David Valentine returns in the latest instalment of the Vampire Earth series by the prolific writer E. E. Knight. Set in the late 21st century the planet has been taken over by the aura devouring Kurian’s who use reapers to suck the life from the human cattle. Geographically the story is set in mid-America, in the the case of Winter Duty primarily in Kentucky.
Having read all previous releases (there are about 6 or 7 prior to this) I was compelled to pick up Winter Duty to find out how the maverick Wolf was getting on since the crippling battle in the previous book.
To give some background: Valentine is an army captain who has been bestowed with additional strength and senses by Lifeweavers, the Kurian’s enemy. Not superhuman powers, just a wee bit more. He has become somewhat of a maverick over the previous battles and adventures and finds himself on the periphery of Southern Command’s good books and so decides to take up a remote assignment with his loyal followers, manning a newly established fort.
The books centre around Valentine’s command and his desire to restore humanity to something above cattle for the Kurians. They are effectively army-based science fiction. Like it’s forefunners, Winter Duty reads at a quick pace, full of action and fantastically real given the awkward setting. The Earth has been scorched and mankind has fallen in behind the Kurians. It is believable yet a world away.
However, whilst Winter Duty read well it felt stale. There was little new in it to excite and toward the end I was looking forward to finishing the book as opposed to finding out what would happen. There were no quickwood moments, no legworm revelations and in all honesty, I hope in the next release we see the return of Ahn-ka as the erstwhile friend of Valentine adds an extra dimension to the narrative and brings to life the changing Earth wonderfully well.
I enjoyed Winter Duty but didn’t love it. The whole experience was as if Knight was happy to get another release out as opposed to really moving the Vampire Earth series on. Like a semi-interesting journal rather than explosive memoirs. I will read the next book, because I am committed having read seven so far, but it will need to step up from Winter Duty in respect to gripping my attention otherwise it will probably be my final Vampire Earth purchase. 5.5/10