41. When the Devil Dances (Legacy of the Aldenata) by John Ringo. 494 p. Published 2002.
This third installment in the Legacy of Aldenata series begins 5 years after the events in Gust Front, and the invasion of Earth is in full swing. Australia, China, Russia, Japan, and the Middle East – all have fallen to the Posleen hordes. Humanity has retreated back to the colder area, leaving only token resistance in the mountain ranges of Europe and Asia. Only North America – or what remains of it -stands uniformly against the alien menace. With defensive lines in the Rockies and the Apalachian Mountains, what remains of the American and Fleet forces is stretched thin while the rest of the population seeks shelter in large underground cities.
When the Devil Dances follows many of the same heroes as Gust Front. O’Neal now commands what is left of Fleet Strike, and the stresses of a command he was never trained to occupy are begining to take their toll. When word comes in of Posleen forces making a push in Virginia, O’Neal and his troops are called off a well-deserved leave to seal the inevitable hole in the defense line.
While O’Neal and the cavalry gear up to ship out, our focus shifts to areas on the front line. We follow Elgars, our previously comatose sniper, Wendy, and Shari -survivors from Fredericksburg – as they meet our other protagonists – Mosovich, Cally, and Papa O’Niel. Each of these heroes brings their own story – Elgars, Wendy, and Shari live in the Franklin Sub-Urb, one of the oldest underground cities, and the one closest to the fighting. Mosovich is running recon all over the Apalachians, but his recent venture has brought worrying news of a change in Posleen tactics. And Cally and Papa O’Niel remain on the family farm, waiting for the world to end. The mix of these characters as they meet and seperate provides a truly encompassing view of the war against the Posleen, covering every angle.
But When the Devil Dances also introduces Commanders Chan and Mitchell. Chan leads a group of “Screeming Meemies,” tanks equiped with Metalstorm technology in an attempt to threaten Posleen ships. Mitchell commands SheVa Nine – aka “BunBun” – the final version of anti-lander combat. SheVas are large – 7 stories tall is-that-mountain-moving large – tracked vehicles which bear a very big cannon. SheVa Nine also happens to have a very deadly webcomic bunny painted on the side. Through these two and a few other characters we get a detailed and exhilirating depiction of frontline combat in the Apalachians.
Of course, we also have a few Posleen viewpoints in When the Devil Dances, but these serve mainly to hint at the changes in how the Posleen are combating the humans.
When the Devil Dances is a decent action-packed sci-fi thriller on it’s own. With wit and wonder a-plenty, each page is a joy to flip. But the true essence of this book seems to lean towards something else – paving the way for the next book, when O’Niel and the rest of the Armored Triple Nickles enter the arena. With an interweaving plot, enjoyable characters, and mezmirizing sci-fi combat, Ringo keeps the reader hungry for more.
A free online version of this book is available by the publisher.
Rating: 4 out of 5