Today's book review is Valentine's Exile by E. E. Knight.
This is book 5 in the Vampire Earth series. It's fairly necessary to read the previous books to understand the situation. The ending isn't exactly a cliffhanger -- we wind up the current episode reasonably. But we introduce something new and tantalizing in the last couple of pages to blackmail the reader into continuing.
I pretty much feel that the series has jumped the shark. The way the plot arranges to send Valentine into exile is both hard to believe and rather frustrating, since it is such a grave injustice that it starts the reader wondering who the good guys really are. I guess that if Valentine got the credit he deserved for his achievements in the last couple of books, he wouldn't be able to be a bold adventuring hero any more. The romantic plot line is also rather frustrating. The action scenes are still exciting, and the world is somewhat interesting, but I was sure I was ready to stop reading until we got to the very end, where we introduce the hook for the next book, and it really does tempt me.
5 out of 10.
**** PLOT SUMMARY -- MASSIVE SPOILERS ****
The revolt in the last book is a sustained success, and Texas and the Arkansas Free Territory are uniting. David gets a few weeks of well-earned leave and a promotion to a Hunter Staff position. He visits Post in his hospital bed, and promises to try to track down his wife Gail, whom Post won't accept as being dead. And then he gets arrested for allowing some people he saved in one of the previous books to commit an atrocity on their erstwhile tormentors -- trumped up charges entirely at the whim of his enemy General Martinez. He's to be sacrificed in a show trial for some quislings who might be convinced to revolt. He's not allowed to put up a real defense. He's given hints that if he pleads, someone with political connections will see that he only has to spend a few years in jail and then he'll get out; Martinez expects to hang him. His friends arrange an escape. Having nowhere else to go, he tries to follow the faint lead on Gail. He goes through central Kentucky, where he wins the friendship of some legworm ranchers, and then finds the secret facility. It appears to be a hospital, but it's actually some kind of a breeding program; Gail and the other women go through a whole bunch of pregnancies and then (supposedly) retire to luxury, but they never see their children. David becomes the boytoy of the medical director of the place. Duvalier made a boyfriend as part of her espionage, and seems to actually be serious about him. They manage a daring escape, with David betraying his girlfriend of convenience but Duvalier taking her boyfriend with them. They rescue Gail and take along Booth, the vet who treated the wounded Ahn-Kha on arrival, and Booth's assistant, the mute Pepsa. Pepsa turns out to be some kind of a telepath plant who betrays them with mind control, but they manage to take her out. Ahn-Kha went off separately in a diversion and his fate is uncertain. At the end of the book, Gail gives birth and the child is, apparently, a baby Reaper. David is about to kill the baby, but then he decides that it is innocent and allows it to feed on him, as David reflects on the fact that the Kur and the Lifeweavers are the same species. This seems inconsistent with the story up to now -- the Kur and the Lifeweavers are the same thing, but the Reapers are just the tools of the Kur, not actually sapient, but David seems to be acting as though he can raise the baby Reaper to be one of the good guys.