Shadow of the Last Men by J.M. Salyards
Publisher: Xchyler Publishing (July 31, 2013)
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A futuristic Earth turns into a dystonia. Its inhabitants are a blend of the best and the worst, the good and the evil. Survival is all that matters. Readers of sci-fi and fantasy will will love this apocalyptic, fictional universe.

A societal hierarchy born out of greed and gluttony created a rift in the world’s population. Two factions emerged: the Outlanders and Order of the Last Men. The Outlanders make up the population’s majority, but they’re oppressed by the wealthy and elite group known as the Order of the Last Men.

The Outlanders face a constant struggle for survival, while the Order enjoys the privileges of life with little regard for those beneath them. Sitting in the middle of the two factions are the Mystics. The Mystics seek unilateral reconciliation between the two groups in the hopes of a more peaceful world.

Compelling characters are introduced that embody the tensions of a bitter dichotomous society. Harrow represents the Outlanders. He is a futuristic Robin Hood with little compassion for any particular group of people and a low threshold of tolerance for the Order. Alouine Morningstar is the daughter of the dead Chairman of the Highest Circle; she is nobility within the Order.

Quintain, the mystic, is fully aware of the struggle between the Order and the Outlanders. He strives to help Harrow and Alouine find common ground against a common enemy, rather than the heritage of one another. Each character creates a connection to readers; seducing them into exploring the dystopian world further.

As the plot progresses, the narrative dives deeper; transcending beyond a philosophical story about two groups on opposite ends of a societal spectrum. The story surpasses fiction and may be a reflection on modern-day society. We endure class-ism daily, but could the gap become wider? Where is the Quintain in our world to bring people together to eliminate hardship?

J.M. Salyards writes a thrilling and profound novel that will keep readers hooked until the end. The ensemble of characters build up the tension until you are hanging off a cliff, anxious to read the second volume. Salyards crafts a balanced backdrop that portrays a world as futuristic, yet realistic.

Shadow of the Last Men is a worthwhile read that holds its own in the sci-fi fantasy genre.