. . . But it is one, which is great news for readers.
This is the fourth novel in the VampireEarth series, and the consistently high quality continues. Earch is occupied by seemingly invincible invaders, and protagonist David Valentine, an officer in the resistance movement, is caught behind enemy lines with a few hopelessly outnumbered troops and civilians, with orders to "raise a ruckus." This he does, with the help of some great supporting characters, and plenty of surprises for the readers of previous books in this suspenseful series.
Knight's series isn't just non-stop military battles and nothing else, which mars a lot of this type of post-holocaust fiction. There is indeed action, well described and often riveting, but Valentine is a hero with a conscience, and the difficult decisions he makes in pursuit of a higher goal, Mankind's liberation, are outlined very clearly. He makes some very hard choices in this novel, and the reader feels his pain and moral dilemmas.
Once again, Knight's attention to military organizational detail is superb, and his evocation of the setting, in particular the Ozarks area of southern Missouri and northern Arkansas, puts the reader right there with Valentine's band of beleaguered but undaunted men and women.
I can think of no higher praise for a speculative story, than for it to feel so real that it can capture a reader's emotions. Several times in this story I was moved to either cheers or tears, most notably with scenes involving new characters General XRay Tango and Hank Smalls. Tango is a man forced to help the alien Kurians, with torn allegiances and no easy answers. Smalls is a young boy forced to grow up too fast in an alien controlled future America, where no human and no ideal is safe.
If you're already a fan of VampireEarth, what are you waiting for? These excellent books don't come out often enough. If you're a newbie to this series, what are you waiting for? To echo author Fred Saberhagen, if you only plan to read one more apocalyptic novel, make it this one.