Time for the another look at the dystopic future world of Greg Rucka and Michael Lark's series Lazarus. The titular Lazarus is a woman called Forever "Eve" Carlyle, the youngest of the five Carlyle children, genetically modified to have superhuman strength and speed as well as being able to recover from lethal injuries just short of decapitation. The world she lives in sees every country ruled over by either a single family or split amongst a couple, this providing the main conflict of the series as the former USA and Canada are divided between the Carlyles who own most of the west and their bitter enemies the Hock family who run the eastern side. In the last volume we find out that apart from Eve the rest of the Carlyles are very long lived and Jakob Hock had taken the errant Carlyle, Jonah, prisoner in an attempt to unlock the secret of their long lives. A Conclave was called in book 3 and Eve defied orders from her father to assassinate Jonah and let him escape. After a duel with Sonia Bittner, Lazarus for Hock's allies the Bittner family which Eve won, Jakob was ordered to give up all the research he got from Jonah. Instead he spat some kind of poison at Malcolm Carlyle and declared war on his family, which, thanks to various treaties and alliances would drag several other families into the conflict as well and it is some weeks later with war in progress and Malcolm still incapacitated that we begin Book 4.
This book also reintroduces us to the two characters Michael and Casey who first appeared in book 2. Formerly of the social class "Waste", they were elevated into "Serfs" during the annual Lift; Michael on merit due to his extreme intelligence and Casey on Eve's recommendation after she bravely took down a suicide bomber. Michael is now studying medicine at Stamford university and Casey is in the army.
Before the "Poison" arc starts proper, we have another interlude, this one called "Mercy". It follows the group of nuns who travel around the former US giving medical aid to those who can't otherwise access it. The story is told via one of the nun's journals as well as computer readouts and online conversations. They are travelling into Hock territory, which is the most hostile of the three that control various parts of the US and Mexico.
|The mysterious virus is delivered|
The Poison arc then starts in a place called "Duluth". Carlye and Hock forces have engaged each other there, Carlyle hold the city and have to stop it falling to Hock or the whole tide of the battle will turn. Casey's unit is fighting there and pitched combat takes place in the snowy town.
|Fighting in Duluth.|
Eve: "The war... it isn't going well. You planned for this.. I know you did...you had a plan. What do I do daddy. Tell me what I should do..."
We then cut to Lazarus Sonia Bittner, her family having come over to Carlyle's side. She is being purged of all Hock's chemical treatments which is somewhat unpleasant for her.
|Eve looks in on Sonia.|
The war briefing mainly focuses on Duluth and how losing it would be "catastrophic". They'd lose a supply line and Hock would have a foothold in their territory they could resupply from and begin a full blown invasion. The tactic now is to clear Hocks air defence their so they can safely resupply and reinforce the troops there. The decision is made to send Eve to Duluth.
Eve leaves and bumps into her sister Johanna who is a little annoyed she wasn't invited to the briefing, Eve brushes her off. She goes into to see her brother Stephen who as the eldest is running the family now. Stephen is being reassured by his male lover Rihan that he is a better man than his father.
|Johanna, Stephen and Rihan.|
Irritated, Stephen asks what she wants. She says she wants to help, but he and Eve won't let her and Eve just blew her off. "She not supposed to be able to do that" she says. Stephen says she should concentrate on keeping her domain secure and leave running the war to him. She says she gets the feeling that since the Conclave, Eve has been telling him Johanna's help isn't wanted. But "she's not in charge of the family right now.. you are."
We then find out what Michael has been up to, he's been attending Stamford University. As he walks chatting with a friend, the principal brings Bethany to meet him. He's been doing some theoretical work on "rapid in vivo predication and response in the HLA-complex". She tells him to pack a bag and come with her.
|Stephen is recruited by Bethany.|
Eve: "Together we are going to secure Duluth and kill every last Hock son of a bitch we can find".
We then jump forwards to Eve taking out a squad of Hock soldiers. She returns and the whole squad move out on patrol.
|A Lazarus in action.|
He examines him and says it's a systemic attack and is it adapting on the genetic level? Bethany says it is hence their interest in his work. She tells him this is the probably the best equipped research laboratory in the world, he will have anything he needs to cure Malcolm.
Back in Duluth, Eve and the squad hunker down in a wrecked building until nightfall. Casey asks if Eve remembers her. Eve gives a potted account of Casey's experiences at the Lift and says, "we both know what it means to fight despite the pain". Casey smiles to herself.
Then we cut to Johanna meeting up with her brother Jonah's ex-bodyguard. He says she betrayed him, he turned on her brother for her and now he's mopping floors. She says he can have it all back if he does one little thing for her...
Stephen is talking with a man called Edgar (Morray) about the war situation. Bittner has collapsed in western Europe and D'Souza has been able to focus their attention to his forces in the south. They need reiforcements. Stephen isn't sure they can spare anyone. Edgar says Malcolm had a plan for this, and Stephen says well he didn't share it with him. The conversation ends, and Rihan comes in and comforts Stephen.
|Stephen feels the pressure.|
In Duluth, Eve and her squad take down another Hock one. Eve then says their intel is soft but the first air defence emplacement is about a klick and a half away. Suddenly one of the not quite dead Hock soldiers puts a bullet right through Eve's brain. The others shoot him then go to their fallen commander who shows no signs of life.
