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Sunset Warrior Cycle #1

The Sunset Warrior

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Ronin called no man master.
He was the finest swordsman of the Freehold, as sharp and deadly as his blade. Yet as the ancient city faltered, Ronin alone refused to pledge himself to any of the powerful Saardin who ruled the crumbling underground world of levels.
But now dark magic was loose in the world. As the ravings of the Magic Man foretold doom, Ronin and his lover, the sensual K'reen, were swept into a maelstrom of treachery, violence, and sudden death.
Their only hope lay in the lost scroll of the Ancients. And the desperate search led Ronin down into the very bowels of the earth, and up again, to the barrier of Freehold, where the endless ice began . . . .

256 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1977

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About the author

Eric Van Lustbader

214 books1,143 followers
Eric Van Lustbader was born and raised in Greenwich Village. He is the author of more than twenty-five best-selling novels, including The Ninja, in which he introduced Nicholas Linnear, one of modern fiction's most beloved and enduring heroes. The Ninja was sold to 20th CenturyFox, to be made into a major motion picture. His novels have been translated into over twenty languages.

Mr. Lustbader is a graduate of Columbia College, with a degree in Sociology. Before turning to writing full time, he enjoyed highly successful careers in the New York City public school system, where he holds licenses in both elementary and early childhood education, and in the music business, where he worked for Elektra Records and CBS Records, among other companies.


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5 stars
329 (23%)
4 stars
514 (36%)
3 stars
389 (27%)
2 stars
133 (9%)
1 star
37 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 59 reviews
Profile Image for Alexandru Diaconescu.
10 reviews3 followers
August 9, 2013
The title of the book mislead me. As someone pretty familiar with van Lustbader's books, I was expecting another ninja saga but no, this is something different. To my utmost pleasure, I discovered that Eric van Lusbader can write SF, and quality one too. Yes, there is swordmastery there, there is romance, there is mistery and passion and struggle for power and everything you already met in Lustbader's novels, but there is also quest for knowledge among glimpses of ancient technology and fantastic territories that are still to be entirely discovered.
I enjoyed every page of the book and I hope you will too.
Profile Image for Olethros.
2,630 reviews434 followers
June 28, 2014
-El Japón feudal trasladado a un mundo postapocalíptico.-

Género. Narrativa fantástica.

Lo que nos cuenta. Ronin (el nombre ya nos da pistas) es un cualificado espadachín del Feudofranco, un enorme refugio subterráneo en claro deterioro a más de tres kilómetros por debajo de la superficie de una Tierra congelada tras algún tipo de desastre ecológico causado por el hombre en el pasado, que ha decidido no alinearse con ninguno de sus grupos de poder pero que entrará en el juego involuntariamente tras acompañar al curador Stahlig en una visita para atender a un mago que necesita atención médica. Primer libro del Ciclo del Guerrero del Crepúsculo.

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Profile Image for William.
957 reviews40 followers
June 30, 2018
I came to this from "The Ninja Series". SciFi is not my first choice in genre. However, I thought the writing/story telling was fantastic. I still have the books 30 years later.
Profile Image for Gregory Mele.
Author 9 books27 followers
July 5, 2023
Back in High School, during the lost years we call the Reagan Era, I read a modern-era thriller called The Ninja, which was the start of a series of thrillers by Eric Van Lustbader. Full of sex, violence, femme fatales and abused, broken people, it was decidedly NOT targeted at my 14-year-old self, but I loved it! Over the years, I read the sequels it spawned as well as EVL's continuations of Ludlum's Bourne series.

Ironically, as an avid fantasy reader, I've *meant* to read the novel series that launched Lustbader's career for decades but never have, and remembered it again while watching SILO, as it also deals with an underground outpost that might be the last habitation of humans, a lost history of what the world was really like before, or who the 'Freehold's' founders were, and a ruling cabal who may or may not be hiding a secret about what lies above.

Now, beyond that, these two works couldn't be much more different. The disaster of the Sunset Warrior is ecological: an Ice Age, and the world inside its Freehold has no pretenses of democracy; it is a feudal, caste-based society in a world that is definitely science-fantasy, not science fiction, with a crumbling technology whose use and maintenance is increasingly not understood, the use of scrolls and strange technology (or is it magic?), that suggest the world before the collapse was either not our own, or was ours at some equally distant future.

