Review – Battle Circle: Neq the Sword by Piers Anthony

Posted: November 24, 2015 in Fantasy, Post apocalypse
Tags: , , ,

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Piers Anthony completes his Battle Circle trilogy by closing the circular nature of the novels with another tale of adventure, loss and redemption. This time, the main focus lies with Neq the Sword – one of the sub-tribe chiefs of the empire. After Sos (aka The Master, aka The Nameless One) destroyed the Mountain (Helicon) the Empire fell into ruins as he set out in pursuit of Var, thinking his protege had killed his natural daughter. Neq, a warrior of the Circle, is horrified at the decline of the culture of the nomads; the failing of honour and freedoms. He works out that this is because the ‘crazies’ had stopped providing the means for the nomads to continue their way of life. In turn, he realises this is because the Mountain – where the crazies got their supplies for the nomads – was destroyed.

His mission is to remake the Mountain and thereby reinstitute the nomad culture and the honour of the Circle. In quite a weird way, we learn Neq is a virgin though a formidable warrior. His mission, given him by the crazies, is to go to the Mountain and make a report. In this he is support by a Miss Smith. The two fall in love yet tragedy befalls them. In an unlikely passage, Piers Anthony describes a horrifying gang rape of Miss Smith followed by the torture and mutilation of Neq.

He survives, though his hands have been hacked off, and finds a crazy doctor to give him his weapons back. With arms ending in a sword and a pincer he sets about his gruesome revenge. Soon he realises vengeance is empty and returns to his mission of making Helicon whole and bringing honour back to the warrior code. The circle is closed when Neq meets and kills Var before realising that Soli (now Vara) – the young daughter of Sos – is clearly not dead. After some more strange events, Neq eventually ‘pays back his debt’ to Vara by impregnating her with the child Var couldn’t give her, mirroring elements of the first Battle Circle story.

What’s frustrating is that Anthony doesn’t really get down to the bones of the book until the last few chapters. It’s these that were most interesting to me as he goes on to explain the bizarre relationship of cultures between the nomads, the crazies and Helicon. It’s here we learn that the remnants of American society created the Mountain to survive the apocalypse and that the crazies are also survivors but ones who interact, help and document the nomad culture. The Mountain wants to preserve science and technology; the crazies want to use it to give the nomads the means to live and evolve with freedom and honour and without the burden of the past. The past which caused the apocalypse.

At it’s heart Battle Circle is an interesting look at how humanity could reinvent itself using the ideas of respect, freedom and combat. Yet it is all wrapped up with stories of love, friendship, vengeance and conflict and, though it’s not as grim as more modern takes on the post-apocalypse genre, Battle Circle is definitely a decent, entertaining trilogy.

My copy
Published by Corgi Books

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