Way of the Wolf was a bold, exciting beginning to what is definitely shaping up to be an innovative, compelling dark fantasy series from the pen of E.E. Knight. Choice of the Cat takes the heroic journey of protagonist David Valentine in an entirely new direction, one conducive to even more suspenseful action than before. Many a young writer finds it difficult to recreate the magic of a successful first novel, but E.E. Knight has come through with an impressive follow-up sure to delight all fans of dark fantasy and hair-raising heroic adventure.
The setting for The Vampire Earth series is a post-apocalyptic earth of the mid- to late-twenty-first century. Back in 2022, up to 90% of the human population perished as a result of the terrible Ravies plague, but this was just the beginning of Earth's struggle. The Kur, an alien civilization made up of vampiric creatures who feed on the life aura of others, quickly subjugated large portions of the earth. The Kur's most deadly weapons are the Reapers, terrifying, alien beasts through whom the Kur absorb the auras of their victims. Three types of human beings emerged from the apocalypse: those who betray their species and assist the Kur, those who are outwardly ambivalent to the Kur and just try to stay out of trouble, and those willing to fight and die for humanity. David Valentine is one of the latter. After the massacre of his family, the young boy went on to follow in his father's footsteps by becoming a Wolf, a member of the military first line of defense of the Ozark Free Zone. As this novel opens, Valentine is assigned to a new unit of soldiers and forced to hold off an enemy attack on orders of his superior officer; when that officer is injured, command falls to Valentine, who oversees a retreat by his outnumbered men based on his own informed decision and the intelligence he receives from a Cat (a warrior spy). Much to Valentine's (and my own) surprise, he soon finds himself facing a court-martial for disobeying orders. A tough choice between leaving the Wolves and staying to fight the military justice system is made a good bit easier when the Cat he met in battle offers him a chance to become a Cat himself.
Soon, Valentine is off to partake of some incredibly demanding training with his mentor Alessa Duvalier (code name: Smoke) as well as an intense initiation into the order; this induction into the Cats increases his senses and abilities many times over. For some time, Valentine has been deeply interested in a mysterious group of enemies identified by a Twisted Cross, but his reports and inquiries have not seemed to generate much attention in Southern Command. His first mission as a Cat, working alongside his new mentor and friend, involves going into the Kurian zone and gathering intelligence on this seemingly specialized group of enemies. Before he's done, he gets an up-close and personal look at the whole nefarious organization.
There is a great deal of action in this novel. Whereas Wolves act in concert with one another, Cats basically work alone (unless they are training a new recruit such as Valentine). Valentine has always been a fighter, and there is still a good bit of Wolf left in this young Cat; even though his mission is to listen and learn, he cannot abandon innocents when he thinks he can save them. There are lots of skirmishes and one humdinger of a fight before the novel draws to a close, and the addition of the most unlikely of allies further energizes this gripping story about two-thirds of the way through. This novel does end, but I feel as if the writer has just taken a moment to catch his breath, and I eagerly await the chance to sink my teeth into Book 3 of The Vampire Earth series when it is published.
Don't let the word Vampire in the book series name throw you; this is in no way a "vampire novel," for the Kur are unlike any vampires you have ever encountered. Knight is adept at creating living, breathing characters that will captivate your spirit and engulf you in their dangerous and heroic feats. This is a unique and wonderfully entertaining novel that truly delivers while promising even greater things to come.
An excellent sequel. The story continues following a few months covered in the first few pages. As you would imagine we see a change of role for Valentine that allows the author to look at aspects of the world that were not covered in the first novel. We are introduced to new characters, new races, etc. as well as having the joy of watching the development of the books main character.
A well written book as always, the storyline is better than the first book in that less description is needed and more work has been done on discovery and furthering the plotline rather than backfilling 'what has gone before'... the new developments leave plenty of scope for the continuing development of the storyline and leaves you looking forward to the next book!