A lot of the set-up feels tropish, until one remembers that the story was written almost 50 years ago, and there are some interesting twists, including the discovery of an even older refuge than the Freehold, although this introduces one major continuity glitch: we are given a vocabulary for how an underground society tracks time in the absence of day and night...but somehow there is a clear, day and night in this deeper world...indeed 'sunset' even triggers an important plot point. But what is this sun or where is real sunlight coming from? There's a suggestion that perhaps there are intentional 'sunroofs' in the refuge, but wouldn't that just let the cold in? Whatever the case, it is never addressed.

As the first of a trilogy, the novel ends on a cliffhanger and a twist-ending that prefigures some of the ideas the author would use ten years later in The Ninja. Not a perfect novel but a compelling, short read and I'll definitely finish the series.
Profile Image for Jim.
132 reviews3 followers
August 5, 2019
This was an an odd book. It is ostensibly a post-apocalyptic adventure, but the standard social tropes get quickly overwhelmed by bizarre timing, broken dialog and an utterly opaque main character.

Over if the things I found hardest to get my head around was the use of immediate flash forwards-a scene will end, then jump to action happening apparently somewhat later, and then jump back in a page or two to fill in the gap.l, showing there was really only a couple of hours difference. Why?

Then there's the dialogue. It's a jumbled mess, at times, where characters are unable to make sentences, and speakers are unmarked, creating utter confusion.

And yet the action is tense, and the world is just unusual enough to remain interesting. It's a fun, if often confusing, sword and sorcery meets Wool kind of book.
Profile Image for Miss.
215 reviews6 followers
January 24, 2013
For a book of only 254 pages, and considering it's written by Eric Lustbader, I was expecting this book to be fast paced, involved and action packed from start to finish. Instead I found that it was quite slow to get into the story and the action. The writing style was also quite choppy for me and I found myself constantly going back a page to see if I'd accidently missed something (I never had). I was so disillusioned with it that up until about 75% through the book I was convinced that I wasn't going to bother with the rest of the series. As it happens, the last 25% of the book moved at a much faster pace, kept me more engrossed, and is ultimately what pulled it up from 2 to 3 stars. Hopefully the next book won't take as long to get into.
Profile Image for Alex.
563 reviews
August 10, 2020
Fun Fallout-type adventure book. Relied too heavily in my opinion on the fact he was making this into a series, it felt kind of like a Marvel movie I didn't have all the lore for and they didn't try to include it all. The writing was a little stiff, but the intrigue of the story was enough to keep me going. I'll probably read at least the next book in the series
Profile Image for HAPPY SHIBE.
4 reviews3 followers
July 25, 2019
As 1977 as the original publication date would suggest. Lots of stilted jargon laden dialogue. Vague 1000s of years old history of the giant underground bunker they live underneath a frozen planet in it might as well be fantasy (and later it is, with mythical creatures showing up). U L T R A C O O L protagonist who is badass at swords and defies the system.

Also, his name is Ronin by the way, and he has no lord he answers to! Maybe this was clever in 1977 when most Americans were unaware of anything culturally Japanese. It all very much feels like a movie from the late 70s or early 80s that should star David Carradine and be shot on location in a salt mine. Overall its pretty cool. Next book is him traipsing around the surface. Much Logan's Run. Many samurai. Wow.
Profile Image for Lesley.
220 reviews2 followers
September 3, 2010
How can a book by one of my favorite authors be this bad?? I got through about 30 painful pages and gave up.
Profile Image for Joel.
89 reviews
May 31, 2019
I read this series long ago, when I started reading adult sci-fi and fantasy books. It was one of my favorites. The first novel holds up pretty well today. One thing I admired was Lustbader's ability to get the story rolling in the first 20 pages. He introduces the main character, you get an idea of his personality and skill, you learn something about the social system and get a sense of who the villains are going to be. After that it rolls on. The characters are appealing, the plot interesting, and the ending climactic and somewhat unexpected (though I knew how it ended this time, of course.)

