Of Ashes and Dust

Fiction - Thriller - Conspiracy
260 Pages
Reviewed on 03/27/2023
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Author Biography

Associate Professor of English, ESL, and Humanities Ron Roman taught with the University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC- Asia) since 1996. He retired from full-time employ and later as adjunct during the COVID-19 crisis (2020). His hobbies include jogging, hiking, camping, weightlifting, roller-coasters--and his beloved 1968 Rambler American antique auto for which he received Third Prize in the Hemmings (Motor News) National Antique Auto Show in Bennington, Vermont shortly before returning overseas. (The Rambler is currently undergoing complete restoration.)

He has written extensive travel, academic, and political articles for regional, national, and international publications. He studied writing (both non-fiction and creative) for his third graduate degree (Humanities) from Wesleyan University/Connecticut. Currently he resides in South Korea with his wife where he works on US military installations assisting US military retirees and dependents. He continues to write and has acted in numerous Korean TV dramas and motion pictures like Operation Chromite portraying Admiral Forrest Sherman opposite Liam Neeson as General Douglas MacArthur. His alternate-history apocalyptic doomsday thriller Of Ashes and Dust was published November 2022 by Histria Books.

    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Of Ashes and Dust is a work in the thriller, apocalyptic action, and alternate-history subgenres. It is best suited to mature adult readers owing to the presence of explicit language and some scenes of graphic violence, and moderate sexual references. Penned by Ron Roman, this thrilling tale takes us back to the millennium on an alternate timeline where the world is about to plummet into global Armageddon. Professor Will Watson takes center stage as our protagonist, a tortured veteran selected for the top-secret Vietnam war project: Project Sixty-Seven. As the world around him collapses, Will must face painful truths about himself and work together with his lover to survive it all.

Ron Roman has crafted a recent-historical disaster novel that works on so many levels and manages to incorporate so much thoughtful theming and emotion into its relatively concise plot. One of the most striking things about the work for me was the presentation of social issues, attitudes, and global ideas that were brewing dangerously during the time of the millennium that is still a threat now, which brings huge relevance to the action-packed conspiracy storyline. The issues which explore LGBTQ+ themes in the American military are also poignantly discussed and interesting to see as Will rakes over his past. As a central protagonist, Will has much to offer us in his vulnerability, openness, and capability as an unlikely hero. Overall, I recommend Of Ashes and Dust to fans of apocalyptic dramas with a deeply rooted emotive character story at the core.

Alma Boucher

Of Ashes and Dust by Ron Roman is an apocalyptic story about anarchy and chaos turning America upside down. Three people are struggling for survival, and each one of them had secrets that will influence the other's life. Will Watson and Mark Mercotti were both in Vietnam and share an interest in UFOs and government secrets. Shocking secrets from two classified projects during the Vietnam War are revealed. Will cannot remember anything about the events and is tormented by nightmares. Will lands a teaching job at Swenson College in New Hampshire, where he meets Kimiko Tanimoto. They are attracted to each other, despite the age difference between them. The Liberty Militia is established by the residents of Springvale after the government threatens to tighten gun laws.

Of Ashes and Dust was engaging with a complex plot. Ron Roman has a strong military background and, with his vivid imagination, he has written an outstanding story. The events were detailed and I was engrossed in a world that was spinning out of control. This thriller was fast-paced and jam-packed with action. With all the twists, I never knew what would happen next, and there was always a surprise waiting. The characters were authentic and relatable. There were subtle hints that Mark was attracted to Will. Kimiko was not impressed with this but remained friends with Mark. I did not see the major twist coming at the end, and it was a big surprise. The ending was brilliant and fitting for this story.

Keith Mbuya

Recently divorced and not able to secure a full-time job, Professor William Watson, a Vietnam War veteran, was struggling to hold his life together. When he finally landed a job at a college in Springvale, New Hampshire, his life changed. With the ongoing tensions in the country over issues such as gun laws, militia groups were rapidly sprouting all over the US. In a bid to curb the looming insurrection, the government launched a nationwide crackdown on all the militia groups. As a member of the New Hampshire Liberty Militia, Watson finds himself under the unerring radar of the FBI and BATF – Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. On the other hand, Watson’s friend Mark Mercotti, who is also a Vietnam War veteran and a militia comrade, seems to be loaded with information about secret government operations involving UFOs and alien technology. What does Mark know and could there be something bigger in store for the world? Get yourself Ron Roman’s Of Ashes and Dust to discover how it all goes down.

Lovers of conspiracy thrillers laced with a gripping tale of angry farmers, racists, small-town goons, war veterans, insurrectionists, abusive ex-wives, gold diggers, amusing dates, pundits, good and bad cops, and secrets will find it hard to put down Ron Roman’s Of Ashes and Dust. Roman created an intriguing plot, featuring an exciting group of protagonists. He brings the scenes to life with impressively colorful and vivid descriptions. I relished his insightful commentary on academic and political affairs which gave depth to the storyline. Roman pays great attention to detail without slowing the pace. I loved the way he incorporated a melodramatic effect into the action. The role players were well-crafted and their qualities are expertly explored. Watson’s encounters in both his love life and professional career were highly entertaining. This is a magnificent piece of work and I loved it. I’m looking forward to reading more from this author.