Book: Hell’s Faire by John Ringo

Can’t really recommend it, which is a pity for the series

January 15, 2011

John Ringo

Hell’s Faire

Baen, 2003

ISBN-10: 0-7434-8842-3

ISBN-13: 978-0-7434-8842-6

378 pages


Hell’s Faire by John Ringo is the fourth book in the Mr Ringo’s “Legacy of Aldenata” or “Posleen War” series. It is the last book in the main series. Reviews of the previous books are at: 1, 2, 3. Some spoilers for the earlier books follow.

The premise of the series is that the habitable planets near Earth are inhabited by a federation of various species of peaceful aliens. They’re all peaceful because warlike species wiped themselves out before developing interstellar travel. That federation worked well for a long time. But then a distinctly unfriendly space-faring race, the Posleen, attacked the federation and there wasn’t anything to stop it. The alien federation had known about warlike humans for some time but had ignored us. Faced with a military threat, they decided to give humans some advanced technology and encourage human militaries to attack the Posleen. Humans agreed to do that because Earth would soon come under Posleen attack.

The first book of the series, A Hymn Before Battle, deals with humans’ coming to terms with the reality of impending attack by aliens and human involvement in a battle on the planet Diess. It’s thoroughly entertaining. The second book, Gust Front, deals with the initial alien landings on Earth and humans’ early, doomed, battles with them. It is also a good read. The third book, When the Devil Dances, is less fun. In my review of it, I attributed that to its place in the story’a arc: things must get darkest before the dawn. Unfortunately for this book and the series as a whole, there is relatively little payoff here in the final book. This book is almost entirely a narrative of one extended battle. And it’s not that fascinating a battle, so the book drags more than a bit. And the final victory is essentially delivered by a deus ex machina.

In an afterword, Mr Ringo explains that he had originally intended this book to be combined with the previous one in the series in a single volume. Publishing the story that way might have improved matters if the story in this book had been tightened up considerably. But, alas, that’s not what is available to the reader. As it stands, I can’t really recommend the final two books of the series. As I mentioned, I enjoyed the second book, but I doubt that the reader would enjoy it much knowing that the succeeding books would be disappointments. The first book could easily be enjoyed alone.