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Robert Swindells - BROTHER IN THE LAND




Robert Swindells

Brother in the Land

Main Characters: Danny and Ben Lodge, Kim

The scene is set in Skipley, England. One day in October, missiles with thermo-nuclear warheads, enough to kill everybody on earth, are dropped onto any city in Europe. There is also one missile for Branford, a city five miles away from Skipley.



Danny Lodge, a teenager, his seven year old brother Ben and their father, an owner of a shop, have come through the holocaust alive. After burying Danny's mother, he and his family have to learn that only very few people are still alive. Moreover, any building in the city is badly damaged or even destroyed.

About three weeks after the bomb, Danny gets to know a fourteen year old girl called Kim, who lives together with her sister and her sister's man and falls in love with her. She is the first person to explain to Danny that the old rules are no longer valid and that nowadays people have to be very hard and strong in order to survive.

The next day, soldiers come to town. They represent the Local Commissioner and explain that an emergency hospital has been set up adjacent to their new headquarters at Kershaw Farm. In fact, everybody who goes to this new "hospital" is killed by the soldiers. Moreover, many survivors look out for "badgers", people who still live in shelters. They often kill them in order to take away their food and clothes.

Some weeks later, the soldiers return. They explain that a registration point has been set up and that they would collect food and fuel for fair distribution. But once again, the soldiers lie to Skipley's population - they put poison into lonely or weak persons' food. Nevertheless, most people still come to the food distribution because they don't have any other chance to stay alive.

One day, Ben suddenly realises that his mother is dead. As the Lodges visit her grave, they meet an old man called Branwell who tells them a quotation - "He who places his brother in the land is everywhere". It means that all over the world people bury their deaths just as the Lodges did.

One week later, the Lodges' shop is attacked by soldiers, who take everything out of their cellar. For some reason, they also take Danny's father with them and drive away. Unfortunately, the car is attacked and the father dies in an explosion. It was Rhodes, a former PE teacher at Danny's school, who led the attack against the soldiers. Branwell, the man Danny met at his mother's grave, is also here, seems to command Rhodes and explains that he is really sorry for what happened. Moreover, he wants Danny to join his organisation "Masada" (Movement to Arm Skipley Against Dictatorial Authority) in order to fight the soldiers and survive. At first Danny isn't sure whether to do so but when he hears that Kim is also one of them, he agrees. Branwell tells him everything about Masada and its members - they have many weapons, an own "hospital" with two nurses and are just mending some cars.

The day after Christmas soldiers come to town once again and explain that from now on, everybody who wants to eat has to come to Kershaw Farm in the morning and work. Of course, nobody from Masada joins these workers, but most inhabitants do. As the soldiers want to build a new farm, these people have to carry away the top two inches of soil which are full of radioactive particles working with their bare hands mostly.

            One day, Danny, Rhodes and four other men try to attack a tank and four motorbikes. Danny gets knocked out and wakes up again imprisoned by the soldiers. Booth, a boy from Danny's school, has to interrogate him but later tells his commander that Danny doesn't know anything about Masada. When Booth is told to kill Danny, he takes him to Kershaw's border, shoots in the air and lets Danny go.

Things are getting harder for Masada. As the soldiers put poison into Masada's well, there's only very little water left, and people often drink from radioactive puddles. Furthermore, there are "purples" - cannibals, people who look for lonely persons, kill and eat them. One day, Ben is also captured by purples, but fortunately Danny is able to rescue him.

            Branwell and Rhodes work out a plan. They want to take over Kershaw Farm and rescue the people working there. After having prepared the weapons and cars, they start. Although Danny is shot into the arm, the plan works fine and Masada takes about seventy prisoners. Besides, Booth died in the fights. Most people who still live in Skipley comprehend what happened and three weeks later, there are already four hundred people living at Kershaw Farm.

Time goes by. In August, the people at Kershaw Farm have to learn that their vegetables aren't developing properly. They are very irritated and don't know how to go on.

People once again have hopes when Swiss soldiers come to Kershaw Farm with helicopters and tanks. They explain that there are groups like Masada all over Europe too. But finally, everything they do is, they immobilise the vehicles, take away the weapons and leave.

In December, Kim's sister gives birth to her baby. It has no mouth and dies almost as soon as it is born. In the same night, Branwell also dies and Danny and Kim decide to leave Kershaw Farm together with Ben, try to live as some kind of family and make a place for them somewhere.

            On their way, Ben begins to lose his hair. When they finally find an empty house, Ben dies and is buried in the house's garden - in the land. Danny finds a book and begins to write down his story. Maybe, much later, someone would find it and the book could prevent people from doing things like this once again.




 

Characters

Danny Lodge:

In the beginning, Danny is a very naive person. He doesn't realise that there are no rules anymore, everybody has to care for himself and find his own way to survive in this new, chaotic world. Of course, at first his father makes the decisions, but when he's also killed, Danny's situation changes dramatically.

Although it must be incredibly hard for him, Danny stays calm and really thinks about his and Ben's future. This shows that inside, Danny is a very strong person. But I think that at first Ben is the only reason for his going on. Without Ben, if he for example would have also been killed, Danny wouldn't be able to stay alive at all. Although he never shows his real emotions, Danny loves his brother enormously.

Later, Danny meets Kim and falls in love with her. At first, she seems to be quite brutal to him, but Danny soon understands that she has just realised their new situation.

Although Danny often seems to be gullible, he is very intelligent, too. This is proved by the fact that he's one of the first persons to realise that one day Masada will decay. He knows that it's going to end "not with a bang but a whimper".

Ben Lodge:

Ben is Danny's seven year old brother. His mother dies on the first day of the whole catastrophe, but he realises it weeks later, one day he asks Danny "Where's Mum?". This shows that he can't cope with his current situation, he's so shocked, he doesn't even know that his mother's dead. Later, his father is also killed. Now, Danny is the only family member left, he has to care for him, he's his best friend. Ben really loves and adores him, which makes things a little bit easier for Danny.

I don't think that Ben knows that he's going to die due to his illness. I think in the end his a happy child and also dies happy.

Kim:

Kim is approximately as old as Danny. She doesn't fall in love with him at once but by the time she learns to love him. Her parents were also killed but her elder sister takes care of her. Nevertheless she learns that things change much faster and easier than Danny. This is proved by the fact that she also tries to make that clear to him when she meets him for the first time and tells him things like "Gentlemen are out, cavemen rule, okay?" or "We've got to be as hard as they are, Danny Boy - or harder.".

Furthermore, Kim's very important for Danny. Unless he had got to know Kim, he would probably never have joined Masada and his life would have taken another (likely worse) course.

My Opinion

I really liked the book "Brother In The Land". It's written very good and reading the hard‑hitting story is thrilling. Robert Swindells is able to describe scenes very well and after reading the book you ask yourself how the future looks like, if mankind is one day really going to be killed in a nuclear war.

Moreover, it's interesting to see how the characters act being confronted with such a miserable future.

I think the book is quite true to life and things could really happen as described in it. Probably there would really be groups like Masada be founded everywhere.

I can only recommend this book to everybody I know, it's thrilling and also makes you think about our future.










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