The final installment in Bond and DeFelice’s four-book Red Dragon Rising series sees China moving inexorably toward its conquest of Vietnam, while those in the know in the United States government and security services work behind the scenes to stop the Chinese juggernaut in its tracks.
In the Red Dragon Rising series’ version of 2014, climate change has brought the world to the brink of chaos. As the fourth and final book in the series opens, the Chinese army is preparing to sweep through Vietnam as part of a famine-ravaged China’s quest to conquer the smaller nation, primarily as a source of food. Maj. Zeus Murphy is still in country, and he’s come up with a plan to stall the Chinese advance, but in order to put it in motion, he’s going to need to work with the Vietnam People's Army as well as some of the darker elements of the CIA. Back at home, President George Greene, who believes China should be stopped sooner rather than later, and whose approval is necessary to set Murphy’s plan in motion, is facing a political crisis which may tie his hands. Meanwhile, while Josh MacArthur, the scientist who presented the world with proof that China’s justification for going to war was fabricated, is cooling his heels in rural Ohio and pining for CIA agent Mara Duncan, a Chinese assassin is lurking nearby, waiting for an opportunity to strike. Naturally, Bond, who co-authored the quintessential military techno-thriller Red Storm Rising with Tom Clancy, is at his best depicting the technological components of modern warfare. He displays an encyclopedic knowledge of modern weapons systems and tactics, and he knows how to use his knowledge to full advantage without bogging things down in military acronyms and technobabble, thus creating exquisite tension during action scenes. When actual human emotions figure into the plot, though, as love does in several instances in this book, things read a little bit off, but few will notice or particularly care thanks to the novel's steamroller plot and tense action sequences.
Bond and DeFelice conjure a chillingly all-too-believable near future global conflict.