This promising first novel is set in a fragmented post-holocaust America beginning to reawaken to deadly regional rivalries. The ""Fief"" of San Joaquin Valley is alarmed by news of an Eastern researcher's breakthrough in growing crops on the poisoned ""Dead Lands"" that still cover much of the continent. The Fief is based on an unlikely and often uneasy symbiosis of Establishment academics (""Literates"") and a Praetorian Guard of Hell's Angels; the Literates believe that they can create a reasonable and humane society if they can hold out long enough against the militaristic East. The hero is a young Angel sent with two companions to kidnap the crop-growing scientist from an Eastern garrison in the Ozarks. His hazardous odyssey becomes a voyage of internal discovery that awakens him to entirely different loyalties. Wilson, laboring under the inevitable handicaps of a British writer tackling an American ambience, sometimes wanders off into lurid improbabilities. The entire book--rife with Blakean allusions and tributes to transcendent Indian wisdom--could easily have been utter nonsense. What carries the day is Wilson's writing, which is both forceful and shapely without being raucous or mannered. A talent to watch.