Last night, I almost finished reading The Dark Ones and was very tempted to just skip sleeping in order to finish it in one sitting. This afternoon/evening, I managed to finish it.
The conclusion to The Vixen War Bride series is a very satisfying one, and I almost busted a gut laughing my ass off in the middle of the finale’s finale. Coincidentally, book two in the series is one of the best books I’ve read all year, but that’s the subject of a later journal entry.
During the series, it’s suggestively hinted more and more that the humans are not the “Dark Ones” that the Va’Shen believed them to be, and in the final entry, of course the dark ones actually show up! The prologue with the Neil Armstrong was superb, but much of novel deals with the resulting fall out as the Dark Ones make landfall. As human forces gather to counter an unknown enemy that’s been making like a hot knife through butter, our hero Ben is effectively left with his finger in the dam when his Rangers are tasked with channeling the ancient Spartans at Thermopylae to buy the combined joint task force the hours needed to gather their forces.
But far, far better than this is the aftermath of it all. See, our poor hero, Ben was supposed to be separating from the army as part of Reduction In Force, i.e., too many bodies, war is over, you’re done pal. When the Dark Ones show up and refugees start streaming into the village, that goes out the window, since no one is going anywhere until the Over the Rainbow arrives. After waking up in the hospital, Ben finds himself in the unique position of having somehow survived but still getting crapped on by red tape. The situation was so dire that Rangers and Va’Shen commando ended up fighting side by side, and our hero may have managed to experience what it’s like to be fed through an alien nutcracker and bombed off the map but there is always red tape.
Fortuitously, Alacea his native wife and our heroine, has her own role in the finale. Seriously, part of the woman’s job is to argue her community’s case before the Va’shen’s gods — the Va’Sh imperial court and the CJTF’s general ain’t gonna win that argument (^_^).
The imperial official’s internal thoughts, are especially hilarious during the meeting between the emperor’s representative and the human general, and it is a beautiful twisting of Va’Shen honor and their saving face that has caused the emperor to declare Ben a Va’Sh citizen and other virtues for having Just Saved All Their Asses. Which leads to Ben also having to export a certain general officer who May Have Fucked Up Big Time ™ into letting him be out processed there on Va’Sh, saving the U.S. government the few billion dollars it would take too ship him home for the rubber stamping only for Ben to have to fight his way back to Va’Sh and Alacea.
Sho’Nan, the sassy chef, “The one who feeds,” continues to be her awesome self when Ben Gibson returns the village and needs to speak to the chieftain Kasshas and the Na’Sha Alacea about joining the community, and Sho’Nan introduces him to the whole council as some vagrant who can’t even speak properly 🤣. Without a doubt, Sho’Nan is my favorite character throughout the series along with John Ramirez, perhaps the two single most entertaining goons, I mean, supporting characters, in the entire series!
Needless to say, things get crazy when Ben comes before the council and Alacea looses her shit in excitement at her husband’s return, but we are treated to a superb finish as the two are finally reunited. It’s one of the more satisfying endings I’ve read to a sci-fi series.