Baen Books, 312 pp.
This is the latest (and last, for a while) installment in Ringo’s Posleen War series. For reader’s of the first three books (A Hymn Before Battle, Gust Front, and When the Devil Dances) this is a must-read. If you haven’t read the earlier books you will most likely be unappreciative of this one. If you haven’t read any of this series and you’re a fan of military SF, crawl out from under your rock and buy them all. Ringo is easily the best new military SF writer to come around in a while and this series (Gust Front especially) shows him at the top of his game. Unfortunately, publishing deadlines and the 9/11 attacks forced Ringo to cut his last book short; Hell’s Faire was originally meant to be the concluding chapters of When the Devil Dances. Unfortunately, the book suffers some from the obvious padding that was needed to stretch the conclusion out to full novel length (and it’s still less than half the length of the previous volumes). The added material brings out a lot more of Ringo’s rather wicked sense of humor but also saddles the reader with an almost constant barrage of in-jokes that must be annoying to those not in the know. As for the rest of the book though, the action scenes are still cranked to eleven and the Posleen are still one of the nastiest alien menaces to ever invade our planet. Hell’s Faire ties up some loose ends but leaves us hanging on some of the larger issues that have been looming behind the scenes since the first book and it looks like it’s going to be a while before Ringo returns to the series as he is currently involved in several other projects.