Post-apocalyptic series by Patrick Tilley about the war between the totalitarian, underground-dwelling people of The Amtrak Federation and their chosen enemy, the primitive Mutes living on the surface.

The Federation government teaches that the Mutes are subhuman scum whose forbears brought about the Holocaust, and who still contaminate the surface with radioactivity coming from their bodies. The blue-sky world will not be habitable before the Mutes have been wiped off the face of the earth. To reclaim their rightful property, the Federation has started a massive military action, building enormous armoured wagon trains equipped with powerful weapons and high tech instruments. Each train has its own fleet of solar powered Skyhawk aircraft for long-distance scouting.

Our Hero, Brickman, graduates as a wingman and goes out with a wagon train as a Tracker to fight the Mutes. The train suffers a series of freak accidents and mishaps, giving rise to mutterings among the crew about Mute magic. Soon after, Brickman is shot down by a Mute crossbow and captured, which in itself is remarkable, since they always kill their enemies on sight. They cure his wounds and he is gradually accepted as a member of the tribe, though technically a prisoner.

Through conversations and observations he begins to find out that he, and all of the Federation, are living a lie. According to what he's be taught, he should start rotting if he is touched by a Mute, but clearly he's not. Magic doesn't exist, but then how to explain some of the things he sees these people do? Primitive? Yes. Different? Definitively. But subhuman? Clearly, the Federation government is misinformed. But do they want the truth?

One thing I like about this series is that it is one long story divided into multiple books, not many different stories about the same people, like some other series I've read. There is a minimum of re-introductions and messing around with making the books "independent" -- each book just continues where the one before left off. Also, the author has managed to combine magic and sci-fi in a (IMHO) wonderful way, combining my two favorite genres. In short, wonderful reading!

The Amtrak Wars consists of:

  1. Cloud Warrior
  2. First Family
  3. Iron Master
  4. Blood River
  5. Death-Bringer
  6. Earth-Thunder

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