Blood Binds the Pack is the second volume in Alex Wells’ Hob Raveni series.
In the previous volume, Hob Raveni and the Ghost Wolves achieved the near-impossible: they assassinated Mr. Green, one of TransRift’s psionic-adept Weathermen. But that was not the end of the story. TransRift is determined to crush the resistance and take total control of Tanegawa’s World. They have sent a new enforcer: Mr. Yellow. Hob and the Wolves were lucky to kill one Weatherman. Can they kill two?
TransRift believes that the human population of Tanegawa’s World is there only to serve TransRift’s goals. The laborers get dangerous work for poor pay; Transrift gets the profits. Any of the canaille who dare to complain will likely be silenced by a bullet in the head. Union organizers? Definitely dead.
TransRift has vast resources. It fields its own mercenary army and controls a corps of eldritch Weathermen. Tanegawa’s World can field only a motley crew of miners, farmers, and mercenaries (the Ghost Wolves). Oh yes, and some witches, people with abilities ranging from pyrokinesis to mind control.
Weathermen and witches are on opposite sides, but they may be two sides of the same coin. They seem to draw their powers from the same mysterious source.
Mr. Yellow is determined to find that source, to have it for his very own. His minions, the Weathermen, will cheerfully sacrifice every person on the planet if that will help them find and control the source.
Other reviewers have compared this book to the movie Fury Road. I’ve never seen that, so I probably shouldn’t comment. But having read about Fury Road, I have the impression the baddies in Fury Road prefer to oppress women. Transrift is equal opportunity evil. Anyone, male or female or whatever, anyone who can be worked to death in a mine is fodder for TransRift.
Why is it that there’s so much recent SF that frets about the rights of workers? Suddenly, it’s no longer acceptable to round up the poors to work them to death in mines. Given that labor unions are close to dead on the ground, it’s hard to see why anyone cares about the proletariat. It is a puzzlement.
Because I know that the author, Alex Wells, is interested in geology, I am waiting for the series to eventually reveal that magic is actually just advanced science of some sort (as happened with Charlie Stross’ Family Trade novels). But I suspect that this may not be the correct perspective from which to interrogate this text. The book is one part science fantasy to one part space western. Plausibility isn’t the point: a fast-paced tale of the good guys beating the black hats is.
As is typical of many space-westerns1, conflict resolution by sudden death (including sudden mass death) is a thing. If this is not your thing, look elsewhere. If, however, you’ve been looking for something like the Colorado Coalfield War IN SPAAACE WITH EXTRA ADDED PSIONICS! then this may be what you want.
1: But no Native American analogs in this space western.