Yes, there is little artistry, but I don't always demand that from a book. Sometimes artistry leads to 500+ page tomes like the last book I read. This one clocked in a 200 and I was sorry rather than relieved when it ended.
Profile Image for James Traxler.
340 reviews5 followers
May 21, 2019
Science Fantasy.
Set in a world where everyone lives below the surface of the planet, due to problems happening up above millennia earlier.

Reasonably enjoyable.
Not setting the world on fire but pas mal.
I do like the title though :).

I read this first when I was about 16 or something, so several decades ago.
I kept it (and the following two books in the series) and finally reread it this week.
Profile Image for Oscar Lilley.
242 reviews2 followers
March 16, 2021
I was a captive audience for this one. Literally. So under normal circumstances I would never would have read this book. I will never give less than three stars for sci/fan novels because I know how extremely hard Worldbuilding truly is. I'm trying it myself and would be very blessed with a three star rating. Anywho, the premise I just dont buy, and for sci/fan, the suspension of disbelief is the most crucial aspect. You miss that and nothing else about the book matters, no matter how good.
Profile Image for Steven Reiz.
287 reviews1 follower
April 28, 2021
Excellent (start of) a story. It's set on a dystopian future earth, with much less occult stuff and oriental orientation in general than the author's other work (which I often find oppressing). Still pretty violent and gruesome at times, but well-executed, and all the time you have this backdrop unfolding, both the expanding setting and the history of the place. It's a thin book, and after reading it I felt I had only had the introduction, but I'm really looking forward to the other four books.
Profile Image for Hinge Head.
31 reviews1 follower
June 6, 2017
My memory of reading this is that it was pulpy but really enjoyable. Who knows how I'd feel about it now.
Profile Image for Greg.
767 reviews
April 23, 2019
Interesting mix of sci-fi and fantasy. Fascinating fantasy world. Good characters, especially the protagonist.
241 reviews
April 26, 2020
Took quite a while to get into, and was not until near the end of the book that things started to pick up.
Hopefully the subsequent books will continue the pace
Profile Image for Sara Leigh.
418 reviews20 followers
June 18, 2020
I read this when it was first published and loved it! It's a great series.
149 reviews1 follower
June 25, 2020
Excellent story telling really great refreshing writing. Loved it.
Profile Image for Viking Jam.
1,110 reviews16 followers
April 1, 2014

Publisher: Open Road
Publishing Date: March 2014
ISBN: 9781480470897
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 2.5/5

Publisher Description: In an underground world, a rogue swordsman fights to save civilization
Centuries after an ecological calamity turned the surface of the world to ice, mankind has retreated beneath the earth’s crust. In the contained environment of the Freehold, civilization reverts to feudalism and lords known as Saardin maintain their grip on power through the strength of their Bladesmen. Among these subterranean samurai is Ronin, an unaffiliated warrior who lives by his blade alone. When war threatens to engulf the Freehold, this wandering fighter will be called on to save mankind. As battle draws near, Ronin attempts to stay out of the conflict. But in an environment as claustrophobic as this crumbling underground shelter, neutrality is impossible. To prevent what remains of humanity from destroying itself in an underground war, the Bladesman will embark on a quest that takes him to the frozen surface of a forgotten world to feel for the first time the heat of the sun.

Review: No need to read the book after reading the publishers description.
As you can see there are two covers. The horse is pretty cool but has nothing to do with the story as it takes place underground where there are no horsies. The second cover looks like you caught some astronaut dude taking a shit in a space-commode.

This was one choppy read. One second your getting laid along with Ronin and the next sentence you’re talking to Stahlig, the medicine man. The whole novel has weird story-line shifts, as if the author forgot to insert page breaks. In one scene, Ronin declines an invitation to have some wine with his friend, Nirren. Then in the next paragraph he is sharing a cup of wine in Nirrens quarters. Huh?
Borros, the magic man, dies. Then all of a sudden Ronin needs to get back and see him. Huh? And later we find the mad man alive and well where he left him. Fug. Even some of the sentence structure where dialogue occurred was choppy and stilted to the point of incomprehension. I just cruised through those sections hoping all would become clear. Luckily the novel moved at a snails pace in the action department, so you had plenty of time to develop your own story-line to fill in the gaps. Yeah, that’s wrong but sometimes your own imagination suffices in the storm of confusion.

I read where some reviewers had the same issues with this novel and subsequently dropped their ratings. I liked the characters and the story-line but it fell short in terms of cohesiveness. Perhaps the proof reader/editor was a no-show on this one (i.e. snorting coke with orangutans).

K’reen, the hot chick, was scantily clad as well as developed (er, as a character). She could have been a good main character in a supportive role yet was relegated to sex kitten/tantrum bitch. The Salamander could also have been a great character with a bigger than life story-line, but the author chose to limit his development. The author hints that the Salamander likes boyz as evidenced by the toyz in his abode as well as Ronin’s possible reason for leaving his training.

The big glaring hole in the story-line (which may be supported by prior works in the author’s universe) is why the Freehold is in constant training to defend itself. Against what? Where is the threat that could create a long-term warrior society? So you train to become a bladesman, then Chondrin under a Saardin. Why? Where is the supportive logic? Were they historically fighting other Freeholds? Did other Freeholds self-implode (as hinted at) and if so, why?

There is a lot of, secret mincing about, that is tiring as it leads nowhere. Mainly because if you find yourself sneaking along with Ronin, avoiding the shadowy daggam guards and really getting into the story….you suddenly find yourself in an arena fighting for your life and wondering if this is a flashback or a current scene in the story-line.

This novel needs a big reset button on the cover. Keep the story-line, develop the relevant characters, keeps things logically supported and COHESIVE. There, besides solving all the worlds problems I fix shjt I know nothing about.
Profile Image for Rishindra Chinta.
208 reviews8 followers
January 15, 2020
I didn't think it was great but Eric Van Lustbader (I've never read one of his books before, by the way) can write action scenes well. The world building isn't really in-depth, but I'm sure things are fleshed out in the sequels, which I'll definitely get to sometime.
Profile Image for skinwalker musha.
7 reviews6 followers
May 15, 2013
The sunset warrior is about Ronin a warrior would lives in a underground catacomb type world miles below the surface of the world above which is cover with ice now . The story is that a war was fought and all humans and life were wipped out ( and the air became unbreathable for a couple of years ) But what is folk tale and whats true ?
The few that survived built the underground to escape what was to come. Than return to the surface when it was safe. Years pasted and generations as well and only a few know the truth everyone else only knows the underground. No one is allowed to go up above to the surface its against there laws , in this new socitiy of the underground world. But why ? you ask. That comes later in the tale hooked yet ?
We adventure with ronin through the underground learning about him and the world of the underground around him and its workings. A man name boris comes into the infermery injuryed and tells ronin whats really going on and about a prophey and a anicent scroll hidden in a olden city first built in the underground now abandoned which the underground they know now is built on top of. Boris tells ronin to go and find this scroll. Boris also says that the undergorund gournment has been lieing to the people for years keeping them here in the underground knowing the surface is ice over but habitable. But they want to keep control of everyone down in the underground to keep there power in tacted.
Ronin goes on this journey to the lower regions of the underground to the abandoned city in search of this scroll , ronin finds the city fights a great battle , his companion dies and ronin meets a strange little man and his pet and is told tales of the past and and the mysteries unfold. When ronin awakes in the strange little mans house ronin find a special gauntlet as a gift from the little man.
Returning to the upper regions of the underground ronin is escorted to the higher uppes of the underground and asked questions. They knew about his journey but not what it was for but knew it had something to do with boris called the magic man.
There a few of twists and turns in this story that keep it interesting and keep you reading it pays off in the end you won't see lot of things coming.
618 reviews1 follower
May 6, 2020
Genre: a backwards civilization slowly discovers the secrets of a more advanced civilization that preceded it. This is a fairly standard story, with the minor twist that the civilization is modeled after feudal Japan, Samurai included. I was only moderately intrigued, and managed to finish it, but will not be reading any of the sequels.
Profile Image for Paul.
182 reviews
November 10, 2014
The first book in Eric Van Lustbader's Sunset Warrior Cycle begins underground in a self-contained society known as the Freehold. The last refuge of a humanity that was forced from the surface by ecological disaster, the once mighty technology that makes the Freehold run has begun to disintegrate over the centuries since mankind burrowed into the earth's crust for survival. So, too, has the society within, which is beset by the factional squabbles of feuding warlords called Sardin.

