Terra of the future looks pretty good overall and Earth along with a few space stations are united under one representative government. The largest threat to that security is an enigmatic alien race, the Greys, that likes to kidnap humans for an unknown purpose. Although technologically stronger the Greys are vulnerable to powerful psionic attacks which has made the psi guilds prominent in the space navy. For that reason the government and the space navy take it very seriously when precogs all over the globe start reporting visions of navy personnel encountering at least one new race, and possibly two. Based upon those visions the navy launches a new set of exploratory missions including a crew made up of six people seen in the visions. Unfortunately for them, the visions all agree that there will be a crew of humans at the mercy of a hostile race that intends to eat them alive.
Emmett is smart enough to know it sounds too good to be true, but he's desperate for money and being one of the first humans to visit another planet would be really cool. Still, he doesn't trust the slick corporate mouthpiece and once he's in space he would have no way of knowing if his mom was getting the medical care they promised. Then the guy's ring starts changing shapes, a ring made out of Nyxia, a substance Babel Corp found on the planet they call Eden, and Emmett is hooked. Besides, the contract looks legal. Naturally there's a catch or three, or maybe ten. First, the planet Eden is already inhabited by humanoids, but they say its not a problem because they have an agreement, not to mention the wildlife which killed most of the survey team. But they wait until Emmet and the other nine recruits are on the ship to reveal the most immediate catch. Only seven of them will actually be going down to Eden and so the trip will be spent in physical training and learning to manipulate Nyxia with their minds to prove themselves worthy of risking their lives for an enormous sum of money. However, not even Babel Corp is prepared for the really big catch that may kill them all.
The cruise ship Intrepid is just about out of fuel and this forces their hand even though they would prefer to remain far away from land at this point. A nearby island has offered to trade fuel for food, and they claim they have not been affected by the rage virus, but can these islanders actually be trusted? It really doesn't matter because with the number of Parasitics locked up on the ship if they run out of fuel then they will no longer be able to keep them contained. The monitoring of the Parasitics has also revealed some very disturbing behaviors that show they aren't just mindless killers and then of course there are the Symptomatics - infected individuals who are able to hold back the rage from taking control. With few guns on board and threats inside the ship and out it is clear that the situation has reached the breaking point.
Once again the galaxy's strangest inhabitants are staying at Getrude Hunt Inn but at least Dinah now has Sean to help her control the chaos. Sweep With Me is somewhere between a novella and a full length book and takes place at the same time as book four. Dinah is still recovering from the traumatic events and dealing with the consequences of what happened in One Fell Sweep. First she has to get through the three days of the Treaty Stay, the annual celebration where the Inns honor the galactic treaty that protects Earth. During those three days the Inn must accept any guest including a flock of Koo-Ko (space chickens) trying to settle a religious debate, an infamous Medamoth warlord claiming he's on a pilgrimage, and one of the mysterious Drifan from another dimension. Its a mix of the serious and ridiculous that culminates in an epic display of power that Dinah and Sean have to keep hidden from the rest of Earth.
The second book picks up right where the first one left off with things seemingly settled down aboard the cruise ship Intrepid but with a flock of infected birds headed their way. The ship has come to grips with the fact that animals all around the world have become violent and after finally containing their own pet related issues they are starting to think that being at sea is going to be a real advantage. Then the birds attack and they come to the realization that the rage disease not only turns animals violent but it can also infect humans. These humans come to be known as Parasitics and they are just as bloodthirsty as their animal counterparts. Now being aboard that cruise ship isn't quite the advantage they thought it might be.
Ted and TJ Williams almost miss their transatlantic cruise due to a volcanic eruption and the resulting impact on air travel throughout Europe. As they adapt their travel plans to reach their ship on time there are a number of curious events going on around them. First there is a dog attack that occurs when they are picking up their rental car, which is particularly impactful to TJ who was traumatized by a dog attack in her past. Then there is an aggressive flock of birds that kills an elderly couple and finally as they board their cruise ship there is a pack of rats that terrorizes the port and causes the massive ship to set off early without the full complement of passengers and crew. At this point Ted starts to piece together the relationship between the volcanic eruption and the animal behavior and he thinks that sailing across the Atlantic might have saved them from a real disaster until the news starts coming in about volcanoes erupting all around the world.
An alien fleet was on the way to take our planet since early in the first book and most of the story thus far has been focused on the struggle between the aliens already here and our attempts to prepare for that bigger invasion. Things have change greatly for the nations of Earth since we became aware of the threat and the geo-political landscape is no longer the same. TASC, the independent entity responsible for preparing our defense and affiliated with no country, has no qualms about using advanced technology to manipulate the countries of the world into supporting its agenda. At first I thought it was nice to see this independent agency running things to avoid the usual in fighting between countries, but since TASC is made up of humans of course it happens anyway. With the moment of the alien arrival now finally here, is the reader rewarded with a payoff worth all the time invested in the series so far?
Now that the threat of a deadly alien virus being dropped from space has been eliminated the focus turns towards finding the remaining alien agents. Eight alien agents arrived in secret during the first book and they all assumed human identities allowing them to seamlessly blend into the population. But after two of those agents decided to fight on the side of humanity the odds are quite different. The double agents were able to take out two others before their betrayal was discovered but so that leaves four remaining but it won't be so simple to deal with the rest. With a massive alien fleet already en route to the Earth we have only ten years left to prepare and the remaining four alien agents will do everything they can to make sure we aren't ready.
This series continues to develop both in seriousness and entertainment with Blade being the snarkiest yet. At the end of book three Arland, who swears he's nothing but a simple warrior, eloquently asked Maude to marry him. She said, maybe? Arland is the epitome of a young male vampire and the pride of his House and Maude has experience with being the human bride among vampires. She wants to make sure that his House, and especially his mother Lady Ilemina, accept her and her half vampire daughter Helen. They both arrive on his home planet in the midst of a treaty wedding between two rival Houses being hosted by House Krahr as a neutral third party. They are of course up to something and have set their sights on House Krahr's shiny new mobile battle station. In a culture where the wrong words require a duel to the death Maude finds herself playing the clueless human to draw them out.
I knew this was an alien invasion book going in but it turned out not to be exactly what I was expecting. Aliens coming for our planet is pretty cliché at this point so I was expecting the typical large invasion force to show up and start kicking our asses right from the start; however, that isn't what happened. Instead it turns out that these invaders have studied humanity well enough from afar to know that if they just showed up and attacked us we would likely just nuke the planet to hell in the ensuing war and they would be left with nothing. They want a habitable planet so they need to deal with us first. Hence they launch a covert operation that arrives eleven years ahead of their full fleet, which is already on it's way, with the intent of either disarming our nuclear capability, or if that plans falls through then just wiping us out with a deadly virus. Either way they have the technology to pull it off as long as they remain undetected...