind has regressed and survivors live in shanty makeshift communities which survive by their own set of rules, many of which involve pain or death should you break them.

There are few vehicles still running and those that do are used for transporting trade between surviving settlement; these ‘Runners’ are under constant threat of attack. Should you be caught, death is certain and as cannibalism is rife, you will probably also be eaten. There is a powerful scene where, after a death, the survivors wonder whether they had buried their friend deep enough. If not, he would be dug up and end up as dinner. If you like books with car chases, you will love By the Feet of Men; much of the story is told from the road and the brutal fight for survival as the team heads into dangerous mountainous country. Even though the plot has little in the way of similarities to Mad Max 2, I could not help recalling the legendary film in which transportation is also key and how the cars are reinforced to defend themselves from attackers.

Ultimately this is a book with hope and the possibility that there might be a way of reversing the terminal climate change facing the planet. To help facilitate that possibility, the drivers of four powerful vehicles must make an incredibly dangerous journey from Germany to Italy where there is a rumour that an underground scientific community has developed a machine. Cassady and Ghazi drive a seven-meter truck called ‘Warspite’ (or the ‘Old Lady’) and tell the story from alternating points of view along with three other truckers who agree to undertake the perilous journey.

For the most part this is a thrilling journey, as death can truly come at any moment. Travelling from Germany to Italy, and the ordeals they face, does become slightly repetitive, but the story still moves at a decent lick. Along the way we learn the rules of the road, many of which are both fascinating and exceptionally well thought out. For example, there are ‘Watched Roads’ where travellers who use them have to pay a toll (or die) to the Agis who monitor them but guarantee your safety if you use them. Another favourite is using tolls and secret codes to tap into analogue radio broadcasts, which provides news of regime shifts and dangers on the road. Imagine if there was no internet…

If the world is going to end, what do you have to lose? Nothing. Readers will be rooting for Cassady and Ghazi in no time; both are terrific leads, particularly Cassady, who suffers from his own inner demons and crisis of confidence. Throw in a full range of colourful support characters and you have an uneasy alliance which decides to follow Cassady into hell for a white-knuckle ride which is very entertaining to be a backseat passenger on.

It is easy to understand why the truck drivers like to stay on the move, as the settlements, including Verne and Prestige, are horrific places and after bartering, the threat of a double-cross is never far away. Grant Price spent a lot of time describing the physical state of the trucks and this adds an extra dimension to the proceedings and these vehicles, including Orion and Silkworm, are presented as characters as real as the men and women.

By the Feet of Men is a thoughtful and inventive addition to the environmental apocalyptic genre. It does not sensationalise the future, nor dip into end-of-the-world clichés; instead Grant Price paints a vivid picture, with believable characters, and it was very enjoyable to hitch a ride with. Just remember to strap on both your seatbelt and bulletproof vest.

Grades:

Overall: Fourstars By The Feet Of Men Grant Price Small
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About The Author
Tony Staff
Author: Tony Jones
Staff Writer
Such is Tony’s love of books, he has spent well over twenty years working as a school librarian where he is paid to talk to kids about horror. He is a Scotsman in exile who has lived in London for over two decades and credits discovering SE Hinton and Robert Cormier as a 13-year-old for his huge appetite for books. Tony previously spent five years writing The Greatest Scrum That Ever Was, a history book very few people bought. In the past he has written for Horror Novel Reviews and is a regular contributor to The Ginger Nuts of Horror website, often specialising in YA horror.
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