March in Country by E.E. Knight
March in Country had a lot to live up to after Winter Duty, the previous book in the prolific Vampire Earth series by E.E. Knight. Winter Duty was a tour de force example of grit, determination, pain and combat that really re-energized the series.
David Valentine has always been an amazing contradiction of hardened killer in combat and soft-hearted do-gooder after. Some of the lengths he has gone to in order to save friends, free prisoners and give people a second chance have gone beyond compassion and into the realms of lunacy. For a professional soldier, it’s been career suicide and led to a life full of pain. That continues to be a central theme of this series as David continues to place the needs of “victims” and the desire to reform traitors before his own mission.
March in Country covers a lot of ground both in terms of physical travel and in terms of character development. From the rough conditions of their forward operating base in Kentucky, David and his fellow soldiers are put through their paces fighting off the incursions of a Kurian contingent out of the Georgia/Carolinas area. It is interesting to read from the perspective of a guerilla force that is fighting against superior technology and numbers. The Kurian troops from Georgia have much better vehicles, weapons and other equipment compared to Valentine’s troops and their allies in Kentucky.
Valentine’s longtime friend and co-conspirator, Ali Duvalier, has played many different roles and is the poster child for messed-up female heroes. I hate some aspects of what she does to get the mission done. Call it what you will, I just hate the thought of a woman whom I respect like Smoke having to use sex as a tool to get the job done. March in Country has a little more sex than some of the previous books and it felt out of place at times.
The major event of March in Country involves Valentine and a chosen team trying to recruit a large body of Golden One Grogs to support them in Kentucky. I don’t want to spoil the story, but a lot of interesting things happen during this mission. One of them is Valentine coming to grips with some of the gifts that he has inherited from his father.
The other major theme of this installment is the ongoing feud between Valentine and the leadership of Southern Command. It’s painful and disgusting how Valentine and his fellow soldiers are being treated, and I actually found myself angry. When a book elicits such a strong emotional reaction, it’s a sign of good writing.
March in Country sustains the pace of the Vampire Earth series, and Knight continues to give us reasons to care, reasons to rejoice and even reasons to be angry as the story unfolds. The characters we have grown to know so well continue to evolve and become different permutations of themselves. It makes for a great book in a series that just keeps marching on.
Vampire Earth — (2001-2014) Publisher: Welcome to David Valentine’s world. It is a world where conquered humans occupy a role somewhere between livestock and slaves. A world ruled by unearthly monsters of such dark intent and limitless hunger that they can only be called Vampires. Violently orphaned at the age of eleven, Valentine’s aimless life changes when he meets a group of men bearing arms against the vampiric invaders and their human allies. These men are Wolves: elite guerilla fighters engaged in an ongoing battle to win back the Earth. The Way of the Wolf is not an easy road to travel. Few men or women can master the disciplines involved, and those who do rarely survive for long. But for young David Valentine, compelled by the losses of his past and the dreams of his future, there can be no other choice. It is a choice that will lead him to adventures beyond his wildest imaginings… and to horrors worse than any he has ever faced.
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