There was a very depressing book my parents made me read a little bit of as a child, but I can't quite remember the name. It was kind of an odd fantasy/sci-fi hybrid. It had interweaving plots between characters in a bit of a primitive culture. The societies were superstitious and would perform acts of mutilation on newborn babies, sacrifice of their own children, offering of animals, etc...fearing punishment otherwise from an unknown entity. Some characters would perform magical feats of an elemental or physical nature. I do remember one of the primary characters was killed then reanimated as a zombie, but I have to admit, I had to put the book down at that point, even as a 7 year old I could tell GI Joe had a more coherent plot on a weekly basis (plus no one ever got hit by the laser shots from the guns which was more age appropriate). I do have to admit i'm still fascinated it was so popular. I remember them referring to it something like Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth, but I can't remember the true title. If I think of it i'll update my post.