Valentine's Rising: Book Four of the Vampire Earth
by E.E. Knight
Review by Paul Haggerty
Roc Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 0451460596
Date: 06 December, 2005 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK /
Much has happened to David Valentine since he joined the Southern Command as an eager teenage recruit. And much has happened to the Ozark Free Territories as well. Unfortunately, most of the things have been bad. In this fourth book of the Vampire Earth series, the Ozark Free Territories have fallen before the military genius of one Consul Solon, who has somehow managed to convince several Kur lords to lend him large amounts of troops for a short time, betting his life on his success. And so far, succeed he has. The Kurians are swiftly establishing control over the people, and the last few remnants of Southern Command are being rounded up. Valentine is left with only a handful of troops, next to no supplies, no allies, and nowhere safe to turn. So he does the only logical thing possible: Counterattack.
Valentine's Rising takes place in a small area and comprises only a small piece of a much larger battle which is hinted at, but primarily takes place off screen. It's the classic tale of the linchpin. The hero and his band of misfits are the right people at the right place at the right time, and their nearly suicidal deeds form the shot heard round the territories. Taking control of an enemy installation, and incidentally its prisoner of war camp, Valentine and his soldiers now control one of the choke points the Kurians need in order to take permanent control. His captured guns overlook the Mississippi river, the heavy industrial rail line, and a major roadway. The people of the Ozark Free Territories see it as a sign and opportunity and rise up to drive the invaders from their homes. But there are a lot of enemies and the Kurians have never been averse to sacrificing humans to get what they want. All they need to do to crush the rebellion is take back one small fortress. It's only a matter of time; but can Valentine buy enough?
The world of Vampire Earth has evolved quite a way from the first novel, Way of the Wolf. Valentine has found friends amongst his enemies and enemies amongst his friends. Truths he believed to be black and white have become multiple shades of gray. He's picked up traveling companions and lost old friends that, while managing to survive previous books, have finally run out of luck. There are many scenes in this book which seem to have little to do with the current plot but which deepen and expand the scope of the world by painting in yet another fuzzy detail hinted at before. And if the past is any indication, many of these seemingly extraneous details are sure to become more major plot points sometime in the future. Where, when, and how are the only real unknowns.