E.E. Knight's ninth entry in the Vampire Earth series, March In Country, is a pleasant surprise after the last few clunkers but still fails to advance the story in any real fashion. While a major Kurian in Atlanta has designs on taking over wartorn Kentucky, Major Valentine has his own plans to repopulate the area with Golden Ones. Will Valentine be able to locate and move grogs from a faraway enclave while just about every faction is allied against him?
While the story and prose kept my interest, the plot for these books just barely continues to plod along. The usual cast of secondary characters are involved (Duvalier, Ahn-Kha, Lambert) but none of them are fleshed out. Blake is seen briefly. A 4th type of hunter is mentioned and is almost immediately discarded. Ahn-Kha and Valentine swear vengeance against General Martinez but this will probably not happen until somewhere around book no. 22.
I admit that I love end of the world tales and Vampire Earth is a doozy. Aliens and their giant nigh-unstoppable soldiers who literally suck the life out of you? Heck yeah? The earth is destroyed through natural disasters, disease and famine and the human population has been reduced to virtual slavery? Tell me more! From the high of the first few books, this series has been something of a letdown. By the ninth book, our hero, Valentine, is already an old man at 30, who loves killing, is an absentee father to his half-alien "son", Blake, but is someone who will risk everything for the sake of his companions and of the innocent.
Is this it for humanity? Besides a relatively small area of the central southern U.S. most of humanity is allied with their alien overlords. And even Southern Command is in a defensive posture. Valentine and his crew are virtually cutoff from any meaningful support. And while virtually every book features the death of a Kurian or two, there doesn't seem to be a shortage of more aliens to fill in the gap. At this rate, E.E. Knight could write fifty books and still not a lot would happen.
I like this series; I always have. But I definitely am not looking forward to reading the next edition anywhere near as much as I used to.