When the Devil Dances (Human-Posleen War Series #3)

When the Devil Dances (Human-Posleen War Series #3)

4.1 10
by John Ringo

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After five years of battling the Posleen invaders, human civilization is down to this: A handful of valleys in the Rocky Mountains, the Appalachians, Fargo, North Dakota and the Cumberland Basin.

Only in the Cumberland Basin and the Ohio Valley do humans retain culture, philosophy, and learning. Only in the Appalachians and the Rockies do the humans hold onto


After five years of battling the Posleen invaders, human civilization is down to this: A handful of valleys in the Rocky Mountains, the Appalachians, Fargo, North Dakota and the Cumberland Basin.

Only in the Cumberland Basin and the Ohio Valley do humans retain culture, philosophy, and learning. Only in the Appalachians and the Rockies do the humans hold onto their shattered defenses. Only there do they create larger and larger engines of war to oppose the hated Posleen. Only there do they have hope. As they wait for the return of their forces. As they pray for survival.

After five years of battling the Humans, the Posleen are tired and angry. Humans don’t fight fair. They hide and burrow like the pestiferous abat. They strike from above with their hated artillery and from behind with their long range reconnaissance. After five years of hammering their crocodilian heads, even the Posleen are ready for a change. And the name for that change is Tulostenaloor. He was beaten in Aradan V. But he has learned. And this is his day.

Now is the time: Two opponents of old squaring off in the battle that will define the course of the galaxy for the next millennia.

Two commanders, one mission: Take and hold Rabun Gap at all costs.

And when Major Michael O'Neal, commander of the 1st Battalion 555th Mobile Infantry, squares off against Tulostenaloor, Clan-Lord of the Sten, the only winner is Satan himself.

