Reviewed by Dr. Wesley Britton
The End of Days, book Three of the Dictator of Britain trilogy, opens much like volume one, The Rise to Power. This means author Paul Michael Dubal introduces us to many of his characters, both established and new, in a variety of settings that give us an extensive overview of life in England after the ascendency of Fascist Lawrence Pelham to power. Dubal presents the circumstances of what is happening to whom ranging from dictator Pelham arguing with his doomed wife and equally doomed lover to imprisoned dissident Harry Clarke being prepped for his trial to Clarke’s 12 year old son learning medicine in a deportation camp. While it’s clear the monstrous Pelham still has a strong grip on power, Dubal shows us the growing cracks in the foundation of that power, in particular, the beginnings of rebellion from Pelham’s own cabinet.
This rebellion is most obvious in the actions of Eleanor Beaufort, the Secretary of State for Health, who is beginning to realize her own compliance with what she learns about an often fatal man-made disease being spread around the deportation camps. After Pelham has both his wife and lover murdered, he attempts to rape Beaufort just before an assassination attempt orchestrated by Pelham’s power hungry Deputy PM, Giles Chamberlain, changes everything.
For example, can anything save Harry Clarke after he’s caught, convicted, and sentenced to execution? Is Pelham so insane that he’d actually release the artificially created virus in Europe as revenge for the long belated military intervention by the United Nations?
As with the previous two novels, The End of Days is so startling and worrisome because so much of what happens is entirely believable. This is especially true when people of good will stand back and allow tyranny to have its way unchallenged. Admittedly some scenes are a tad melodramatic and thus erode a little of the book’s verisimilitude. On the other hand, I was amazed and disturbed to read a speech from Pelham where he explains his motivations. He makes a lot of sense, at least in terms of the economic erosion of his country. While nothing can justify his barbarism, for one scene Pelham seems far more than a narcissistic and deluded monster. He spins out a believable if grim case for being regarded as an important patriot for England. Some of his complaints should resonate with American readers, especially regarding his unhappiness with political correctness and “fake news.”
Throughout the series, Paul Michael Dubal has created a cast of memorable characters, some of which most readers will end up caring about and hope for salvation in the face of all the carnage and bloodshed. The settings and events are too believable to be dismissed as being unrealistic or far-fetched. In fact, Dubal may be short-selling some matters as with the abilities of the British military. While we can hope the Dictator of Britain books don’t end up being prophetic, no reader can deny how thought-provoking all the events become. How would we behave if faced with similar circumstances? Perhaps the most surprising paragraphs are the final pages when the completely unexpected happens. There’s no way to prepare readers for the final outcome.
This review first appeared at BookPleasures.com on Aug. 29: