Road Wars
Road Wars
Author Laurence James.
Illustrator Michael Herring
Publication date October, 1994
ISBN 0-373-62523-5
Publication Order
Preceded by
Rider, Reaper
Followed by
Trader Redux

Back CoverEdit

Blazing a perilous trail through the heart of darkness


Emerging out of the ashes of the nuclear apocalypse, no one has been more successful and determined than Ryan Cawdor and his band of warrior survivalists. But if the wasteland's endless miles come between them, the odds for getting back together again -- for their very survival -- are not in their favor.


A cryptic message regarding the long-missing Trader sends Ryan and the Armorer on an odyssey to the Pacific Northwest, away from their base, away from their band of warrior survivalists, away from Krysty Wroth. While Ryan battles the blood-hungry predators of the road, back in New Mexico, Krysty Wroth and the others fight off attacks against their weakened group in an all-out struggle for survival.

In the Deathlands, fate and chance are clashing with frightening force.


The novel is primarily composed of three separate plots, interleaved throughout the course of events.

In the main plot, Ryan Cawdor and J.B. Dix set off for Seattle in an LAV 25, leaving their friends behind at Jak Lauren's farm. Ryan and J.B. intend to meet up with Abe, a friend and formerly employed by their once-leader, Trader. The two had long believed Trader was dead after disappearing into the Colorado mountains, but Abe has since sent word that the Trader is alive. More importantly, Abe's note says that he and the Trader will be waiting to meet Ryan and J.B. near the ruins of Seattle, but only for the next six weeks.

Scant hours into their trip, Ryan and J.B. are stopped by a group of fladgies, called the Slaves of Sin, a religious extremists who practice self-flagellation. The group's leader doesn't just ask for food and supplies, he demands them, earning a denial at gunpoint from the two friends. Ryan and J.B. travel onward, not bothering to kill the group.

Not long after, they pass through the town of Huston Wells, where the locals are less than friendly. They shoot their way through with barely a pause, leaving many dead behind.

Some days later J. B. and Ryan link up with a traveling animal show, run by a woman named Ellie Kissoon and her three daughters. The group heads to Weatherill Springs, and that evening put on a show outside the local bar for the ville's occupants. During the show an audience member extinguishes his cigar on one of the group's Tiger's in a show of bravado, causing the animal to attack and starting a panicked firefight. In the aftermath several audience members are dead and Ryan is asked by Ellie to put down the mortally wounded animal, which he does. The group leaves town quickly, chased by gunfire from angry residents, and escape unharmed. Afterward Ryan notes that the bar's lockbox was missing following the incident, and after some hinting one of Ellie's daughters outright admits that they stole it during the confusion. This earns bemused approval from both Ryan and J. B., but the two nonetheless decide to part ways with the group, not the least reason being that Ellie and her daughters have expressed romantic interest in the two over objections that they are both in committed relationships.

Meanwhile, Abe and Trader head into a small ville to grab themselves some food and drink. They'd been there before and traded insults with some of the locals, but nothing came of it. This time, the insults lead to Trader killing one of them; a posse of men chase them out of town and into the mountains. Abe fell behind and was captured; that night while the men have him in their camp, Trader sneaks in, kills all the men, and frees Abe.

The Slaves of Sin arrive at the farm and demand food and water. Jak was willing to let them have water from his well, but no more, and they have to be gone by noon. The leader, Apostle Simon, gets him to allow them to stay until morning, so the Slaves make camp a mile or so away.

The next day, Ryan and JB encounter a buffalo stampede; they lock down the LAV 25 and ride it out, then keep heading north. They find an old ghost town that seems utterly normal (being old and abandoned) until they turn the corner and find a street where everything is in perfect shape. There are dozens of people (real, taxidermied corpses) posed in various buildings, along with recordings for atmosphere. They soon run into the creator of this ghoulish town, Malachi Gribble, who treats them to dinner and gives them a room at the inn. He has no intention of letting them leave, of course - he wants to add them to his collection. They catch him in the act, however, when he sneaks into their room in the middle of the night. Ryan ties him to a fence for the rest of the night, then executes him in the morning.

Late the next day, they arrive in another ville run by an old friend, Baron Tenbos. Tenbos is dying, and his two sons are seeking to take over; he wants Ryan and JB's help, but they demur, saying it's none of their business. The brothers see the perfect opportunity, however: they can kill their father, blame the outlanders, and take over power. When Ryan and JB go to view the baron's gun collection the next day, they find the baron dead; the brothers try to kill them as well "in revenge", but are killed instead. The pair leave as the sec men choose one of their own to lead.

That night, Dean and Doc sneak out to see what the fladgies are up to. They're holding a ceremony - one of them is tied to a cross and is sacrificed as the pair watch, and the group is making plans to attack the homestead soon. Before they can head back to warn the others, though, Jak and Mildred try to sneak around the camp and get caught. Dean and Doc hurry back to tell Krysty what's happened.

Doc moves out to the barn to check on Judas and watch for the incoming fladgies. He's confronted by three of them; with Judas' help, he kills all three. Krysty finishes the last one as he tries to flee.

Meanwhile, Ryan and JB are running short on gas. Lucky for them, they come to a small ville that has supplies. The locals are willing to part with it, in exchange for the pair cleaning out a small camp of stickies. The complication: the stickies have a virulent form of cholera. As the pair scout the camp, a trio of hunters attack and kill the stickies themselves, then go in and rape one of the women. Ryan and JB head back to town, tell the folks the stickies were dead, and leave; a mile or so outside of town, they run into the hunters, who all have cholera; they point the trio toward the town.

Dean, Doc, and Krysty come up with a plan - Dean goes into the camp disguised as a young Christ, while Doc plays the voice of God. They get the fladgies into a religious frenzy, them kill them all and rescue Jak and Mildred.

At the end of the book, Ryan and JB reach the Cascades and spot Abe and Trader.


  • The audio cassette was released in June, 2000.




Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.