Valentine’s Rising takes place immediately following the disastrous end of the previous novel, Tale of the Thunderbolt. The disaster was widespread and has changed Southern Command forever, and David Valentine and his remaining men must find ways to survive the situation. Valentine’s Rising is a tale of espionage, sacrifices, and all-out war.
E.E. Knight sticks with the same format he’s always used in the Vampire Earth novels: plenty of action, hard choices, and cool characters. Over the course of the series I’ve gotten to know the cast of characters quite well. I often know what each of them would do in a given situation. Valentine, for instance, always has to make the tough choices for the greater good. He’s not afraid to get his hands dirty when it comes to neutralizing the enemy or asking his men to die for him. He will almost always find the optimum solution, usually at some great expense to himself. He carries the burdens of those decisions so others don’t have to.
There are several instances in Valentine’s Rising, though, that made me reconsider my understanding of David Valentine. Some of the decisions he makes feel out of character. I almost stopped reading at one point, thinking Knight had suffered a stroke while writing this novel. I stuck with the story and by the end I was feeling better, but I can’t help but feel a little disappointed in the way some things turned out. This is merely the nitpicking of a fan, rather than an actual literary criticism, though.
E.E. Knight’s no-nonsense writing style is solid and makes for a fun and quick read. Page-long descriptions of the color of the grass are not to be found in the Vampire Earth series. The clipped tone and fast pace fit the world very well, and are major reasons why I enjoy this series so much.
Valentine’s Rising is available in audiobook form from Brilliance Audio. Christian Rummel puts on a stellar performance. Like so many of the narrators in the Audible/Brilliance coffers, Rummel is the permanent voice of the Vampire Earth characters in my head. I would love to someday visit the studio where these books are recorded. These are not just books being read to you; they are performances, and I bet they would be fun to watch.