A gripping new novel from one of the best-known names in survivalist fiction.
Former Marine-turned-author, G. Michael Hopf grabs readers from page one with his breathtaking blend of action, adventure, and political intrigue. The End—the first book in Hopf ’s New World series—has sold more than 50,000 copies, and word of mouth is quickly building on the series as a whole. In the fourth book, The Line of Departure, the United States is on the brink of total anarchy in the wake of a super-EMP attack. Gordon Van Zandt and his family have managed to beat the odds so far, but can they survive once war erupts?
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G. Michael Hopf is a combat veteran of the U.S. Marines Corps and a former bodyguard. He lives with his family in San Diego.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
As I have mentioned in earlier acknowledgments, writing a novel is something an author doesn’t do completely alone. Yes, the author sits behind the glow of the screen tapping away for what seems like endless hours creating the characters, plot, and story that will eventually become the book. But once that first draft is complete, an author, if he’s doing it correctly, will send it off to a trusted confidante and, in many ways, collaborator: the editor. I have had the honor and great fortune to be surrounded by an incredible editorial team at Plume. I don’t know all of their individual names, but the one person who has worked with me to ensure that my novels have been readable, richer, and top-notch has been Kate Napolitano, editor at Plume. Her careful eye and attention to detail has aided me in making The Line of Departure the great book it is. She worked closely with me, pushing and encouraging me as I went through the most extensive rewrite I’ve ever done in my life. It was her insistence and vision that the book could be better that led to the book you’re about to read. When I turned it in originally, it was a totally different book. I want to thank her from the bottom of my heart for being open, honest, and professional, as an editor should be.
I am often asked for advice by aspiring writers. Besides my typical response of “Just write,” I now follow up by saying, “Get an editor—they’re a priceless asset to your team.”
Thank you, Kate, and thank you, editorial staff at Plume.
OCTOBER 19, 2066
· · ·
McCall, Idaho, Republic of Cascadia
Hunter Rutledge exited the warmth of the aircraft only to be greeted by a brisk wind. He lifted the collar on his thick wool peacoat and headed toward the lobby of the small airport. He took a deep breath and tried to prepare himself for the unknown. McCall had played a large part in his family’s history, but this was the first time he had stepped foot here. There was nothing like the promise that something “life changing” had happened to encourage him to seek out his roots, and that’s exactly what had been promised to him by his brother, Sebastian. Even after badgering him for more information about what possibly could be in McCall that needed his immediate attention, Sebastian stood firm and said it would be better for Hunter to come see himself. How could anyone turn down an invite promising something so profound? Curiosity got the best of him, and so he soon found himself on a small plane, unsure of what to expect.
As he strode toward the terminal building, the first thing that struck him was how small a place it was. It surprised him, especially considering what he had seen on his flight. As his plane made its approach, he had peered out the window like a small child, eager for the view. He marveled at the size of Long Valley, how it stretched north for miles on end. An early dusting of snow capped the exposed granite tops of the two mountain ranges on either side; the white transitioning to the deep green of the pines, then segueing into the patchwork of browns, tans, and greens of the valley floor. He took in every mountain, road, and building he could until they landed just south of town.
Hunter was the deputy chief of mission for the embassy, a busy man whose schedule was dictated by political turmoil—and in this day and age, there seemed to be a nonstop supply. If he didn’t have such a great relationship with the ambassador, he wouldn’t have been able to make the trip to McCall. His original itinerary took him back to Austin, Texas, today, but when he asked for some leave due to personal family issues, the ambassador granted it without discussion. Hunter was a consummate professional, never one to take a day off, so for him to ask for leave meant that it was something serious. It was just too bad that he didn’t know what this serious thing could be.
Just a few feet shy of the entrance he stopped and took in his surroundings. “So this is the fabled McCall,” he said to himself.
A large man wearing an orange vest opened the door and said cheerfully, “Welcome to McCall! What brings you here?”
Hunter looked around the sparse lobby of the terminal. Small red leather-bound chairs lined the walls, interrupted every few feet by tiny tables covered with magazines and newspapers. In the corner of the room was a counter with old computer monitors and behind it a board listed arrivals and departures. He took notice that the board only listed one other arrival coming in later in the day, and the only departing flight was for tomorrow morning.
Realizing that he hadn’t promptly answered the man’s question, he said, “Sorry, I was expecting to meet someone here.”
“No one here but us,” the man said, shrugging his shoulders.
Hunter shook his head, exasperated. Sebastian told him he’d be there upon his arrival, but being typical Sebastian, he was late.
· · ·
Hunter looked at his watch and grimaced. Sebastian was now two hours late. He couldn’t wait any longer, not when he was this anxious. After asking for directions, he departed the terminal and headed toward town. He chuckled to himself when he saw the street sign for Van Zandt Boulevard. His own family namesake, emblazoned for all to see.
As he walked, the occasional truck or car drove past, but as a whole, the town seemed sleepy and quiet. Large ponderosa pine trees towered over the houses and small commercial spaces that fronted the street. He had heard so many stories about McCall over the years—it had given his mother a place to call home as a child and was the birthplace of their republic. It was hard for him now to see how this tiny mountain town could have been so instrumental in the beginnings of a new country. The town had a population of less than seven thousand people, but those people had the vision and drive to be independent from the tyrannical forces that collided during the Great Civil War. McCall may not have started as a unique place, but it became pivotal because of one person: his grandfather, Gordon Van Zandt.
Hunter inhaled deeply through his nose. The fresh smell of the alpine air invigorated him. He strode closer to the lake, taking mental notes on restaurants and bars he saw along the way. He wasn’t sure how long he’d be in town, and knowing where to eat and, more specifically, where to grab a drink was a priority.
The blare of a truck’s horn startled him and brought him to the present. He turned in the direction of the sound and saw an old Ford coming his way. Its side panels were decayed from rust, its blue paint faded to the point that primer now showed. The years of being subjected to the harsh conditions of the mountains had taken its toll on the truck, clearly.
“Bro, I’m so sorry. I’m such an ass. I was tied up!” Sebastian hollered out from the cab.
Hunter peered at his baby brother’s beard-covered face. “You are an ass. And a late one at that.”
Sebastian leaned over and unlocked the passenger-side door. Hunter tossed his duffel into the bed and got in. “So. I’m here. What the hell is up?”
“Nice to see you too,” Sebastian joked, making a U-turn in the road and heading south out of town.
“I’m starving. If you’re not going to tell me what’s up, can we at least stop and get something to eat?” Hunter said.
“No time! Where we’re going there’s plenty of food,” Sebastian said happily.
Hunter rolled his eyes. As much as he loved his brother, they were very different people. Sebastian took after his grandfather in his demeanor and thirst for adventure. He loved life and wanted nothing more than to see the world. As soon as he was of age he had left home and never looked back. Now in his mid-twenties, he had finally taken interest in his roots, and this desire for knowledge had taken him to McCall. Hunter was the polar opposite—steadfast, reliable, and grounded. He knew every detail about the Van Zandt and Rutledge families. It was a priority for him to maintain the reputation the name gave him. He was proud of his family’s history, regardless of current revisionism taking place in the media.
“So, where the hell have you been?” Hunter asked.
“I just saw Mom and she’s worried about you. You need to call her,” Hunter chided.
Sebastian cut him a look and answered, “I love Mom, but”—he paused, clearly trying to figure out how to present the information—“it’s just . . . she hasn’t been honest with us. That’s part of the reason why I asked you to come here.”
“What are you talking about?”
“What she told us about Grandma and Granddad were not true. To be blunt, I now question everything she ever told us.”
Hunter pursed his lips. “Mom’s been through a lot. I don’t know what you’re talking about, but right now she’s being interviewed by the paper about the family, about everything.”
“Really? I wonder if she’ll tell the truth.”
Sebastian took a left off the highway and headed east. The one-lane county road was paved but the lack of maintenance made for a bumpy ride. The towering ponderosa pines were now gone, replaced by the tall grasses and small shrubbery of the open valley.
“If you’re not telling me what we’re doing, can you at least tell me where we’re going?”
“Almost there, calm down! You’re going to love it here. McCall is a great place—I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to get here. I’ve learned so much about the family since I’ve been here.”
“Since when have you given two hoots about the family?” Hunter asked, an edge in his tone.
“I know I’ve not been the best brother or son, but when I was in New Zealand a few months back, I had a chance encounter with this woman—”
“How surprising,” Hunter interjected. Sebastian had a reputation for being a playboy.
“It’s not like that. She was an older woman, and she knew the family. She had known Granddad, Hunter.”
“I knew that would pique your interest.”
“I hope it’s not another person claiming how bad he was. I’m sick of hearing that side of the story.”
“I’ve heard the stories. But what if I was to tell you there’s a different perspective?” Sebastian said as the truck slowed and pulled into a gravel driveway.
Sebastian stopped the truck in front of a metal gate and got out to unlock it, hollering at Hunter to drive the truck in. Once the gate was secure again, Sebastian jumped into the passenger side and instructed him to drive.
Hunter paused. He trusted his brother but the entire situation made him uneasy. He peered down the long drive; mature groves of aspen trees to either side gave it an ominous look.
“C’mon, let’s go. You’re hungry and I got to use the bathroom,” Sebastian urged.
Hunter put the truck in gear and drove down the driveway. After a quarter mile, the green metal roof of a house came in view. His curiosity was at a high. He leaned in and stared as more and more of the house came into view. It looked very familiar.
“Is this Mom’s old house?”
“I thought . . . I thought Mom said this was gone, that they had sold it.”
“That’s the first lie,” Sebastian blurted out.
Sebastian’s excitement for what Hunter was about to see couldn’t be contained. “C’mon!” he yelled, and jogged to a side door next to the garage. He pulled out a key and unlocked the door. When the final click of the last tumbler fell on the lock, a bark from a large dog sounded out.
Sebastian grabbed the handle and opened the door slowly so as not to let the dog, a pit bull, out. “Oh, who’s a good boy?” Sebastian said to the dog. The dog wiggled with excitement and licked Sebastian’s hand intensely. The dog’s friendly behavior was the antithesis of its appearance.
“This is Irish,” Sebastian told Hunter.
“Hi, Irish,” Hunter said, just standing behind his brother. He wasn’t much of a dog lover and didn’t have too much experience with them, as their mother, Haley, never allowed them when they grew up.
“It’s Sebastian!” Sebastian called out.
They entered a small mudroom. The only furniture in the small space was a bench, coatrack, and baskets with boots and shoes. Irish bolted ahead of them into the main part of the house. Both men took off their shoes and followed him. The next room they walked into was a large kitchen. The appliances in it were at least fifty years old, but what stuck out was how clean everything was. Whoever lived there took great care to keep it that way. The kitchen opened up to a large great room with twenty-five-foot ceilings. A large rock fireplace and chimney spanned the distance from the ground to the wood-beamed ceiling. From this room, one could sit on the large sectional sofa and overlook the valley and a creek that was a hundred yards off the back of the house. Jug Handle Mountain stood prominently in the distance.
Hunter was captivated by the view and approached the windows to get a better look. It was stunningly beautiful. He was starting to understand what his grandparents saw in this part of Idaho. His awe was shattered when the realities of the years before came crashing down. Off in the distance, under a large pine tree, sat a gated graveyard. The site of graveyards in this age was common. After the lights went out, the luxury of having funeral homes and municipal graveyards disappeared. If someone died in your family they’d have to prepare the body and bury it themselves. But knowing what those graves meant—the history behind them—took Hunter’s breath away.
“Mom said this was a cabin, not a compound,” Hunter remarked.
“This house is huge. What do you think, three-thousand-plus square feet?” Hunter asked out loud.
“More like four thousand,” a voice echoed from the hall beyond.
Hunter turned around quickly. The hallway was dark, but in the shadows a person moved slowly toward them.
Hunter’s heart pounded with anticipation as an elderly man with a cane appeared. The man walked up to Hunter and outstretched his hand.
Hunter was confused; there was something about his weathered face that seemed so familiar. When his eyes fell on a scar on the man’s right cheek, his stomach dropped. It can’t be, he thought to himself. He was dead. His mother had told him he had died years before. History books had talked about his demise. There had been a state funeral. His mother told him about how sad the republic had been when one of its founding fathers had passed. So many questions came rushing at him; he was overwhelmed with confusion.
“Granddad, it can’t be you. You’re supposed to be dead!” Hunter exclaimed in disbelief.
“You can’t always believe what you read,” Gordon said.
Hunter was in shock, but he extended his hand to his grandfather’s and shook it. Gordon gripped it tightly.
“Let’s go sit in my office,” Gordon recommended. He led them down the hallway to a set of large double doors that opened to a dimly lit space. The smell of cigar smoke wafted over Hunter. In the room were two large leather chairs with matching leather ottomans. Both were positioned in front of ano...
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Book Description Plume Books 2015-06-02, 2015. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Paperback. Publisher overstock, may contain remainder mark on edge. Bookseller Inventory # 9780142181522B
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Book Description Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 2015. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. A gripping new novel from one of the best-known names in survivalist fiction. Former Marine-turned-author, G. Michael Hopf grabs readers from page one with his breathtaking blend of action, adventure, and political intrigue. The End the first book in Hopf s New World series has sold more than 50,000 copies, and word of mouth is quickly building on the series as a whole. In the fourth book, The Line of Departure, the United States is on the brink of total anarchy in the wake of a super-EMP attack. Gordon Van Zandt and his family have managed to beat the odds so far, but can they survive once war erupts?. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780142181522
Book Description Penguin Group USA, 2015. PAP. Book Condition: New. New Book. Shipped from US within 10 to 14 business days. Established seller since 2000. Bookseller Inventory # VP-9780142181522
Book Description Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 2017. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. A gripping new novel from one of the best-known names in survivalist fiction. Former Marine-turned-author, G. Michael Hopf grabs readers from page one with his breathtaking blend of action, adventure, and political intrigue. The End the first book in Hopf s New World series has sold more than 50,000 copies, and word of mouth is quickly building on the series as a whole. In the fourth book, The Line of Departure, the United States is on the brink of total anarchy in the wake of a super-EMP attack. Gordon Van Zandt and his family have managed to beat the odds so far, but can they survive once war erupts?. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780142181522
Book Description Penguin Group USA, 2015. PAP. Book Condition: New. New Book.Shipped from US within 10 to 14 business days. Established seller since 2000. Bookseller Inventory # IB-9780142181522
Book Description Penguin Random House. Book Condition: New. Brand New. Bookseller Inventory # 0142181528
Book Description Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 2017. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. A gripping new novel from one of the best-known names in survivalist fiction. Former Marine-turned-author, G. Michael Hopf grabs readers from page one with his breathtaking blend of action, adventure, and political intrigue. The End the first book in Hopf s New World series has sold more than 50,000 copies, and word of mouth is quickly building on the series as a whole. In the fourth book, The Line of Departure, the United States is on the brink of total anarchy in the wake of a super-EMP attack. Gordon Van Zandt and his family have managed to beat the odds so far, but can they survive once war erupts?. Bookseller Inventory # BZV9780142181522
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