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My experience with reading The Last Pilgrims took several twists and turns. I took a brief read of the first chapter of the Last Pilgrims novella and honestly wasn’t so sure how the rest of the book would go, in fact you might say I was quite skeptical. That was six months ago.
Now, I have openly endorsed two of his previous books – Surviving Off Off-Grid and Modern Religious Idols – not just because he is our friend, but because he is truly a gifted author who speaks truth in a time when not many will.
But The Last Pilgrims is a fiction series, set twenty years after the societal breakdown of America. To say it is a completely new genre for Mr. Bunker is an understatement. In a way, though, The Last Pilgrims is a sort of culmination of the above two books – combining a people sharing the belief in a Sovereign God with a society that is now completely off off-grid, whether they want to be or not.
So I dove into an early copy both with excitement for the subject matter and trepidation because, frankly, I wasn’t so sure how it would end up and I knew that I would, at some point, be writing an honest review here for an author who I actually know in real life.
But here is my review: I honestly, truly really liked the book.
In fact, I am really curious what the second book in the series holds because The Last Pilgrims engaged me in the story line and the people. I feel like one of those LOST junkies who can’t wait for the next episode and whose entire life loses meaning when the series ends.
Not really on that last part, but I do plan on reading Cold Harbor, the second book in the series, as soon as I can get my hands on it.
The Story of the Last Pilgrims
This fiction series is based around a group of plain agrarian pacifists known as the Vallenses and their experiences twenty years after society has broken down.
They live simply off the land and wish to live out their days peacefully and in obedience to God. Unfortunately, they come under attack for these beliefs and their way of life. Because they do not believe in warfare, even if they are defending themselves, they could easily be annihilated by an ungodly neighboring army.
Where the story really gets interesting is in the relationship that is woven between a God-fearing militia and the Vallenses. For reasons you’ll have to find in the book, this militia is willing to spend their days and their lives defending this group of pacifists. And you might not assume so at first glance, but these two groups of people actually have more in common than you think.
The Four Things I Appreciated Most About The Last Pilgrims
- The period piece feel of the book. I am a sucker for period pieces, historical fiction, historical non-fiction, and any book that tells a good story with historical context weaved throughout. The Last Pilgrims actually takes place in the future, but because of the agrarian setting is feels like 500 years in the past.
- Discusses a "collapse" without the paranoia. The story is set twenty years after the breakdown of the industrial society that we know today. Because of this it would be really easy for it to slip into the crazy conspiracy theory and paranoia-oriented post-apocalyptic fiction genre. Fortunately, Mr. Bunker writes the scenario in a very realistic, matter-of-fact way that focuses more on the sustainability of this new life than it does the paranoid zombie conspiracy theories.
- Action as part of a good plot line. I almost never reach for an action-packed thriller first when I need a good read. Perhaps this is the reason I was a bit skeptical of the book. It’s not you, it’s me. But I was really pleased to find the action, battles, and suspense in The Last Pilgrims done tastefully and not at the cost of character development or a real, engaging plot line.
- Humor balances the drama. Humor is used throughout the book, mostly via witty banter between the characters. This makes the storyline just feel more real, engaging, and light enough to balance out the very real and serious drama playing out.
So, if you are looking for some good fiction I definitely recommend getting a copy of The Last Pilgrims. I can wholeheartedly say the story itself stands on its own as engaging, well-rounded, and well written.
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