by E. E. Knight
Series: The Vampire Earth, Book 2
Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, Speculative, Dystopian
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
The alien Reapers have ruled Earth for forty-five years. David Valentine is a member of the human resistance, who is now being trained as a Cat-an elite stealth warrior. His first mission is to investigate the threat of the Twisted Cross, a mysterious new force under Reaper control.
The Great Plains Gulag, March of the forty-fifth year of the Kurian Order: Only the bones of a civilization remain, monuments to mankind’s apogee.
This is the second installment of the Vampire Earth series, which follows the adventures of David Valentine. It picks up where Way of the Wolf left off. David is still in the Wolves but in a less experienced group. He has reported his findings of a mysterious group– who call themselves “The Twisted Cross”– to his command, but he can’t seem to get any of his higher ups to take it seriously.
Choice of the Cat starts off almost immediately with action, with Valentine and his Wolves infiltrating a small Kurian controlled village and kicking some serious Reaper ass. It was a fun and entertaining start to bring me back into the series, as it was much earlier in the year that I read the first book.
After a brutal battle that leaves most of Valentine’s Company either dead or wounded, he faces a court martial and voluntarily resigns as a Wolf to avoid further action. He is then recruited into Cat training (the rogues of the human resistance) by another Cat investigating the Twisted Cross, Alessa “Smoke” Duvalier.
Considering that Valentine’s love interest from Book 1 was conveniently written off in Chapter 2 (which was nicely done, FYI), I figured that Duvalier would be the new love interest. This book proved to not be so predictable. She instead plays the role of teacher and comrade, with any hint of sexual tension being used as more than playful bantar. Duvalier is a great character– cool, cunning, and perhaps a little crazy.
Ahn-Kha is another great character who is introduced in this novel. Though he doesn’t step into the picture until Chapter 9 (there are only 10 chapters in this book), I quickly fell in love with his character and rooted for him throughout the rest of the story. I’ve seen other reviews relate him to another version of Chewbacca, but I didn’t see him like that (though I can understand why other readers do). He is a grog that can speak English and hails from a tribe known as “The Golden Ones.” His people have been enslaved by the Kurians, and it’s his mission to free them.
There are 3 major battles to read through, and not one of them disappoint. E.E. Knight manages to provide wonderful visuals without exhausting them to the tiniest detail, which is great for a reader such as myself, who doesn’t have the patience to read books like the Grapes of Wrath.
The ending had plenty of surprises and I found myself satisfied with the conclusion. I liked the fact that this is the book where we see Valentine begin to break down and question himself internally. The hints of this are subtle throughout the book and more obvious in the final climax, and I have a feeling that in the next novel, he might be a little more detached and hardened. I’m eager to see if I’m right in Book 3, Tale of the Thunderbolt, but I also hope that he doesn’t lose that charming integrity that makes him such a likable bad-ass!
For more on the characters and settings of the Vampire Earth series, make sure and check out my review for Book One, Way of the Wolf.
“I’m the King Midas and the Angel of Death all rolled into one. Whatever I touch… dies.”
“He used to say evil was like a rabid animal: it was very dangerous and should be destroyed as soon as possible, but even if it couldn’t be attacked from the outside, the sickness within would put an end to it.”