By the Feet of Men
WANTED: Men and women willing to drive through the valley of the shadow of death.
WANTED: Men and women willing to drive through the valley of the shadow of death.
The world’s population has been decimated by the Change, a chain reaction of events triggered by global warming. In Europe, governments have fallen, cities have crumbled and the wheels of production have ground to a halt. The Alps region, containing most of the continent’s remaining fresh water, has become a closed state with heavily fortified borders. Survivors cling on by trading through the Runners, truck drivers who deliver cargo and take a percentage.
Amid the ruins of central Germany, two Runners, Cassady and Ghazi, are called on to deliver medical supplies to a research base deep in the Italian desert, where scientists claim to be building a machine that could reverse the effects of the Change. Joining the pair are a ragtag collection of drivers, all of whom have something to prove. Standing in their way are starving nomads, crumbling cities, hostile weather and a rogue state hell-bent on the convoy's destruction. And there's another problem: Cassady is close to losing his nerve.
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Disastrous climate changes and radiation have ravaged Earth, and humankind’s future depends on a convoy of supply truck drivers in Price’s unforgiving dystopia. Ghazi and Cassady are Runners, delivering supplies to settlements across Germany’s ruins in a truck named Warspite. Price maintains a good balance between reflection and thrills as Ghazi, Cassady, and three other Runner teams undertake a critical medical supply run to the Italian desert. The weather, desperate survivors, and extreme religions conspire to form a brutal world, vividly depicted through Price’s economical yet evocative prose and accentuated by the Runners’ psychology. Hostility among the Runners and Cassady’s failing nerve for his dangerous job add to the tension as the convoy approaches the biggest barrier between them and their goal: the fortified state in the Alps. Price (Static Age) employs clever, precise writing that’s evocative and atmospheric without venturing into gory horror. This truly grim version of the future will keep readers riveted. ~ Publishers Weekly (starred review), https://www.publishersweekly.com/978-1-78904-145-3
Grant Price has crafted a gripping, evocative future thriller packed with high octane action which isn’t afraid to confront difficult issues and address moral imperatives we’re familiar with in today’s increasingly loud and lurid world. Price’s dystopian future is all too credible and he reminds us how easily the world we take for granted can be brought to its knees by our own stupidity and our inability to understand our place in the scheme of things. It’s a gritty, densely written story that takes its time setting up this unpleasant new world order and establishing its cast of characters - Ghazi and Cassady are the story’s voices but there’s no shortage of rich, colourful supporting characters - and when the convoy of Runners sets out on its unenviable journey across a pitiless landscape we’re off on a gripping, tortuous adventure where no-one’s safety is guaranteed and where violence lurks at every and any corner. By the Feet of Men is a towering achievement that pulls no punches. This is a grim, unpleasant, and uncomfortable world. Ghazi and Cassady, filthy and unkempt, their clothes crawling with lice, are tested to their limits and beyond as they and the other mismatched Runners battle to complete a mission which may well determine the future of the human race. The book quickly finds its feet after a slightly meandering first handful of chapters and the ending is bittersweet at best but this is a tough, uncompromising book that paints a dispiriting picture of the sort of future we seem to be intent on making for ourselves. ~ Starburst Magazine (9/10), https://www.starburstmagazine.com/reviews/by-the-feet-of-men
There are always important lessons to be learned in this world and one that I try to hold on to as best I can is that you should never discount anything because of what you think has come before. You come across a book and you think to yourself something along the lines of, "Well this post-apocalyptic thing has pretty much out-distanced its own legs, hasn't it? Haven't we had enough of these stories?" The reality is one that I think is demonstrated by Grant Price's book, By the Feet of Men. In other words, it's entirely possible to take a well-travelled and maybe overused genre and make it into something special. Because some things, when done with a certain degree of skill, are always going to be enjoyable. What I like about the core drive of this book is that it has the courage to plunge the reader into the heart of the story without an easy road map to guide people along. There isn't an intricately drawn out backstory or prologue to set the mood. You are simply placed into this universe and the story begins to run. And as you read, it quickly becomes clear that