Valentine’s Rising by E.E. Knight

Published by Roc
December 2005
Mass Market Paperback 350 Pages
ISBN: 0-451-46059-6

David Valentine’s struggle against the vampiric overlords continues in Valentine’s Rising, the fourth installment in E.E. Knight’s Vampire Earth saga. Knight left readers hanging with the last volume, things didn’t look very optimistic for David and his company. This installment starts in the middle of the action, as David, and his grog companion Ahn-Kha and their surviving regiment struggle against the ambush they met at the end of Tale of the Thuderbolt. One of Knight’s strengths is drawing readers in through his action scenes, and the beginning here is no different.

For readers who are still unsure about starting the series, rest assured, Knight hasn’t lost any steam from one installment to the next. In Valentine’s Rising, David continues the undercover, covert work behind enemy lines he started in Tale of the Thunderbolt. While Thunderbolt showed the world outside the continental US, Rising firmly returns David to the North American territories. Specifically, he returns to the Ozarks, where his journeys began back in Way of the Wolf. Rising also feels more like the first two books in the series, while still focusing up on the covert mission aspect Knight used in Thunderbolt. All that said, even though Rising builds on the mounting storylines of the previous volumes, Knight does a nice job of integrating background throughout the story, making this book, and the series, relatively easy to jump in at any point.

With a firmly established world, Knight focuses more on the action and the growing character of David Valentine, presenting him as a character balancing life on the thin edge of sanity. His internal struggles in acting as a Quisling, contrasted with his hatred for them and their overlords is evident throughout. You get a sense that in his head he knows what he does serves the larger goal of bringing down this enemy, but the actions he must take to appear as the enemy are slowly pushing him over the edge.

The human’s struggle gains momentum, and through each volume, Knight balances the wins and losses between the humans and their vampire overlords. Even with the victories David manages, the odds still seem rather insurmountable. At this point, with the fourth book in the series, people who have enjoyed the storyline and series thus far aren’t going to want to stop reading. Knight’s storytelling skills continue to improve with each book, and with each book, David Valentine becomes more of an iconic hero. All told, The Vampire Earth continues to entertain, as Knight is becoming one of the more assured and dependable pulp/adventure/SF writers in the market. I am not surprised, and in fact pleased, that Mr. Knight’s next Vampire Earth tale will make the jump to hardcover.

© 2006 Rob H. Bedford

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