Audiobook Review: Appalachian Overthrow by E. E. Knight

11 04 2013

Appalachian Overthrow by E. E. Knight (The Vampire Earth, Bk. 10)

Read by Christian Rummel

Audible Frontiers

Length: 9 Hrs 33 Min

Genre: Post Apocalyptic Science Fiction

Quick Thoughts: Appalachian Overthrow is a deliberately paced look at Kurian Occupied Earth through the outsider eyes of the Golden One Ahn-Kha.   I think some fans of the series will be frustrated with the slower paced style, but I wasn’t one. I enjoyed this opportunity to get to know one of my favorite character a bit better, while also getting to see a different side to the world Knight has created.

Grade: B+

David Valentine is one heck of a compelling character. I first encountered David Valentine over 10 years ago when I discovered a series called The Vampire Earth while browsing my local Borders Book and Music. This was back when I was very skeptical of Vampires and having the word Vampire on your book did more harm than good, in my eyes. Through 9 books I have followed the adventures of this character, as he battles the Kurian Overlords, kills reapers, deals with the often tricky politics of the Free Zones and often seems to single-handedly save the day. Yet, this isn’t wholly true. While Valentine has had to deal with a lot of tough situations and often take on dangerous, almost suicidal missions, he is not always alone. Along the way, he has picked up plenty of friends. These peripheral characters have added a lot of color to Valentine’s world. It’s a motley crew he has put together, including a devious and beautiful provocateur, an older Haitian Cook, a Reaper raised outside of the Kurian influence, a former Quisling, and most notably a Golden Haired alien brought to this planet as a work force for the new overloads. So, for nine volumes, Valentine has done most of the heavy lifting, but now it was time for someone else to pick up the load. Not that the series has become totally stagnant. I enjoyed the last entry of this series, and was interested in seeing what would happen next. Yet, sometimes a bit of change is good. Sometimes, the world you have grown to love could use another perspective. When I discovered that the newest edition of this story would be told from the perspective of Valentine’s closest friend, the Golden One Ahn-Kha himself, I was excited. Here was an opportunity to get a fresh perspective on this compelling world from one of my favorite peripheral characters.

Appalachian Overthrow tells the story of Ahn-Kha, an alien transported to Earth by the brutal Kurian, stripped of everything he loved, and looked at by most humans as barely more than a beast. Yet, thanks to David Valentine, he had found a place in the resistance, fighting against the Alien Oppressors who use Vampire like Avatars to suck the life force from their human cattle. When a dangerous mission leaves him captured behind enemy lines, he must attempt to survive, hide his true nature until he can find a way to escape. Sent to work in the mines of coal country, Ahn-Kha finds himself a key figure in an uprising that could forever alter the balance of power in the region. EE Knight has taken a big risk with Appalachian Overthrow. This novel isn’t just a change in perspective, but a whole different style of story with an entirely new voice. Appalachian Overthrow is a less focused novel, with less of an emphasis of key battles or single missions. Instead, it tells the story of a slow boiling disquiet among the people and Quislings of the Coal Country through the non-human eyes of Ahn-Kha. The first person perspective is much more idiosyncratic than the earlier novels. This isn’t truly the Ahn-Kha we have grown to love, seen through the eyes of Valentine, but a more rich, yet intimate version where we get a peek into his mind. The novel has a lot more exposition than the previous novels, giving us a much more detailed look at the inner workings of a Kurian controlled zone than we had seen previously. In many ways, it feels more like a future history/memoir than the typical post apocalyptic adventure style that the previous novels have utilized. Yet, did it work? For me, it totally did. I loved the change in voice, the slower pace and more intimate style. It felt like Knight really gave us a chance to see his world before he started to let his characters start blowing it up. There were moments where the story began to drag a bit, and the details became a bit overwhelming, but usually these were quickly followed by some quick burst of action. One of the most noticeable differences of this novel was that the action came in quick bursts, rather than long detailed battles. Knight still managed to get in a lot of his staples, with some great Reaper fights, some smart guerilla style battles and some skirmishes with the zombie like Ravies, yet there was a much more unfocused, oral tradition style storytelling involved. While I typically preach the idea that series should always be read in order, despite what the author or other fans may say, Appalachian Overthrow serves well as a standalone, not dependent on the past events of the previous nine novels. Appalachian Overthrow is a deliberately paced look at Kurian Occupied Earth through the outsider eyes of the Golden One Ahn-Kha.   I think some fans of the series will be frustrated with the slower paced style, but I wasn’t one. I enjoyed this opportunity to get to know one of my favorite character a bit better, while also getting to see a different side to the world Knight has created.

Christian Rummel returns as narrator for this latest edition of The Vampire Earth series. I think a lot of the idiosyncratic feel of the narrative voice of this novel came from the delivery of Christian Rummel. He read Ahn-Kha as someone comfortable with the language, but not native born to it. There was definitely an alien feel to the reading that gave this novel just the right touch. Rummel uses a rich deep tone, yet doesn’t hesitate to pull out all the stops for his character. Appalachian Overthrow is full of a nice mix of characters, allowing Rummel to use a full range of accents, as well as giving voice to some non-human characters. It would have been easy for Rummel to fall into the rapid fire pacing of the previous novels, but instead, there is an almost languishing reflective rhythm to his reading, as if he’s a tour guide, carefully showing you all the key areas of the tale. While Appalachian Overthrow may not be the best entry of the series, it offers a chance to see The Vampire Earth from a whole new perspective.

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One response

11 04 2013
Rob H. Bedford

Nice review Bob, I’m one book behind on .this series. From my perspective, this series is a lot of fun is a bit overlooked.

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