Thursday, 16 March 2017

Chuckles Retro Reads: Fortess Britain by Michael Stephen Fuchs (Arisen #1)

A world fallen - under a plague of seven billion walking dead
A tiny island nation - the last refuge of the living
One team - of the world's most elite special operators
The dead, these heroes, humanity's last hope, all have...

When the Zombie Apocalypse came, one country had shut down its borders in response to a major terrorist attack. Now Fortress Britain is the last bastion of the living - with 50 million beleaguered survivors facing down a world of 7 billion animated corpses.

And when civilization fell, one international team of supremely elite special operators was being assembled for a nearly impossible mission, deployed out of the SAS barracks at Hereford. Supremely trained and armed, always the most skilled, resolved, and unstoppable amongst us, now the commandos of Alpha team are humanity's last best hope for survival. Searching through the detritus of fallen Europe, scavenging pharmaceutical labs for clues to a vaccine that might bring humanity back from the brink, now they are tasked with one last desperate operation.

They must cross the Atlantic aboard the world's only remaining supercarrier, insert by air into the very middle of a dead continent, and then fight their way on foot through a city of 3 million ravening dead guys. But these Zulus will not be like any zombies they have ever fought before...

My Review: 
Britain is the only country who seems to have the zombie apocalypse under some kind of control, due to a terrorist attack shutting their airspace to aircraft just as the virus went global. The Channel Tunnel has been blocked off and the military have all but a few random zombies taken care of who are wandering the countryside. The US and UK military launch raids to gather vital supplies from around Europe in special forces missions. But things are about to go very wrong when something escapes the Tunnel...

The military based in the UK have to go on missions into Europe for supplies and information about a cure. The missions get more dangerous and new mutant versions of the zombies with more speed and intelligence are appearing, putting the troops in extreme danger. You have the ordinary Romero style shambling zombies. Then a new faster moving zombie was spotted, nicknamed 'Romeos' as in runners. But on Alpha's trip to Germany, they see something they have not seen before and the nickname is Foxtrot November meaning 'fucking nightmares'. Seriously I never want to see a Foxtrot! These guys can run like an olympic sprinter, climb, jump and their sole purpose is to infect, not feed. This is a highly disturbing development for the big bosses.

Then one night Corporal Wesley is on duty as security at the Channel Tunnel when a breach appears in the Tunnel and a Foxtrot digs its way out and starts infecting people and soldiers around Folkstone, turning the local population into zombies. Wesley finds a sole survivor from the hotel where the troops are based and he and Captain Martin launch a defense of the town, taking down zombies until the British Army arrive to help. A mission is then ordered to open the Tunnel and make sure that anything inside is dead, to stop more problems, even if it means killing the rumoured survivors, which does not sit well with Major Grews and Lt Jameson. So into the Tunnel the team goes...

Alpha Team are also given their next mission-to fly into Chicago and find the neuroscience company who had come closest to an antidote and bring it and any surviving scientists to safety. With the zombies marching through the city in droves, it is a suicide mission but could be the only chance the world has of surviving and must be taken. And still nobody knows where the lone Tunnel escaping Foxtrot has gone...

I liked this book. The writing was very tight and the authors have a good way of drawing you into the story. The missions are very tense and exciting as you wait to see if the troops or the zombies are going to get the upper hand. I liked the different types of zombies with different threat levels, which makes things a bit different, especially the introduction of the terrifying Foxtrots. The action near the tunnel takes place in the dark, where you know bad things are lurking and people are being pounced on by the undead. It was quite a gripping read and it was not hard to get caught up in events as things go wrong.

I'm not a military expert so I have no idea how accurate the portrayal of the soldiers and weapons are but to the untrained eye it feels realistic and authentic. This is how I imagine that a military base in a crisis would be operating, complete with the mix of characters getting on each others nerves, but uniting to get on with the job. It is TEOTWAWKI as REM would have said, so things are going to be tense and petty fights are going to break out, and the soldiers are going to have fears and personal issues. I do like Alpha Team and a lot of effort is put into having us like these characters and care what happens to them. We see them as people as well as well trained soldiers. I like that we also see different people with different jobs in the defence of Britain-Wesley from the Tunnel security and his local defence leader Grews, the commanders, the ship XO, and even Alpha Team is made up of SAS, CIA, and Seals giving a nice mix of British and American characters.

However, the minor gripe? The US military are in the UK which is the only safe place to launch operations from. So of course they decide to throw their weight around, barking out orders and causing resentment from the UK soldiers-and this British reader! This is our bloody country and foreign troops should do what they are told or they can go back to the Infected States of America! Grr. But to be serious, it is a minor issue that is quickly resolved as events unfold. The brief religious bits also held no interest for me but it was clear that they were introducing the beliefs of certain characters for development purposes so I was ok with it. 

Having now read on in the series, the religious things are kept to the minimum required and the story is very fast paced so I was happy with that. Also to my delight, the teams forget their differences and both US and British team members become friends and the tension between any of them and fights over chain of command are gone.

This book is set in the UK and I'm pleased about that because there are so few good zombie novels based here for British fans to read. Too many of them are Shaun of the Dead type storylines which ends up with loser characters you hate doing dumb stuff. This is different-US Army, US Navy, SAS, Special Forces, British Armed Forces, Border Security and a cast of civilians give you different viewpoints all the time and the switching action keeps it exciting. This book is more of an scene setting introduction to the crisis so it's a bit slower than the action packed sequels but is far from being slow, as there is good action in it. If you like this books, the sequels will blow your mind! It was the first mega high octane zombie series that I looked at and I loved it!

I'm loving the series now and have expanded and rewritten this review. If you liked ZA Recht's Morningstar or Nicholas Sansbury Smith's Extinction zombie books you should like this.

star rating photo: 5 Star Rating 5stars.jpg


  1. I keep coming across this series but haven't tried it yet. I will now. I love my zombies!

    1. This is my favourite zombie series EVER! From the second book on it is a wild zombie rollercoaster with all kinds of plot twists! I just love it!

  2. That's quite the cover, and this one sounds awesome. I wouldn't want to go into the Tunnel lol. This may be one I need to get...

    1. I've given every book in the main series 5 stars. It's not easy to keep that standard over 11 books! The two prequel novels follow different characters and I gave them both four stars. So lots to enjoy!