Book: When the Devil Dances by John Ringo

"Middle" book in a military science-fiction series

John Ringo
When the Devil Dances
Baen, 2003
ISBN: 0-7434=3602-4
ISBN-13: 978-0-7434-3602-1
678 pages

When the Devil Dances is the third book in John Ringo's four-book "Posleen War" series of military science-fiction novels. (My reviews of the first two are at: 1, 2.) Considerable spoilers for the first two novels follow.

When the Devil Dances has the burden of being the "middle" book of the series. In the first book we met the alien adversary, the Posleen, and in the second one they began to invade earth but were sometimes brought to a halt. Notably at the Potomac river by Michael O'Neal's few troops using armored combat suits supplied by friendly aliens. As this book begins, it's five years later and the only organized resistance to the Posleen is in central North America. The Posleen can't cross mountains well and human defenses have held them west of the Rockies and east of the Allegheny/Appalachian mountains. Michael O'Neal is now a major and he and his ACS troops are pretty mentally worn out and badly diminished in numbers from having to turn back incursions that the Posleen occasionally make up even well-defended valleys. (High-tech resupply from offworld is almost non-existent.)

Worse, some among the Posleen have been learning from human strategy and tactics. They're no longer relying solely on superior numbers. And, of course, eventually one of those clever groups starts a very big incursion. And the book ends before the battle is over. As I said, it's the "middle" book and so things get as bad as possible consistent with there still being a ray of hope.

Still, there are some compensations. Such as an absurdly huge tank that's called Bun-Bun and a soldier who was nearly miraculously healed by aliens and is now something of a composite. Both of which come in handy. We also get to see some things from the point of view of the adversary and that always makes a book a bit more interesting.

There are certain things about the book that don't quite exactly make sense. Such as why the Posleen don't attack from the south. But I have said before that Mr Ringo's military thrillers are generally somewhat improbable even by the rather relaxed standards of the genre. And nevertheless I keep reading them. In this case, there's less payoff in terms of thrilling battles, but I imagine that that's being saved up for the last book.

Posted: Fri - August 20, 2010 at 08:49   Main   Category: