Battle Circle by Piers Anthony
Battle Circle took me forever to finish. Now I have several great reasons for this. Reason the first is that this book is actually an omnibus. It has all of the books in a trilogy included within. In other words it wasn't a single book; it was three. All three of these books were normal-sized-novel type books. Three. Of. Them. Also the paper was almost bible-thin. And the font was tiny.
Those things, however, were the least of my problems. I was reading this book in fits and starts in and around researching, conducting, reading, note taking and then the actual writing of my thesis.
Also on a slightly different note this was the first PA book I've read that I actually wished I had one of those nifty cloth book covers. You know the ones they sell to ladies to hide the cover of bodice rippers so they can read them embarrassment free in public. My brother-in-law gave me a fair amount of shit based on the latently homosexual nature of the cover. I've mentioned in passing many times that I am a teacher. For the past several years I've been a sub or in lay terms, a glorified baby sitter. The only other book I've read that made me wish for the stealth cover was The Dying by Leslie Horvitz. But that was because the book cover was terrifying to kindergartners as opposed to extremely embarrassing.
Back on point here. The first book was called Sos the Rope. This book was one of those PA books where the end happened so long in the past that it is nearly forgotten. The denizens of the book called the event that left the world as they knew it 'The Blast'. There was no back story to the event. Nothing related as to why or when or how many. All that is really told is that The Blast happened and destroyed everything. Society after that fractured into three different groups.
The first group who live at the mountain are called Halicon. When The Blast happened they got bulldozers and pushed the rubble of the cities into a giant pile hollowed it out and lived in it. They were scientists and were mostly intent on keeping the technology of the the 'Pre-Blast' world alive. Things seemed to work wonderfully for them 'till they discovered they had left out something pretty crucial. They neglected to bring enough women. They fix that problem in a very scientific way, I guess.
The scientists at Halicon thought they were totally alone and were the only survivors of The Blast. They are wrong. Two more groups survived in the outside world. They are the Nomads and the Crazies. The Crazies (who are not related to the older George Romero film or it's more ill advised remake) keep the knowledge from the Pre-Blast time. Their actions make no sense to anyone who is not them so they must be crazy. Who reads books or is even interested in learning to read anyway?
The third group are Nomads. These guys (even though they are barbarians) are the real glue that holds this entire civilization together. They have this bazaar code. The society is pretty much non-violent and fairly peaceful. Except for in The Circle. "There are no manners in The Circle only victory defeat." In other words they are nice and mostly well mannered but when they step into The Circle they fight until someone gives up, leaves The Circle or dies.
All these groups are very closely tied together, symbiotic relationship close. The Crazies seem to know about it and Halicon orchestrates the whole thing. The Nomads however have no idea about the connection. The Crazies are the keepers of book knowledge but they were also farmers. The residents of Halicon have some hydroponics but their main responsibility is crafting quality weapons. Now all the machines in 'The Mountain' are all run on nuclear power. So they run forever and the raw material for all things they make (most of them for use in The Circle) is what The Mountain is made of, because it's made of the remains of a large city. Never ending energy and raw materials. So the Crazies trade with Halicon for weapons. Then they take the weapons and some of the food and stock 'hostels' with both.
There is so much to this trilogy I don't think I'll ever be done with the synopsis. Anyhow the last thing before I wrap this up. The names are weird too. So your dad's name is Tor (it's always CVC, consonant vowel consonant for those nonteacher types). Your name would be Tori no matter if you were a boy or a girl. Boys when they reach manhood (manhood = win first fight in The Circle) you choose a new CVC name for yourself plus add the weapon you used to win the fight. So that's why you end up with Sos the Rope. Also if you use the weapon anywhere else but in The Circle the Crazies stop putting more food and weapons in the hostels. So is you don't play nice you starve.
Last thing before I end this thing. The best book of them all was Neq the Sword. Way more more depravity. More of the PA goodness I love so much. The best scene in the book is during Var the Stick. He is on an epic quest when he meets a bunch of women. They live in a giant hive and the regular females call themselves 'Workers' the men are 'Drones' and the one in charge is the 'Queen'. It reminded me a lot of Thundarr the Barbarian for some reason. Seems like the sort of hijinks he'd get up to.
So that's it. Battle Circle was extraordinarily long but not boring. Also not all that absorbing. Well Neq the Sword was verging on greatness. Anyhow it's a good read and when you're done, you'll have the satisfaction of knowing you did.
Next up Neena Gathering and The Pack. But later.