Hundreds of years after civilisation has been destroyed by nuclear war, the Earth is divided between the Trackers of the Amtrak Federation – a community living in vast subterranean cities – and the Mutes, who have evolved to withstand the radiation that has driven their foes underground. A long war for possession of the overground has killed and enslaved many of the Mutes, leaving only the Plainfolk to resist the Federation. And now the Iron Masters – a powerful people living in the traditions of the Samurai – have joined the struggle for dominance.
Steve Brickman, a Tracker wingman who has formed a bond with the Plainfolk Mute clan M'Call, has become embroiled in a web of deceit, double bluffing, and lies. Now an agent of AMEXICO, a secret intelligence force of the Amtrak Federation, he has had to walk a fine line between his divided loyalties. Struggling to be true to his own people, Brickman strives to protect his one-time mentor Mr Snow, clan M'Call's magically gifted wordsmith, his Mute friend Cadillac, and the object of his desire, the beautiful Clearwater. Together, they all have a part to play in the Mute prophesy of Talisman, the one who will bring peace to the Earth, and turn the red world green once more.
But now Cadillac and Clearwater have been kidnapped by the Iron Masters, a new threat in the power wars of the blue-sky world, and Brickman is determined to save them. With the psychic aid of his kin-sister Roz, and the help of the covert network of AMEXICO spies, he must infiltrate their closed and secretive society. Disguised as a Mute, travelling into the treacherous unknown, he must decide into whose hands to deliver his friends if he manages to save them; his AMEXICO handlers, who believe he is working for them? Or to Mr Snow, anxiously awaiting the return of his two disciples, the hope of the clan M'Call?
Iron Master, first published in 1987, is the third instalment of Patrick Tilley's internationally best selling science fiction epic, The Amtrak Wars Saga.