Review – Battle Circle: Sos The Rope by Piers Anthony

Posted: November 7, 2015 in Fantasy, Post apocalypse
Tags: , , ,

America rising from the ashes of its final destruction – the epic story of the savage story for empire and dominance in primitive post-cataclysmic America

Sos The Rope: The kill spirits of the blast were retreating and Sos was pledged to begin an empire, to build a dream – the same dream which had been built so many times, aeons before.

My wish list of books is full of titles I’ve heard something good about but then forgotten what to expect. I knew Piers Anthony’s Battle Circle trilogy was a post-apocalypse novel but, really, it was something more, and something entirely different. Sos The Rope is set a long time after the ‘Blast’, the apocalyptic event that changed everything. One of the key elements in the novel is that this event is slowly explained, showing how this oddly nomadic society was actually spawned from modern America and it’s destruction.

Sos The Rope revolves around three main characters, each one bound to the other’s future. This first meeting between Sol of All Weapons and Sol the Sword (soon to be Sos The Rope) in the Battle Circle sets the tone for the novel. Their meeting, and disagreement, is due to their shared name which a young women bears witness to. The ensuing combat is far from barbaric or vicious (as the back cover quotes would have you believe); instead it is a test of honour and governed by a strict code of conduct. As a result Sos gives up his old name and the right to bear weapons, becoming an advisor of sorts to Sol. Meanwhile, the woman demands that Sol give her a name as well, coercing the victorious warrior into presenting her with his bracelet – a symbol of marriage.

It sets up a complicated triangle between the three: Sos and the woman (Sola as she becomes known) love each other but Sos refuses to make Sol a cuckold. All Sol wants is an empire and tasks Sos to train and instruct warriors indentured to him, forming a huge tribe. Sola, though she loves Sos and bears his child, is tied to Sol due to her desire for position and power. All this is fuel for the engine of the story, helping to explain the landscape, the Battle Circle and the societies that exist alongside each other.

What I found interesting were the ideas behind the plot. The notion that the warriors live this free, nomadic life with disputes of any degree settled by combat – itself ruled by a strict code of honour. Women are equally free to pick and chose men as they like though some of the restrictions placed on them are antiquated as they remain subservient to the warriors. It’s a fairly romantic notion of society but as the book continues it’s counterpointed by the other society – ‘the Crazies’.

The Crazies are modern society. They manufacture the weapons the warriors use, construct tents and equipment and supply foods. In short, they ensure that the warrior culture continues but to what end we don’t really discover. However, Sos is forced into helping a section of the Crazies and, in the end, made to dismantle the empire he helped create. Made into a type of human terminator, Sos is sent out to defeat Sol and end his friend’s reign over the Battle Circle.

For such a short book, so simply written it’s a complex weaving of ideas. Each of the character’s stories reflect upon the notions of honour, family, power and concepts of freedom versus rules, free will against coercion and government. Each wants to fill their own particular void, each hampers yet helps the other and in the end each loses what they treasure most. I’m intrigued with what the author does next in this series and whilst I thought this was to be more pulp fiction than anything, Piers Anthony has surprised me with quite a thoughtful take on post-cataclysm novels.

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