The novel “Guardians of the Phoenix” by Eric Brown was published for the first time in 2010.
Paul is one of the last survivors of the failed colony of Paris. Every day he looks for food for himself and for the elderly woman who raised him but now the ruins of the old city are giving more and more in to the desert. Even lizards are becoming rarer and rarer, making survival very difficult.
One day, Paul discovers a group of men who are chasing a girl. He realizes that he should move away immediately but he’s too curious and follows them, albeit with caution. When he finds them while they’re eating, he realizes that the remains of the girl make up their meal. The situation becomes very dangerous when he gets discovered.
“Guardians of the Phoenix” is a post-apocalyptic novel set decades after the climate collapse pushed humanity to near extinction. The struggle for the scarcer and scarcer resources led to wars and even the use of nuclear weapons with the only result of making the situation worse.
In the 22nd century, the world is reduced to a desert with very little water in which small groups of humans are trying to survive. There are still some small towns whose inhabitants are trying to make the most of the few resources available. often there’s so little food is often so poor that cannibalism has become normal.
Among the ruins of Paris there was a small colony of survivors but over time it collapsed due to lack of resources and only an elderly woman and a boy, Paul, remained. For some time the two of them have eaten especially lizards but they’re becoming scarce too.
Everything changes when Paul sees a group of men who are chasing a girl. This not only changes the boy’s life but also of many other people after meeting with other groups of survivors from colonies around Europe. The search for resources leads them to follow the clues found in old papers that could lead to an old warehouse.
This sort of treasure hunt marks what is a pretty standard post-apocalyptic adventure. Eric Brown gives us a really bleak portrait of this future world, in my opinion pushing it too far in certain cases. The problem isn’t in its brutality because unfortunately in such a situation it’s normal that there are people who usually behaves in a violent manner. However, there are elements of this portrait that make little sense to me.
First of all, in this future, all the seas are gone but it’s unclear what happende to all the water! If anything, one of the fundamental problems of global warming is exactly in the rising sea levels. The water can’t completely evaporate so this element seems to just make the situation more dramatic.
The leader of a group of survivors blames scientists for the catastrophe but today almost all scientists consider global warming a serious problem. Politicians are the ones who are doing little about it and there are people who believe that the alarm is exaggerated or even that it’s a conspiracy. The character in question is the son of a scientist so his attitude is even more bizarre.
In general, the characters of “Guardians of the Phoenix” don’t seem well developed. Paul is a boy who’s a little wild but good-hearted and many other characters in the novel tend to follow various clichés too. One of the problems of the story for me is that the villain Hans is a concentrate of depravity and I don’t understand how anyone can be duped by him.
Throughout the story various pieces of information about the ecological collapse and the wars that followed it are supplied but with no real insights. “Guardians of the Phoenix” is mostly an adventure novel in which there’s a lot of action and drama that partly cover its faults. The pace tends to be fast making even traveling around Europe look very fast.
In the and, at the base of the story there’s the search for a hope for a future. In a world where the situation is more and more desperate, something that was left over from the past that someone despises can be the key to the survival of humanity.
In my opinion, “Guardians of the Phoenix” has more flaws than merits. It may be a pastime for fans of Eric Brown or post-apocalyptic adventures.