Author: Rhiannon Frater
Published: September 12th 2013
Publisher: Lyssa-Noel Rhiannon Frater
Lenght: 11 hrs and 56 mins
A walled city surrounded by lush land, protected by high mountain summits, and fortified by a massive gate to secure the only pass into the valley, The Bastion remained humanity's last hope against the fearsome undead creatures known as the Inferi Scourge. On one fateful day, the valley gate failed and the Inferi Scourge overran and destroyed the human settlements outside the walls, trapping the remaining survivors inside the city. Now, decades later, the last remaining humans are struggling to survive in a dying city of dwindling resources...and dwindling hope.Vanguard Maria Martinez has lived her entire life within the towering walls of steel. She yearns for a life away from the overcrowded streets, rolling blackouts, and food shortages, but there is no hope for anyone as long as the Inferi Scourge howl outside the high walls. Her only refuge from the daily grind is in the arms of Dwayne Reichardt, an officer in the Bastion Constabulary. Both are highly-decorated veterans of the last disastrous push against the Inferi Scourge. Their secret affair is her only happiness.Then one day Maria is summoned to meet with a mysterious representative from the Science Warfare Division and is offered the opportunity to finally destroy the Inferi Scourge in the valley and close the gate, reclaiming the lost lands and energizing the populace with renewed hope for the future. The rewards of success are great, but she will have to sacrifice everything, possibly even her life, to accomplish the ultimate goal of securing the future of humanity and saving it from extinction.
I wasn’t even the least bit surprised by how much I enjoyed The Last Bastion of the Living. Rhiannon Frater is well known for being a horror writer par excellence, and she only confirmed her status with this futuristic zombie novel. Well, she did a bit more than that: she outdid herself and surpassed all my expectations by far.
Vanguard Maria Martinez is an officer of the constabulary. Although young, she’s already a decorated war hero with a very strong sense of duty. Her job is to guard the wall that separates the living from the dead – the Bastion from the zombie-infested lands – but the war against the Inferi Scourge, i.e. the zombies, has long ago been lost. The last city, last Bastion, is fighting for mere survival, nothing more. Maria doesn’t remember a world without the scrags, but when she is called to lead a desperate mission, she sees it as her duty to accept.
Castellan Dwayne Reichardt is Maria’s boyfriend, twenty five years her senior. They keep their relationship a secret for several valid reasons, but their love is strong and true. He is there to support Maria every step of the way, and he never hesitates to bend a few rules if that’s what it takes to keep her safe. Frater did something not many authors do: she wrote a solid relationship that was already established at the beginning of the novel and that remained a warm, comforting presence throughout. This story did not need relationship angst – it needed both Maria and Dwayne, confident in their love and united against their enemies. Everything about them was perfectly realistic and even though they were physically apart most of the time, their love kept softening the edges of this story.
The Last Bastion of the Living is told both from Maria’s and Dwayne’s third person points of view, and both perspectives were needed to understand the full extent of their troubles. Frater is a fabulous storyteller, one who knows how to build up tension to an almost unbearable level, and The Last Bastion is her most mature work to date, unpredictable and fascinating.
Kristin Allison narrated this audiobook and I thought she did a stunning job. Her voice is calm, measured and mature-sounding, perfect for a fierce soldier like Maria. She narrated the action scenes in that same tranquil manner, which, instead of making them seem dull, increased the creepiness and the tension. She was an excellent choice for a book like The Last Bastion and I won’t hesitate to buy something narrated by her in the future.
As for Rhiannon Frater and I, our love story is only just beginning. She’ll keep writing, I’ll keep reading and we’ll both live happily ever after.