E.E. Knight’s Vampire Earth is one of the most interesting military fantasy series around. Watching the maturation and evolution of the main character David Valentine has been very intriguing because Knight has done the right things. Val has been through the proverbial wringer in terms of losing friends, getting hurt, and dealing with leaders who are more concerned with their own career than doing the right things for the Soldiers they lead. In many ways, Knight’s tongue-in-cheek commentary on bureaucrats and indictment of self-serving Officers has been his most powerful theme.
Winter Duty does even more. Once again Val is taking great personal risk on a mission which he feels is important, but which is not being supported by Southern Command. He lacks resources, qualified Soldiers and still he’s willing to roll the dice to try to save an area that was devastated by a previous offensive. As a soldier, I find it to be exciting, compelling stuff.
E.E. Knight continues to develop the post-apocalyptic conditions of Earth and doesn’t stint on giving us solid examples of how society could have evolved. He really takes the reader into the world and gives you a chance to see how rough things could be. Training Soldiers while trying to fight an uphill battle with limited resources is very difficult and Knight doesn’t try to sweep that under the carpet.
Winter Duty brings back several supporting characters who have been under-used in recent books. This is just a treat. Knight’s characterization of the relationship between Val and Ali, his long-time covert operations partner, remains one of the most tender yet brittle depictions of broken people finding trust in each other. Knight’s palette of emotional connections between characters is as well-developed as you could hope for, and that makes Vampire Earth worth coming back to again and again.
Winter Duty is a violent emotional roller-coaster that resets the standard of this series back to a high level. Knight’s latest effort really gives you something to savor while taking you for a ride through the harsh landscape of a war-torn world and man’s fight for survival.