10/11 Reread. As I was reading this I was wondering why I love dystopian fiction so much. Is it the feeling of unsteadiness it gives me in everyday life? Is it that I have a deep and abiding faith in humanity to get it right the second time? Is it that my own life is comfortable? I don't have a solid answer, but this book is one I love. Despite the coincidences, despite the staggering body count complete with graphic descriptions of arrows thumping meatily into flesh & bone, despite the goofy portrait of the Wiccans- it's a book I sink into and embrace.12/10Solid, engaging apocalyptic dystopia. If you are willing to suspend your disbelief and accept coincidences and luck of the The Clan of the Cave Bear sort, you are in for a rollicking good tale. There's, for instance, a bowyer in every bush when the good guys realize that crossbows are going to be the preferred defensive weapon in the new world- but it works. The body count is astronomical, but in this context not at all gratuitous. The constant, reverent references to Tolkien were delightful. The characters are likable and interesting, the central conceit fresh and the setting of my own back yard was a bonus. I'm going on to read the rest of the series, for sure. And I anticipate re-reading this as often as I revisit, say, Alas, Babylon or A Canticle for Leibowitz. Recommended, if you like this sort of thing.