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When the Devil Dances by John Ringo

Published by Baen Books

Reviewed by Leigh Kimmel

Four years have passed since the first Posleen battle globes descended upon Earth. In that time, humanity has been reduced to desperate straits. The only organized human resistance lies in the American heartland, buttressed by the Appalachian and Rocky mountains. Everywhere else, the Posleen have triumphed and humans survive only as scattered barbarians hiding in the mountains.

But even that last redoubt is under threat, as a particularly talented Posleen commander takes charge of the drive toward Rabun Gap in the US state of Georgia. A territory very close to the heart and soul of Mike O'Neal, since it is his family home, where generation after generation of O'Neals have lived and farmed. Its current tenant is Mike's father, Mike Sr., a disgraced military man who put his principles before political expedience and killed some real thugs who were being kissed up to by the US Government during the Cold War. Mike Sr. is an experienced warrior who knows every imaginable way of killing an enemy, and was thus the perfect candidate for guardian of Mike's daughter Cally.

Meanwhile, it is becoming abundantly clear that someone at our backs doesn't want humanity to win. Sometimes you can trust your enemies more than your allies.

The writing of this installment of the Posleen series was heavily affected by the 9/11 attack on America, as Ringo explicates in his afterward. The most obvious sign of this is his choice to have the action of the novel begin on 9/11/09, but it rings through the tone of the entire novel, in every scene of violence, in Mike O'Neal's ever-present dread that humanity may yet lose the values that make us human and become nothing more than warrior ants for the Darhel.

Unfortunately, unlike the first two novels which were complete in themselves, this volume is the first half of a novel that had to be completed in Hell's Faire because Ringo simply could not write fiction for several months after 9/11, and instead concentrated his literary efforts on essays and editorial pieces..

Review posted April 8, 2003

Buy When the Devil Dances (Posleen War Series #3) from Amazon.com