most of the details you might be wishing had been present aren't really germane to the story. We are reading about these characters and the weight of their journey. That's what you should be focusing on as the reader. Not the ins and outs or the specifics about how this particular world came into being. I know there are readers out there who want the book to be a full ten-course meal with as much laid out as possible. And I'm not disparaging that point of view. But for me, I appreciate the notion that while something might spark my intellectual curiosity, it isn't necessarily something I "need" to know. I think it shows a certain amount of respect for me, and gives me a more participatory role by handing over some details and with that the freedom to fill other gaps on my own. The relevance here is that I think the strength of the plot hangs on the world and the story. And it's the landscape of the story that I think draws me in the most. The descriptions are vivid and the reality of these lives feel honest and authentic. You have to be willing to do some of the work yourself but the narrative room this creates really allows the story a chance to blossom into something special and entertaining to read. There are books that are entertaining but you don't really feel the drive or desire to go back and read them again. This book is one of those rare examples where you enjoy it and at the same time feel excited about the notion of reading it again, to see how the story flows when you know where everything is going. ~ Ginger Nuts of Horror, https://gingernutsofhorror.com/fiction-reviews/by-the-feet-of-men-by-grant-price-book-review (4/5)
By The Feet of Men is another entry in a long string of fiction that explores what happens to the world after… well, everything, but manages to do so in a unique, character-driven way. Let’s get this out of the way first: Price doesn’t break any brand-new ground in the post-apocalyptic scenario. Where he excels, though, is in relationships and writing style. I’m not someone who has an easy time following a lot of action, and this book is filled with it. It’s clear that Price has these scenes laid out in his head almost cinematically, and conveys them with as much clarity. It’s amazing how intricate they are, getting in small details that quite frankly make me care and understand just how terrible this new world is. It’s clear he’s figured out this entire world, and he knows all of the little stops. Too often, with post-apocalyptic fiction we don’t get a clear setting other than “it sucks now,” but this is a real world, filled with dangers and broken cities. There’s some real world building here that’s extremely impressive, and a style that gives you details while not bogging you down. There’s also a real feel for these characters. Cassady and Ghazi are likeable, which is important because you’re spending a lot of time with them. There is a lived-in quality to their friendship, one that you can tell starts well before this book. Overall, this was an enjoyable novel. I had a hard time putting it down, because I was engrossed with the way it played with my expectations, and I kept wondering what was going happen next. There are some good moments of foreshadowing early on that pay off later, which is also a nice bonus, especially for those paying close attention. It’s like a good action movie, one that keeps you on your toes, and with prose that keeps you engrossed the whole time. ~ Future Fire, http://reviews.futurefire.net/2019/04/price-by-feet-of-men.html
Post-apocalyptic fiction with a global warming theme is a crowded marketplace, but Grant Price’s By the Feet of Men is well worth a closer look. This potent mix of fast-paced action thriller, set in a world which seems to be breathing its last, and bleak survival novel has an outstanding range of characters, clever observations and a very well-drawn society in which resources have diminished beyond exhaustion. Grant Price's vision of the future is an incredibly bleak one, and although no exact dates are mentioned, it’s probably within a century of today. The author develops his intricate vision of the future nice and slowly, slyly dropping clues on how mankind ended up on the brink of extinction. Drip feeling revelations in this style was a real strength of the novel and the level of detail, punctured with clever observations, made it very easy to be sucked into the author’s parched world. By the Feet of Men is a thoughtful and inventive addition to the environmental apocalyptic genre. It does not sensationalise the future, nor dip into end-of-the-world clichés; instead Grant Price paints a vivid picture, with believable characters, and it was very enjoyable to hitch a ride with. Just remember to strap on both your seatbelt and bulletproof vest. ~ Horror DNA, https://www.horrordna.com/books/by-the-feet-of-men-grant-price-book-review (4/5)