When the unit realise she might actually be really dead, they decide to carry on their mission. Casey takes control. There are protests:
Casey: "We have our mission and we are going to complete it. So grab your straws and suck it the fuck up."
They move out and leave Eve's body behind taking her sword with them. Bethany contacts Stephen and tells him that they have lost Eve. She wants to know if they should activate the "termination protocols."
The first protocol is to recover the body, which Stephen points out is in the middle of a warzone. Stressed he says he'll inform Johanna who is having dinner with Jonah's former bodyguard Mason. She authorises him to do something nefarious saying she update his chipset, he's to tell anyone who stops him that he's to escort "her" to Johanna. He'll then bring her to Vancouver where she'll be waiting to "auction her off to the highest bidder." Mason reluctantly agrees.
|Johanna plots away.|
Casey's team creep through he snow in Duluth and make it to the first air battery, "now what?" one of them asks. Then we cut to a Hock unit finding Eve's body. Back at the medical facility James realises what happened, Eve stopped taking her treatment regime, She's still going to recover it's just the process has been "retarded."
And Eve comes to and attacks the soldiers who found her. She is feral to start with, but as James and Michael monitor her, her memories and personality come back online as well and James sends Michael to fetch Bethany. He leaves and bumps into Mason who is sneaking about the facility. Eve takes out the whole unit with ease and stands recovered, thinking about what to do next before walking out into the streets of Duluth.
She says Stephen will reassure them, Arthur says "we both know he won't." He suggest Bethany would make a better family leader in these circumstances. She says Stephen won't voluntarily step down, and they'd never convince him. Arthur shows her something on a computer pad and tells her to talk to him and do it soon.
In Duluth Casey's team move ever closer to their target. They discuss their plan, and the new guy admits he really doesn't want to be here. "Join the fucking club" says Casey. At Carlyle headquarters Johanna finds Stephen's lover Rihan. She says to him "I know why you haven't told him". She says she knows he didn't tell Stephen because he might do something rash and send him to James for treatment:
Johanna: "And because you love him as much as he loves you...you don't want to get him into trouble."
Rihan takes the data pad. He says he and Stephen have been together for twenty years. Malcolm allows it but they are forbidden to marry. "I'm a serf. That's all your family will let me be".
He says the tremors are getting worse and he's having a hard time maintaining his balance. Stephen hasn't noticed yet because he's been so overwhelmed with the war. He asks if Johanna is going to tell him. She say no, she is offering a deal. We don't find out what it is, because we see Rihan leave.
Elsewhere, Sonia, Marisol and Michael are relaxing and chatting. Sonia says she has two sisters, Michael says he has none now. Marisol is an only child. Sonia says she and her sisters have never met their father, her mother says there would be "no point". Marisol picks up a message and leaves saying she forgot to take care of something.
Mason is in a restricted area. Suddenly Marisol attacks him and disarms him when she tells him he doesn't have the priviledges to be there. He tries to tell her Johanna sent him, but she shoots him in the face.
|One loose end dealt with.|
In Duluth, Casey's team finally engage the enemy. Under supressing fire "new guy" sneaks in and attaches an explosive to the air battery. He slips away and there is a big explosion. The team pull back and meet up again with New Guy. Then their escape route is cut off by a tank. It fires but not at them, at the Hock troops coming up behind them. When they are all dead, Eve stands up in it and politely asks Casey for her sword back.
Eve sits on the tank and gobble some rations. Casey tells her they really thought she was dead, she asks what happened "I made a mistake" says Eve (in the previous book Jonah planted the seeds of doubt over just what the treatments she takes are actually for). They are going to attack another battery tommorrow and she orders them all to get some sleep while she is look-out.
|Eve back in control.|
Michael goes to see Bethany who is by her father's bedside. He asks for some of her DNA. She says DNA comparison has been tried and didn't work. He knows that but because the toxin is so adaptable Hock must have used DNA from a member of the family to create it. Bethany realises, "he fucking mapped Jonah". They rush out of the room.
In Duluth Eve and her team use the tank to advance on the next air battery. It comes under heavy fire and they move on to take a bunker in a strategic position. The tank is taken out but not before they've blown a hole in the bunker. Then they rush with Eve in the lead and finish the rest off. Eve tells them to fall back to this position, she's going to take out the fire team.
At the meeting, Carragher points out that their coalition is under fire across the world and it looks like Carlyle territory is about to be overrun and it looks like they are losing the war. Johanna says "looks can be deceiving". And things are about to change,
|In the Hock control room.|
Casey's team are under heavy fire, and one of the is killed so they fall right back into the bunker. Another is taken out, now only Casey and one more is left. Eve takes out the final gun and the air is clear for Carlyle forces to move back into action she orders an air strike on the position she in to take out that gun now it's served it's purpose.
She goes and finds where Casey and the other soldier are holding the line from Hock attack. They move further into the bunker although Eve is hit a few times. Johanna tells the watching people, "the tide just turned". And would they like to stay for dinner to dicuss what to do next?
|Things look grim for Eve.|
Back at the medical facility Michael's idea is working, it seems Malcolm might get better. Marisol appears and says "she's gone walkabout". When James asks how, Marisol says:
Marisol: "She's a fucking Lazarus.. it was only a matter of time before she slipped the leash".
As they order a lockdown and James goes to track "her", we cut to Sonia Bittner praticing with her sword and suddenly a young girl with a sword walks in and introduces herself, "my name's Forever by the way. Nice to finally meet you".
|A new Eve appears...|