Two commanders, one dance. It is time to dance with the devil.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This latest in a series depicting the invasion of our galaxy by a rapacious alien species isn't as much fun as its predecessors, A Hymn Before Battle and Gust Front. Unfortunately, as Ringo, a military affairs adviser to Fox News, indicates in his afterword, what was escapist entertainment before 9/11 no longer provides the same escape. Five years after the Posleen made their first landings, most of the world lies under their control. By squandering precious resources, the leaders of North America have contained the enemy to several bridgeheads. Major Mike O'Neal commands the only force capable of engaging the Posleen in a war of maneuver. Even "Mighty Mite" O'Neal despairs of victory, as clueless politicians and self-serving "allies" cause his soldiers to die in battle against hopeless odds. We were living in a Golden Age, muses O'Neal, before the Posleen came, and he struggles to prevent his troops from becoming mere killing machines by keeping alive the memory of what was once and might be again. Despite the novel's somber tone, there's hope that the schemes of our supposed allies to see the Posleen and us destroy one another may fail. For thoughtful readers, Ringo raises some tough and highly relevant questions about the conflicts of interest between Americans and allies who don't share our ideas of individual dignity and freedom and about our leaders' inability to advance beyond narrow parochial interests toward the common good. Military SF fans should be well satisfied. (Apr.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
In this ongoing series (prequels are A Hymn Before Battle and Gust Front), Earth has been successfully invaded by the Posleen, a horse-like race of technologically advanced aliens who now occupy much of the planet. They appear to spend much of their time battling the last few holdouts of humans. Although the Posleen have arrived in interstellar ships, they fight on the ground rather than running blitzkrieg air strikes, charging en masse into human enemy fire. There is some explanation about why they evolved this way, struggle being a necessary part of their civilization. Apparently, the only reason the Posleen haven't defeated the humans completely is that they lack creative individual thought, instead being hardwired to reproduce and attack. One Posleen leader, Tulostenatoor, begins thinking outside the traditional box, but as this is part of a series of stories, the plot isn't resolved at the end of this book. Oddly, even though the Posleen have now so overrun the Earth that humans have retrenched to small pockets of isolated groups, there is still an American hierarchy of incompetent brass giving questionable orders to grunts. Even stranger, despite being reduced to a severe minority, the American higher-ups still give psychological tests to women to see if they're combat capable. Indeed, one female character is found later to have male training implanted into her damaged brain. This is a pro-war book, in love with combat and weapons, beginning and ending in ongoing battle. Characters are basically names attached to guns and nearly the entire book consists of attacks and counterattacks. In the afterword, the author, personally familiar with combat, calls 9/11 a "wake up"call and exhorts the U.S. to fight. With heroic poems sprinkled throughout, charts at the back of psi over pressure waves for nuclear explosions, a glossary of military terms and a list of recommended heavy metal music to listen to while reading, this book is definitely for the NRA crowd. KLIATT Codes: A; Recommended for advanced students and adults. 2002, Baen, 704p.,
— Liz LaValley
Library Journal
The invasion of Earth by the Posleen, a vicious alien race, results in the conquest and devastation of much of the world; in the United States, however, a few enclaves of humans make a stand along the Appalachian Mountain range using guerrilla tactics, modern weaponry, and a host of dirty tricks. Major Mike O'Neal and his forces, used to fighting the Posleen in space, now wage a desperate battle for survival on their home ground. Continuing the story begun in A Hymn Before Battle and Gust Front, Ringo demonstrates his flair for fast-paced military sf peopled with three-dimensional characters and spiced with personal drama as well as tactical finesse. A strong addition to most libraries' sf collection. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Third in Ringo's series of military science fiction yarns about an invasion of Earth by the predatory, centaurlike Posleen (the multispecies, pacifist galactic confederation can't fight the Posleen; the dominant Darhel intend to use humans to do the job, but fear the aftermath). The Posleen invasion of Earth has to be reckoned a success; the only significant undefeated region is North America, where the US holds Appalachia in the east and the Rockies in the west. The Posleen-semi-intelligent hordes guided by centurion God Kings-use wave upon wave of assault tactics to overwhelm defenses; despite their huge losses, they breed rapidly and can eat either humans or their own dead. Still, advanced weaponry aside, they have weaknesses: they can't stop artillery or cross significant barriers. A few Posleen, however, seem to be developing more advanced tactics-bad news for the human defenders, outnumbered thousands to one. The action here spans the period September 11-27, 2009, and details the progress of a huge Posleen attack in Georgia aimed at breaching the eastern defensive line and threatening nearby underground cities. So serious is the threat that nuclear weapons, hitherto banned, may be required to stem the tide. The usual cast of familiar, well-drawn characters, layer upon layer of military procedure, and slathering of weapons and tactics, but, this time, loads of chat, little action save in the closing chapters, and no attempt to update the Big Picture. Your move.

Product Details

Publication date:
Human-Posleen War Series , #3
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.78(w) x 4.14(h) x 1.18(d)

Read an Excerpt

When the Devil Dances

By John Ringo

Baen Books

ISBN: 0-7434-3540-0

Chapter One

The Commando's Prayer

Give me, my God, what you still have; give me what no one asks for. I do not ask for wealth, nor success, nor even health.

People ask you so often, God, for all that, that you cannot have any left.

Give me, my God, what you still have. Give me what people refuse to accept from you. I want insecurity and disquietude; I want turmoil and brawl.

And if you should give them to me, my God, once and for all, let me be sure to have them always, for I will not always have the courage to ask for them. -Corporal Zirnheld

Special Air Service

1942 Clayton, GA, United States, Sol III

2325 EDT Friday September 11, 2009 AD

The night sky over the ruins of Clayton, Georgia, was rent by fire as a brigade's worth of artillery filled the air with shrapnel. The purple-orange light of the variable time rounds revealed the skeleton of a shelled-out Burger King and the scurrying centauroid shapes of the Posleen invaders.

The crocodile-headed aliens scattered under the hammer of the guns and Sergeant Major Mosovich grinned at the metronomic firing of the team sniper. There had been three God Kings leading the Posleen battalion, what the invaders called an "oolt'ondar," a unit over size varying from a human battalion to a division. Two of the three leader castes had been tossed from their saucer-shaped antigrav craft with two precisely targeted rounds before the last had increased the speed of his saucer-shaped craft and flown quickly out of sight. Once he was gone the sniper began working on the Posleen "normals."

The rest of Long Range Reconnaissance Team Five held its fire. Unlike the sniper, with his match-grade .50 caliber rifle, the tracers from the rest of the team would be sure to give them away. And then it would be wheat against the scythe; even without their leaders, the battalion of semi-intelligent normals would be able to wipe a LRRP team off the map.

So they directed and corrected the artillery barrage until all of the remaining aliens had scattered out of sight.

"Good shoot," Mueller said, quietly, glancing at the dozens of horse-sized bodies scattered on the roads. The big, blond master sergeant had been fighting or training to fight the Posleen since before most of the world knew they existed. Like Mosovich he had seen most of the bad, and what little good, there had been of the invasion.

When they first got orders to fire up any targets of opportunity while on patrols it did not seem to be a good idea. He'd been chased by the Posleen before and it was no fun. The aliens were faster and had more endurance than humans; getting them off your trail required incredible stealth or sufficient firepower.

However, the invaders never seemed to sustain any pursuit beyond certain zones, and the LRRPs had sufficient firepower to wipe out most of their pursuers. So now they took every chance they could to "fire-up" the invaders. And, truth be told, they took a certain perverse satisfaction from a good artillery shoot.

"Took 'em long enough," Sergeant Nichols groused. The E-5 was a recent transfer from the Ten Thousand. Like all the Spartans the sergeant was as hard as the barrel of his sniper rifle. But he had a lot to learn about being beyond the Wall.

"Arty's usually late," said Mueller, getting to his feet. Like the sniper, the team second, who always took point, was draped in a ghillie cloak. The dangling strips of cloth, designed to break up the human outline and make a soldier nearly invisible in the brush, were occasionally a pain. But it was manifestly useful in hiding the oversized master sergeant.

The lines along the Eastern seaboard had been stable for nearly two years. Each side had strengths and weaknesses and the combination had settled into stalemate.

The Posleen had extremely advanced weaponry, hundreds of generations better than the humans. Their light-weight hypervelocity missiles could open up a main battle tank or a bunker like a tin can and every tenth "normal" carried one. The plasma cannons and heavy railguns mounted on the God King's saucers were nearly as effective and the sensor suite on each saucer swept the air clear of any aircraft or missile that crested the horizon.

In addition to their technological edge they outnumbered the human defenders. The five invasion waves that had hit Earth, and the numerous "minor" landings in between, had ended up dropping two billion Posleen on the beleaguered planet. And it only took two years for a Posleen to reach maturity. How many there were on Earth at this point was impossible to estimate.

Of course not all of those had landed on North America. Indeed, compared to the rest of the world the U.S. was relatively unscathed. Africa, with the exception of some guerrilla activity in central jungles and South African ranges, had been virtually wiped from the map as a "human" continent. Asia had suffered nearly as badly. The horselike Posleen were at a distinct disadvantage in mountainous and jungle terrain, so portions of Southeast Asia, especially the Himalayas, Burma and portions of Indochina, were still in active resistance. But China and India were practically Posleen provinces. It had taken the horses less than a month to cross China, repeating Mao's "Long March" and, along the way, slaughtering a quarter of the Earth's population. Most of Australia and the majority of South America, with the exception of the deep jungle and the Andes spine, had fallen as well.

Europe was a massive battleground. The Posleen did poorly in extreme cold, not from the cold so much as an inability to forage, so both the Scandinavian peninsula and the Russian interior had been ignored. But Posleen forces had taken all of France and Germany except portions of Bavaria and swept around in an unstoppable tide to take all the North German plain to the edge of the Urals. There they had stopped more from distaste for the conditions than any military resistance.