This book was hard to put down, despite pressing calls on my time. Those familiar with my reviews will know what matters most to me as a reader of fiction is empathy with at least one character. Here, following a group of eight distinct individuals, all with history, biases, and flaws, I found I could identify with all on some level. The story is driven (pun intended) by the characters’ individual responses to the need of their mission: basically, an attempt to cross hostile lands and deliver vital medicine to an isolated group of disease-threatened scientists who just may have the means to put the world back on course for humanity. The author delves deep into his imagination, clearly fed by extensive research, to portray the sort of society that could result from our current climate emergency. This world is intolerable, with a climate that has made water a vital resource, with all the expected gang violence such need always brings. Food is scarce, poor, and monotonous. Well-paced, strong, balanced and utterly credible, this narrative held my attention all the way through. The denouement is moving, tense, unexpected and inevitable. Those readers who harbour doubts about our potential future will learn of potential futures here, and hopefully come on board. Those already sensible enough to understand the ramifications of our excess and irresponsibility will find a novel that entertains, educates, and satisfies. A really good read that everyone should experience. ~ Stuart Aken, https://stuartaken.net/2019/05/21/by-the-feet-of-men-by-grant-price-bookreview/
Part adventure tale, part dystopian novel, this is an immersive story about survival and how the notion of the future keeps people going. Price’s world-building is gradual and expert. The book opens with Cassady and Ghazi on the road, and other details fill in as the story progresses. The destruction of the world is relayed in snippets, fleshed out with examples of people reacting to natural disasters in a way that makes their situations worse. The characters, rather than the dystopia itself, drive the story. By the Feet of Men is a future-focused adventure with meaningful individual and global stakes. ~ Foreword Reviews, July/August print issue / https://www.forewordreviews.com/reviews/by-the-feet-of-men/
A too realistic portrayal of humanity at its worst, eerily believable and entirely too possible in the not so distant future. If you enjoy dystopian tales with good character development that explore how humanity reacts in the face of adversity, struggling to survive in a ruined world, then this book delivers on its promise. ~ Literary Portals, https://literaryportals.blogspot.com/2019/06/book-review-by-feet-of-men-by-grant.html
By the Feet of Men, published by John Hunt Publishing, rides on the crest of a zeitgeist. From its opening pages the novel drips hints that we’re being given a glimpse into a much changed world. “The surface of the earth is soft and impressible by the feet of men,” begins the Henry David Thoreau quote from which the book takes its title, and it is clear here that our world has been distorted by mankind’s interventions. The landscape has suffered: “No animals ran or flew or slithered … It was a mortuary.” Price imagines a hard land, peopled by tough characters. Humanity has been reduced to a Darwinian race, where survival of the fittest is the only law. Violence seeps into the very geography. The sky is “slashed open”, a grave is an abscess, buildings are “disembowelled, their guts spilling into the surrounding streets.” Through this dystopia move the Runners, transporting meagre goods through inhospitable territories, bartering for their own subsistence. Cassady and Ghazi live day-by-day, hand-to-mouth, until they are given the chance to run a mission that might make a difference, to themselves, and to the world. Like all Runners, they ride as a pair, but their vehicle has equal billing as the third member of the crew. Warspite, often affectionately termed ‘the Old Lady’ is their transport, their livelihood, and their life support. She is a character in her own right. For this is a world in which animal and engine blend together in symbiosis. Man’s movements are “mechanical”, tension makes a throat “as tight as an engine nut”, while a rig is a “toxic insect”. Human and machine combat the elements together. With life itself at stake, Cassady leads a convoy in a quest to battle back. Their progress is slow as the Runners often crawl, but Price nevertheless moves the action forward at whip-crack pace. His prose is hard, sharp, often fierce, like an action hero punching a way through problems. It’s not exactly a man’s world. Strong female characters abound, though they are as likely to be bald, tattooed, feral and ferocious as the men. If testosterone fuelled the rigs they would fly. Somehow, within and beside the desolation and the danger, Price finds time to explore Thoreau further. The titular quote continues to wonder about the paths the mind travels, and By the Feet of Men delves into philosophy at any opportunity. Genuine tension mounts as the Runners journey into the unknown. There is real emotion, tangible pain as they sway under the blows of the choices and mistakes they make. The novel has a visual, filmic quality, but one contrast to action flicks is that death does not always come quickly. The Runners see “going out without fear” as passing the test. Ultimately, this is a survival story. A battle of individuals, but also for a species, and for the deeper meaning of what it means to be human. “’My mission,” says Ghazi, “is to understand what I call the soul.’” Cassady’s mission is to save the world. Price’s charge is to combine the two in an intelligent action thriller. The achievement of each may be open to interpretation. For this reader the author, at least, is successful. ~ Mad Hatter Reviews, http://www.madhatterreviews.co.uk/books--e-books.html
An intriguing and unique dystopian tale, By the Feet of Men addresses hopelessness, hard-wired survival instinct, and what it truly means to be human in a dark, desolate and dangerous post-apocalyptic world. It’s thrilling…it’s gritty, it’s haunting… and will leave readers wondering and contemplating about life and more. Grant Price has masterfully created a chilling and believable dystopian narrative filled with nerve-wracking action, great character development, wonderful suspense, and relevant and realistic exploration of survival, loyalty, camaraderie, sacrifice, and ultimately what it means to hold on to our humanity when faced with impossible life and death decisions. If you’re in the mood for an interesting, somewhat disturbing, but fascinating story that will definitely leave a lasting impression, then add this book to your TBR. ~ Sincerely Karenjo, https://sincerelykarenjo.com/2019/08/19/arc-review-by-the-feet-of-men-by-grant-price/ (4/5)
I was in the mood for a good post apocalyptic type book, and By the Feet of Men delivered for me. The subject of climate change, and the elite few hoarding what precious resources are left available, makes it especially relevant. Price avoids over explaining and creates a future that feels real and more possible than ever. The characters and the dynamics between them really made the story stand out. There are four trucks with two drivers each, and each feels distinct and unique, even when they are filling the role of familiar archetypes. The fearless leader isn't so fearless, and frequently lashes out, and his driving partner is a tenderhearted optimist capable of cold decisions. I was particularly impressed by the arc of one character in particular who would've been so easy to leave as a 2D stereotype, but instead is handled in a much more satisfying (not to mention more realistic) manner. Even the characters with less page time stood out in their own ways, and I actually felt care and concern for them and their quest. I'm a reader that prefers standalone novels, and By the Feet of Men does feel complete, yet still open to further exploration, and I would actually love to see it extended into a trilogy! ~ Biblioculus, https://www.biblioculus.com/2019/07/book-review-by-feet-of-men-by-grant.html?spref=tw
I love post-apocalyptic fiction and read this one in go. The prose is straightforward and simple, with no distractions. By The Feet of Men offers a lot of action, and the pacing doesn't let up. Not a dull moment in sight. Price takes a lot of care to build his characters, instead of focusing on the world as so many post-apocalyptic novels do, and it works. They're all well developed, well written, and I found myself fully invested in all of them. While the world building is definitely immersive with no info dumps, the apocalypse has already happened, and this is how humanity lives now. The world is a backdrop, an intriguing one, but a backdrop nonetheless. I recommend this to all fans of post-apocalyptic fiction. ~ Books in Blankets, https://www.booksinblankets.com/2019/04/by-feet-of-men-by-grant-price.html
This novel really took me by surprise. From the synopsis, I was anticipating the apocalyptic, dystopian story that we’ve all grown fairly familiar with. You know the one: the state of the Earth has declined so badly that vegetation is scarce, people are starving, and surviving is all you have to look forward to. And really, you do get those characteristics in this book. But you also get a lot more, too. Dystopian novels can only go one of two ways for me: poorly or wonderfully. I often find the set-ups to be unbelievable or hard to grasp and there tends to be a lot of action that doesn’t necessarily add to the plot of the story and is just there to take up space. With By the Feet of Men, neither of those things were a problem. Price doesn’t bother to explain much about the deterioration of the planet; instead, readers dive right into the mayhem. The characters were very well planned and written. Though the book mostly focused on Cassady and Ghazi, the third-person POV allowed the 6 others to play an important role as well and I found myself invested in all of their stories. Overall, it’s about more than just their dystopian setting and mission at hand. There is a lot of talk about the meaning of life, and in the state they are in it’s important for them to decide whether they want to keep surviving or give up altogether. If you’re a dystopian fiction fan and you enjoy new spins on old tales, I’d recommend this to you! ~ Brittany the Book Guru, https://brittanythebookguru.com/2019/04/08/arc-book-review-by-the-feet-of-men/
