BOOK & BLOG
December 9, 2007
Book of the Week: Valentine's Resolve by E.E. Knight
“Valentine’s Resolve” by E.E. Knight is the latest in his Vampire Earth series. It’s book I’ve been looking forward to reading for a long time, and I’m enjoying it immensely. I’ve loved this series from the beginning, though in general I’m not a big military science fiction reader.
The basic premise of the series is that earth has been conquered by the Kurians, a vampiric race that feeds through avatars. The Kurian is safe in its tower while these avatars, called Reapers, catch unwary souls at night when they are strongest. America has fallen, but there are enclaves of freedom fighters, some of whom have amazing abilities.
There’s also another otherworldly group called the Lifeweavers, mysterious and benevolent. There are collaborators with the Kurians, who’ve traded a degree of freedom for the safety of being under Kurian protection.
Not only can Knight write like a dream, he describes the changed landscape of America with an absolute realism that rings true. His hero, David Valentine, a man of unusual abilities and great resolve, travels through a North America that is greatly changed; it’s being reclaimed by nature since cars are a thing of the past. Great cities lie in ruins, others are being revitalized on a different scale. Consumer goods are crude and difficult to obtain.
I highly recommend this series. Eric writes another one, but I haven’t had the pleasure of reading that one yet. I do have to warn the reader that I think the threads would be pretty difficult to pick up at this point, since “Valentine’s Resolve” is the sixth book. But pick up a paperback of “Way of the Wolf,” the first book, and prepare to be drawn into the very well thought out and detailed world that Knight’s created.
Making a List, Checking It Twice
When you deconstruct the word "eavesdropping," you get an interesting mental picture. I try to imagine myself hanging off a roof, trying desperately to pick up the chit-chat of the people standing on a porch below, waiting for someone to come to the door. I can't quite picture myself on a roof (Santa Claus I'm not), but the unpleasant and unattractive fact is, writers are eavesdroppers. I've followed people around in stores trying to catch the end of their conversation. I've pretended to look over lettuce and cabbage with deep fascination while the ladies behind me are exchanging gossip.
Holidays are especially fertile times for eavesdropping. People are reminiscing, and thinking about each other, and anticipating good times. This leads to some rich (and public) conversations. I hear some discussions that just beg for further explanation. I passed two women going down on an escalator, while I was going up. They were talking intently. Just as we came abreast of each other, the older woman said, "And I'll bet THAT'S why she's a lesbian!" I sure would have been interested to hear the beginning of that character analysis.
Hunting season is good, too. Men really open up during hunting season, and they open up in public places. My very favorite quote was garnered during hunting season two years ago. I happened to be in Kroger's, and I heard the butcher telling a male acquaintance about his hunt the previous day. "That buck was standing along the road, right where the ditch would've been if there'd been a ditch," he said. While biting the inside of my mouth to keep from laughing out loud, I had to admit that I knew exactly what he meant.
On the grimmer side, I once heard a couple break up in a restaurant at the adjacent table. They were very young, and very miserable, and neither of them had the determination to just get up and walk out. So on they sat, in silent gloom and tension, waiting for something to happen to end the situation.
These little slices of life, funny and tragic and intriguing, don't often show up in my books word for word. But the lessons I learn and the pieces of human behavior I'm taught by listening do stick with me, and sooner or later they'll inform my fiction.
That's something to remember when you're out and about this Christmas season. It's not only old Saint Nick who's listening to hear if you've been naughty or nice. There may be a writer listening, too.
© 2009 Charlaine Harris