At this point there was resistance throughout the Alps and down through the Balkans and Eastern Europe but the beleaguered survivors remained low on food, manufacturing resources and hope. The rest of Europe, all of the lowlands and the bulk of the historically "central" zones, were in Posleen hands.

America, through a combination of luck, terrain and strategic ruthlessness had managed to survive.

On both coasts there were plains which, except for specific cities, had been ceded to the Posleen. But the north-south mountain ranges on both sides of the continent, along with the Mississippi, had permitted the country to reconsolidate and even locally counterattack.

In the West the vast bulk of the Rockies protected the interior, preventing a link-up between the Posleen trapped in the narrow strip of land between the mountains and the sea. That narrow strip of land, however, had once contained a sizable percentage of the population of the U.S. and the effect of the dislocation and civilian loss there was tremendous. In the end most of the residents of California, Washington and Oregon made it to safe havens in the Rockies. Most of them found themselves in the still-building underground cities, the "Sub-Urbs" recommended by the Galactics. There they sat, working in underground factories to produce the materials the war needed and sending forth their hale to defend the lines.

There were many untapped sources of materials in the Rockies and all of them were being exploited, but what was missing was food production. Prior to the first landing all holds had been released on agricultural production and the American agricultural juggernaut had responded magnificently. But most of the spare food had ended up being sent to the few fortified cities on the plains. They were scheduled to hold out for five years and food was their overriding concern. So there was, elsewhere, a severe shortage when the first massive landing occurred. Almost all the productive farmlands in the west, with the exception of the Klamath Basin, had been captured by the Posleen. So most of the food for the Western Sub-Urbs had to be provided over a long, thin link across the Northern Plains following I-94 and the Santa Fe Railroad. Sever that link and eighty-five million people would slowly starve to death.

In the east it was much the same. The Appalachian line stretched from New York to Georgia and linked up with the Tennessee River to create an uncrossable barrier from the St. Lawrence to the Mississippi. The Appalachians, however, were nothing compared to the Rockies. Not only were they lower throughout, but they had passes that were nearly as open as flatland. Thus the Posleen found numerous places to assault all along the line. And the fighting at all of them, Roanoke, Rochester, Chattanooga and others, had been intense and bloody. In all the gaps regular formations, mixed with Galactic Armored Combat Suits and the elite Ten Thousand, battled day and night against seemingly unending waves of Posleen. But the lines held. They held at times only because the survivors of an assault were too tired to run, but they held. They bent from time to time but nowhere had they ever been fully sundered.

The importance of the Appalachian defenses could not be overstated. With the loss of the coastal plains, and much of the Great Plains, the sole remaining large areas for food production were Central Canada, the Cumberland plateau and the Ohio Valley. And although the Canadian plains were high quality grain production areas, their total production per acre was low and they were effectively unable to produce a range of products. In addition, while there was increasing industry throughout British Columbia and Quebec, the logistical problems of a broad-based economy in nearly sub-Arctic conditions that had always plagued Canada continued even in the face of the Posleen threat. It was impossible to shoehorn the entire surviving population of the U.S. into Canada and if they did the survivors would be no better off than the Indians huddling in the Gujarrat and Himalayas.

Lose the Cumberland and Ohio and that would be for all practical purposes the end of active defense. There would be humans left on the continent, but like all the other major continents, they would be shattered survivors digging for scraps in the ruins.

Knowing that the lower Great Plains were indefensible the forces there, mostly armor and Galactic armored suits, had retreated, never engaging unless they could inflict terrific casualties. This retreat had ended near the Minnesota River for much the same reason as the Siberian retreat. However, the Posleen had succeeded in one objective, whether they knew it was an objective or not. In the long withdrawal, the 11th MI, the largest block of GalTech Armored Combat Suits on Earth, was destroyed.

