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Monday, October 03, 2011

Ashes of the Earth by Eliot Pattison

Ashes of the Earth is a dystopian novel.  I'm going to make this a short review for two reasons:  I read it over a month ago, and I was disappointed in it.

I've read three of  Pattison's political thrillers about Tibet.  I loved each one.  They were complex and educational and exciting and full of adventure in the Tibetan mountains.  The novels are about a former Chinese investigator who looked too closely at situations he should have overlooked and ends up exiled to a "gulag" in Tibet.  As a prisoner, he becomes influenced by the Buddhists Monks who are his fellow prisoners and also condemned to forced labor.  The Skull Mantra begins the series, and I loved each of the three books in this series that I have read.

For this novel, however, I'm going to resort to a canned review from Publisher's Weekly:

Having successfully portrayed both modern-day Tibet and Colonial America in two series, Edgar-winner Pattison (Eye of the Raven) launches a third with this brilliant if grim mystery set in the 21st century 25 years after global mega-acts of terror have destroyed all U.S. government entities and almost all infrastructure. Hadrian Boone, one of the cofounders of the struggling colony of Carthage, located near the Great Lakes, is one of those who remembers the former world, as the time before the apocalypse is referred to, but he's on the outs with the community's leaders and on the verge of being exiled. The chance discovery of a body triggers a series of events that reintroduces murder and other crimes to a community reliant on 19th-century technology. Boone's efforts to find the truth and what it implies for Carthage's future put him in harm's way time after time. Pattison blends the bleakness of The Road with a well-crafted whodunit plot for another winner.

I didn't really like the feel of the novel and found the protagonist Hadrian Boone too difficult to believe in.  

On the other hand, I'm reminded of how much I admired the Tibetan series.  These novels are long and involved, complex, frightening, thrilling...and show the horrors inflicted on Tibet as the Chinese try to eradicate the Tibetan culture.

Other opinions:  King of the Nerds, Mystery Maven Blog, --these and other reviews I found are all positive.  I'm odd-man-out.

Fiction.  Post-apocalyptic, Dystopian.  2011.  400 pages.


  1. I got Pattison's Skull Mantra or another of his Tibet novels. I'm looking forward to reading it but will skip this one.

  2. I'm often the odd man out, when it comes to books. Most recently, I found The Lantern unbearably dull. Everyone else on the planet seems to love it. I'll probably give it a second chance, but if it doesn't click the second time . . . out the door it goes.

  3. Caroline - Skull Mantra is the first one in which the Chinese investigator (can't remember his name)finds himself imprisoned with the monks. I loved it--hope you do!

    Nancy - Oh, dear. The Lantern is on my wish list. But it is true that sometimes we are not going to like books that others love. In fact, it happens pretty often!