Trained by The Salamander, the weapons master of the Freehold, Ronin is the finest Bladesman to walk the corridors of his subterranean world, but he is unaffiliated with any of the Sardin, making him both an asset to be coveted and an enemy to be feared. Ronin's steadfast neutrality is shattered however, when he stumbles into a series of events invovling a mysterious fugitive named Borros, the head of Freehold security, his closest friends, a mysterious city that may exist beneath the lowest levels of the Freehold, and a chance that life on the surface may actually still exist.

"The Sunset Warrior" is a relatively short work, and while quest sagas are nothing new, it is packed with originality, blending dystopian science fiction, samurai lore, sorcery and intrique into a tale that will capture and hold your attention.
Profile Image for Darrell.
374 reviews2 followers
August 21, 2014
I have enjoyed Mr Lustbader's work in the past but this story, while based in an interesting world, was really kinda slow. The story was good enough to get my interest and lead to reading the second book in the series. I hope that the story will pick up and continue to build.

The story centers around a mankind that has moved underground due to the surface becoming un-inhabitable. The reader is introduced to an almost feudal Japan type of world. There are caste systems like bladesman, scholars and workers with a feudal lords overseeing it all. Into this world Ronin lives as a free bladesman. He hasn't given his loyalty to any of the lords and lives in a unique situation. He discovers that there are factions at work in the underground that are leading to a power struggle that will probably lead to civil war. He then begins on a journey and discovers more than he bargained for. He discovers that there are possibly people that are living outside of the underground world. This begins his quest to discover the truth.
Profile Image for Claire.
45 reviews3 followers
May 19, 2019
Ronin lives in an underground complex far below the frozen wasteland. In his strict society he has chosen the path of a fighter, but he has not chosen a leader, which leaves him vulnerable to the machinations of those above him. He stumbles into some of the Freehold's secrets and his life, and everyone else's, will never be the same.

I didn't have very high expectations for this book. For the most part I was pleasantly surprised. It's a bit cheesy and the characters are pretty bare bones, but I enjoy dystopian world building, even if I never had quite enough detail to truly understand the underpinnings of the world.

Unfortunately in the last chapter the author decided the so far completely pointless romantic interest had to have a twist in order to make her inclusion worthwhile. It's a pretty stupid twist. And if the female character and her twist were completely removed it wouldn't change the plot at all, which makes it even stupider.

Overall, it's a fun read if you enjoy post apocalyptic dystopias, but this book doesn't have much else to offer
Profile Image for W.D. III.
Author 5 books25 followers
September 3, 2023
I love The Sunset Warrior by Eric Van Lustbader! I've read it a half-dozen times! (More re-reads than any other book.) Ronin has this vibe that reminded me in ways of Logan in Logan's Run, but with a heavy dose of bad ass. (Now that I think about it, all you comic-book fans, I wouldn't be surprised if I learned that Chris Claremont had read this book before making Wolverine a household name.) Lustbader's background in Japanese history is more buried here, but present if you look for it, giving this post-apocalyptic blend of sci-fi and fantasy world a richer canvas on which to draw out the storyline. Ronin is a master warrior but things are happening that keep him from homing in and using his talents the way they had been intended. The world is dark and, at times, outright scary, when Ronin is faced with inhuman foes that even he cannot overcome. It has twists and turns in the storyline, and surprises in plenty. Highly recommended!
Profile Image for eyes.2c.
2,579 reviews69 followers
March 25, 2014
...in such beginnings, endings are held

'Ronin was dying.' The opening lines. Perhaps not Ronin himself but certainly the way of life in Freehold is in its death throes. The code is under attack. War is coming and with it a breakdown of the old traditions and a replacing with new. Factions are jockeying into key positions. Who is the enemy?
Science and a reason versus mages and magic as Ronin, an unaligned Bladesman is drawn into the secrets of Freehold, its post apocalyptic beginnings and it's failing, the secrets of its
beginnings and the consequences for its future. The descriptive aspects of Freehold and the outside are fulsome and alive. Unfortunately the storyline itself just did not pull me in as I wanted it to.

A NetGalley ARC
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