I liked this concept. It’s a new take on how the world can be changed by the hands of mankind. The personality of each character is well developed. The characters learn to rely upon each other. It did take time for this to happen; Runners are known to be aloof. Their emotions were palpable to me. There is a wonderful correlation between how the drivers' health suffers and and how the land they pass becomes worse. Each driver also undergoes a personality changes which shows how each person is either gaining knowledge or taking a beating. The plot stays strong with no major changes. I enjoyed seeing how mankind is still struggling to keep itself alive and how far it will go. The world is well described and makes me glad that I was not there. Each driver also knows that this run could be their last, yet they decide to go anyway. They want the world to be healed so future generations can live a better life. If you love people showing how strong they can be when adversity strikes, if you also enjoy observing a stricken world and a different take on what happens when mankind harms the planet, then this is the book for you. ~ Long and Short Reviews (five stars), http://www.longandshortreviews.com/book-reviews/by-the-feet-of-men-by-grant-price/
By the Feet of Men drops us straight into the new normal – dry, hot, arid land with next to no shelter and no animals in sight where our protagonists are Runners – people who drive all over the land doing drops and swaps with communities while still living their life on the open road. The writing in this novel was fantastic and drew me into our potential future. Being set in a familiar location makes to easy to drop into the story and not want to climb out. Cassady and Ghazi are great characters with different personalities who somehow complement each other. They both have a weariness about them, especially Cassady. If you read or enjoy future sci-fi this is definitely a great choice! ~ Lizbie's Nerdy World, https://lizbiesnerdyworld.wordpress.com/2019/08/14/book-review-by-the-feet-of-men-by-grant-price/
As an avid fan and reader of dystopian fiction, I knew that this was right up my alley! I’m always up for a post-apocalyptic read, and this one definitely fit the bill. Overall, the story was something I hadn’t seen before, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. In addition to the unique plotline, the characters easily drove the story forward. They’re all vividly described and have personalities that work well together on the page. Once you get acclimated to this new world that Price has created, you won’t be able to put the book down until the end. If you’re looking for new post-apocalyptic fiction, definitely check this book out! ~ Between the Shelves, https://between-the-shelves.com/2019/08/review-by-the-feet-of-men/ (4/5)
“An existential odyssey to the soul of a climate-torn Europe to come. Grant Price’s progressive outlook on (wo)man-made climate change is done justice through diverse, multicultural perspectives written in cinematic prose”. ~ Nicholas Potter, EXBERLINER Magazine
"We owe a huge climate debt by not yet collectively acting on the massive distortions in Earth's climate system caused by humans. It is emblematic and proof of our poor imagination skills, resistance to facts and a lack of interest for the common good – this must change if we are to backtrack from a ‘hothouse Earth’ scenario and survive as a species. Without fantasy and imagining where global warming on its current trajectory will lead us, we are left in the dark. By the Feet of Men is a gut-punch of a novel that lays bare what we risk if we don't change our ways now. In exploring the aftermath of a collapsed global society, Price deftly shows how climate change and ecological disruption are an existential threat both to the societies we have inherited and human civilisation as a whole. He challenges us to prove to ourselves and our children that we truly are homo sapiens—the ‘thinking man’—and see that a different path is always open to us. By the Feet of Men mines the depths of human despair to make the message abundantly clear: we don't have time." ~ Mårten Thorslund, We Don't Have Time (www.wedonthavetime.org)
"By the Feet of Men is a fascinating novel full of intriguing and engaging characters on a dangerous adventure through a stark and barren world. Not only does Grant Price's post-apocalyptic triumph warn of the very real threat of climate change, it keeps you guessing right to the end and provides thrills, trauma and a range of emotions as Cassady, Ghazi and the other runners face danger at every turn. The beautifully described setting reminded me of Mad Max, and the dashes of philosophy add an extra layer to make the reader think about the story long after they've read the final page." ~ David Turton, author of The Malaise