All of these defenses were predicated on the Posleen's major weaknesses: inability to handle artillery and inability to cross significant barriers. The God Kings were able to engage aircraft and missiles with almost one hundred percent certainty but still were unable to stop indirect, free-flight artillery. So as long as they were in artillery range of humans they were vulnerable. And because of their odd mental dichotomy, it was virtually impossible for them to overrun modern defensive structures. Posleen attacks that carried the first layer of a prepared defense normally involved casualty rates of one hundred Posleen for every human killed; even with their overwhelming numbers they simply could not take more than the front rank of a prepared defense. And virtually all the defenses along the Rockies and Appalachians were layered with large units up and multiple supporting units. So the Posleen came on and they died in such vast numbers that it was impossible to count. And they lost. Every time.

Now, in most areas humans crouched behind their redoubtable defenses while the Posleen created a civilization just out of artillery range. And in between was a weed-choked and ghost-haunted no-man's-land of shattered towns and ruined cities.

And it was this wilderness through which the LRRPs patrolled.

"Let's head out," Mosovich said quietly, slipping his binoculars into their case. The binos were old technology, not even light gathering, but in conditions like this they worked well enough. And he liked to have a completely nonelectronic backup; batteries, even GalTech batteries, ran out. "I suspect those guys were headed south towards our target."

"What, exactly, are we supposed to do against a globe, Jake?" Mueller asked. But, nonetheless, he headed down the slope to the south.

The week before one of the gigantic "battleglobes" of the Posleen invader had been detected in a landing pattern. The vessel had landed with more control than normal for the Posleen. Usually the landings were more or less at random but this globe landed in one of the few areas in the Eastern U.S. that was not covered by heavy fire; the Planetary Defense Center that would have interfered with the landing had been destroyed before completion.

The globes were made up of thousands of smaller vessels from multiple worlds. They formed at predetermined deep-space rendezvous then proceeded to the target planet. When they reached the outer strands of the atmosphere the globes broke up and the subvessels, Lampreys and Command Dodecahedrons, would fan out in a giant circle around the landing target.

It was one of these that had landed somewhere around the already conquered Clarkesville, Georgia. And it was the LRRP's job to find it and find out where the forces from it were going.

So far it looked like they were gathering forces, not leaving. Which was, to say the least, unusual.

"First we find it," said Mosovich. "Then we figure out what to do."

Finding it would be difficult. There were parties of Posleen moving everywhere throughout the rugged countryside. Since the centauroid Posleen found mountains difficult, that meant they were confined to the roads. That meant in turn that the LRRP team had to be careful to avoid roads. The best way to do that would have been to "ridge run"-follow ridges from hilltop to hilltop. However, the general trend of the ridges in the North Georgia hills was from east to west, rather than north to south. Thus the team had to first climb up one ridge, averaging from two to six hundred feet, then down the other side. In the valley they would carefully cross the inevitable stream and road, then ascend the next ridge.

Mosovich took them wide off of Highway 441, descending from their perch on Black Rock Mountain and down into the wilderness around Stonewall Creek.


Excerpted from When the Devil Dances by John Ringo Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

John Ringo is author of the New York Times best-selling Legacy of Aldenata (Posleen War) series, which so far includes A Hymn Before Battle and nine sequels, the technothriller series starting with Ghost, a dark fantasy titled Princess of Wands, and many other novels for Baen. A veteran of the 82nd Airborne, Ringo brings first-hand knowledge of military operations to his fiction.

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When the Devil Dances 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've read the whole series over and over. I'm what you'd call a typical soccer mom with two kids, a stable job, and cookies in the oven. I think it should be required reading in all high-schools and colleges throughout the country(as if). If it scares you, tears at your heart, and makes you think, everyone needs a turn between those pages. John Ringo is an ecceptional author and I await more brilliance with anticipation.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is the middle of a series and it shows.But thats not a bad thing.Ringo takes time to show his characters living in a war zone.The action when it hapens is to the point.A great lead in for the last book in the series. Oh yeah, he even sneeks in a Army Of Darkness refrence for us geeks! Hail to tht king baby!!
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