Wednesday, March 5, 2014

To Sail a Darkling Sea by John Ringo

 I don't know what anyone else's beef with John Ringo is, but my major complaint is that reading his novels always leaves me short on sleep, after I keep pushing myself past my bedtime - they're just that much fun! Listen, there's nothing earthshattering in the second book in his Black Tide Rising series, it's mostly more of the same, focusing on the next steps in rescuing survivors of the zombie plague on the high seas, and sending the zombies themselves to Davy Jones' Locker (no, not the guy from the Partridge Family, kids).

The POV in this book bounces around a little bit, as we get to know a few new characters, but mostly remains focused on the Smith family, especially Faith, then Sophia, Captain Steve, and very little about Mom Stacey. The flotilla makes its way to the Canary Islands to avoid hurricane season in the Caribbean, and proceeds to liberate a number of boats, destroy massive zombie hordes, and rescue plague survivors. Once hurricane season is over, Smith plans to take the fleet back to Guantanamo and try to clear all zombies from the area, so he can take over the old U.S. Marine base facilities to try to manufacture vaccines for the plague.

He has the full backing, for what it's worth, of the remaining U.S. command authority holed up in the Rockies somewhere, and the full attention of the submarine crews in the Atlantic, who have so far been isolated from the mutated virus which caused the plague, and dare not leave their boats until a vaccine is widely available.

One of the points that Ringo seems to be making here is that there are some people who are simply natural born killers. They are simply not affected by the same sort of weakening emotions as other people, are somewhat sociopathic in certain areas, and are simply able to turn off their fear and wade right into battle. I think he gives the subject some play in the Paladin of Shadows series, as well. Faith is seriously a warrior woman, even at age 13, and her sister Sophia is not all that far behind. Both of the girls are given (earn, really) commissions as officers for the duration of the crisis, and have to learn the skills to lead others who aren't stone cold trigger tigers.

There are some frank discussions of rank and discipline issues regarding any armed forces, post-plague economics, and strategies and tactics for saving the world. We've seen some of this in the Troy Rising series, so this particular series is very much a wedding of two of Ringo's favorite themes.

Lots of battle, some serious partying, and mostly just good clean, though bloody fun!


Bob/Sally said...

Agreed. I think this second volume resolved a lot of questions/concerns I had after the first, and I thought the exploration of rank and discipline was very well done. It did feel a bit too much like more of the same, with no real advancement of the overall plot, but I enjoyed it.

Jon said...

Well, I think he's got big plans for Faith, and he has to lay the groundwork that she's going to be a good officer and leader, and that the remaining armed forces will follow her not just from personal loyalty because she's such a kickass zombie death machine.