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Paul O Williams Books In Order

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Publication Order of Gorboduc Books

The Gifts of the Gorboduc Vandal (1989)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Man from Far Cloud (2006)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of The Pelbar Cycle Books

The Breaking of Northwall (1981)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Ends of the Circle (1981)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Dome in the Forest (1981)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Fall of the Shell (1982)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Ambush of Shadows (1983)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Song of the Axe (1984)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Sword of Forbearance (1985)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Collections

The Edge of the Woods (1968)Description / Buy at Amazon
Growing in the Rain (1991)Description / Buy at Amazon
These Audacious Maples (2007)Description / Buy at Amazon

Paul O Williams was an American author of science fiction and fantasy books. He is best known for his Pelbar Cycle book series set in North America approximately a thousand years after the time of fire when the world is almost depopulated. Pelbar Cycle novels follow gradual reconnection of the different human cultures which developed and most of the action takes place along the Upper Mississippi River.

Williams is also known as a writer of Japanese short poems including haiku, senryu, and tanka. Additionally, he also wrote several essays on haiku form in English and 1975; the author invented the term ‘tontoism” which means the writing haiku with missing articles.

The Breaking of Northwall

1000 years after the nuclear holocaust. In the US, few people have survived the war and subsequent epidemics. Their descendants have again become savages who roam the vast and partially radioactive contaminated land as a hunter or entrench themselves – as in Pelbar – in small fortified settlements. Gradually, cultural centers are being formed, and the world is again strengthening. On dangerous expeditions, one begins to explore the post-nuclear wilderness of the American continent and meets deadly opponents.

To the first volume: Jestak returns after his escape from slavery in his homeland and does everything possible to unite the neighboring tribes because, in the north, a powerful opponent emerged. This has rediscovered the secret of gunpowder and threatens to conquer the Pelbar cities and enslave their inhabitants.

The cover shows the Northwall and the Heart River below him during a raid. Here and there you can see more details that are described in the book. It is quite a nice cover, with pleasant colors and the spine adorns the same picture, smaller with title and number of rows.
The writing style of Paul O. Williams, or rather, the effect of his writing style can be described as calm and relaxed but not always a light meal because in the beginning you are thrown into a completely different world and must first deal with it. The first half of the novel is an interesting long story that sets the room for tension increase as the story advances.

The protagonist in this series opener is Jestak, and he belongs to the people of Pelbar. The Pelbar live secluded in their walls of stone and have at first glance little in common with the various nomadic tribes in their area. Also, only the women rule in Pelbar, and otherwise, they are closed to strangers.

But Jestak is different from his people. He was sent out to complete training with the Innanigen but returns years later. He wraps himself in silence, looks feral and is tattooed with the Sentani’s sign. The Pelbar send him to Northwall, and there Jestak begins to tell his story to the Council, over several days. From that point on it becomes very interesting that we get to know the other tribes, like Shumai and Sentani, who are moving across the lands.

But Jestak tells much more than the Pelbar knows and then their worldview starts to crumble. Together with the puzzled Pelbar, we get to know Jestak and his story, what happened in Innanigen, his imprisonment, his escape and how he managed to make friends with the other tribes. The author provides a fascinating picture of the different cultures that are very similar in some ways, and you wonder what exactly happened then that the peoples are so far apart.

After this part, the right action of the book begins by being in the middle of the action and getting from one event to another because some dangers are waiting for the Pelbar and daring actions. Also, Jestak and his friends find on their long journeys old ruins from a long forgotten time, which only hint at how the world looked before the “big fire.”

To conclude, Paul O, Williams provides an exciting prelude to the series in his first volume. It is an imaginative, adventurous novel that revolves around the different cultures, their quarrels, differences and living together. In the background stand the riddle of the “great fire” and the origin of the people.

The Ends of the Cycle

Women rule Pelbar. The men have to obey and do lesser jobs. But Stel, a young craftsman, is not ready to submit. He prefers the freedom of the prairies, despite the dangers that threaten everywhere. Stel wanders west, crosses the mountains, in search of the legendary western sea, and encounters alien peoples, and utterly strange traces of the distant technical past.

In the second book in the series, we again accompany a Pelbar, Stel and Arhoe, a Dahmen, on their travels. The two are married, much to the displeasure of their family, which makes Stel’s life hell. The Dahmen expect him to be completely submissive and obedient, according to their culture, but it is not that easy to break. He is from the beginning a strong, likable character who cannot get down. When they want to kill him, he seizes the opportunity and flees from Pelbar and leaves the woman he loves.

Pleased by Jestak’s adventures, he also wants to see more of the alien world and embarks on a dangerous journey to the West. Compared to the first book and the tribes presented there, they are more exciting here and differ much more from the Pelbar and other already known communities. On his travels, Stel encounters some interesting, manageable characters and the theme of the former world plays a bigger role. There are many more hints and insights that put the past more in the foreground than before. Additionally, we also experience the world from Arhoe point of view. On her way, the future mother encounters some dangers, but she finds a suitable companion in the Shumai Hagan. Both characters make a change in the course of the plot and visibly grow with the newly gained experiences, but their affection for each other remains.

For readers who love the cultures and their confusions in the first book in the Pelbar Cycle series will get their money’s worth with The Ends of the Circle besides, this second series installment adds more exciting moments and events as we now pursue two storylines with wonderful characters.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Paul O Williams

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