It is a world you don’t ever want to live in, but it is also a world that is inevitable. Censorship is commonplace, omnipotent over freedom. Set only 7 years in the future, the world has become a mash up of apocalyptic suppression and simmering beliefs. Expressions of emotions are intense and sharp, and words are used like weapons.
In the superb “The Lines of Union”, author K.C. Bryce Fitzgerald ornately depicts a world that though different than modern day, is entirely familiar and believable. The novel’s opening immediately pulls in the reader with the descriptive representation of the books titular hero, John Herald. A man who is not so unlike other fictional characters that have come before him, John is wounded and torn. He is also beyond intelligent and driven to foster a world where politics can be used as a tool to unite the separate factions of the world, not to destroy them.
A hero to many, John is a rogue. The structure of the novel fits his personality and development perfectly in that it plays out like a road movie, replete with frequent setting changes and the introduction of minor characters that help to clarify to the reader some of John’s more latent traits. The chasm between John’s tendency to internalize his turmoil and his clear ability to harness the morale of his followers is interesting in several ways. These fissures are what makes John so believable yet complicated. He is not a rock – unfeeling nor warm. Instead, he’s a proliferation of what makes a satisfying protagonist.
Told in 5 books, “The Lines of Union” moves at a fervent pace. Each book services a specific purpose to not only John’s development as a character, but to the climax of a world where the power to believe is stronger than all of its combined armies and naval forces. Fitzgerald cleverly uses a myriad of adjectives to parlay the intensity of the heat that comprises the environmental atmosphere of the book. The prevalence of the heat that simmers in the background in the many cities of California becomes akin to the simmering emotions of the characters. The reader knows that the novel is like a watching a pot boil, and every unfolding chapter adding heat to it’s inevitable eruption.
As alluded to above, “The Lines of Union” is a political thriller surely, with its inclusion of commentary of the power of Corporate beings over the economic state of America. ‘Hactivists’ and aligned forces come together to prevent the country from falling into a war state of opposition. However, what I found particularly moving was Fitzgerald’s ability to ensnare the reader with his proficient use of wordplay that demonstrates his strength as a writer.
Fitzgerald, a mover and shaker in the cinematic world, deftly uses turns of phrase to make the scenes depicted in the novel highly visual and precise. I could perfectly see John Herald, navigating his way through the heat of California, on the big screen. I imagined who would play him in the film version. Who could play his love interest, Christina? A bold move by Fitzgerald, his uncanny ability to essentially make “The Lines of Union” a screenplay (with heft and heart) only opens up more opportunities for him as both a writer and a filmmaker.
Given the current political state of the United States with its colorful set of characters vying for its presidency, “The Lines of Union” is not only timely, but a true commentary on the state of the world today. Telling a story well is a feat, but telling a story that brilliantly encapsulates the dangers of political complacency without becoming a diatribe on societal expectations? That is a triumph.