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Series: Destroyermen #6
Sixth in the Destroyermen military science-fiction series. In our Earth, it’s the start of World War II and ships from both sides occasionally go missing in action. What both sides don’t know is that not all their ships are destroyed. Some pass through a squall into another world, a parallel Earth where humans are not the dominant species.
It’s a terrifying read what with the Grik attempting new ideas, the Japanese commander helping them to recreate his technology, and the treachery of the Dominion. I knew that the only way I could start this book was if I planned to finish it all in one go. The tension would be too great! And, I was right. From the first page, my heart was pounding as I worried right along with the members of the Alliance.
After Rising Tides, 5, too many battlefronts were added. Even worse, the Grik are beginning to realize that their way just isn’t winning any battles.
There was an interesting comment Anderson made about Orrin Reddy being “fascinated by this bizarre ‘Oz’ he’d found himself in”. When you think about it, that’s exactly how it feels. Fantastical beasts. Formidable challenges. Terrifying cultures. And, always, human greed and hunger for power.
The attempted assassination by the Dominion has forced additional fronts to the war. Bad enough when the Alliance had to fight the Grik and its hordes. It was like fighting mindless animals. Those who make up the fanatical Dominion are humans making it a lot more difficult to tell friend from foe in the New Britain Isles.
The original front is the existing blockade between Grik-held Ceylon and the Grik homeland. Commander Greg Garret is holding the line with his small fleet but then the newly-promoted General Halik comes up with a new strategy to break that blockade and Task Force Garret’s destruction speeds up the Alliance’s plans to invade Ceylon; they must rescue the survivors.
A second front is recapturing New Ireland from the Dominion while a third front is the west coast of what we remember as California. The empire has colonies along that coast that must be warned and protected from the Dominion and their Company allies which requires yet another Task Force, this one headed up by the USS Walker. Both will be much more impossible when traitors prowl the seas.
Then, just to make things complicated, a rogue Japanese appalled by the Grik but wary of the Americans, Commander Okada, appears with a sinking battle cruiser, the Mizuki Maru. Seems there’s another Japanese battle cruiser, the Hidoiame, that recently came through a squall. The Hidoiame attacked a village under Okada’s protection but lost some of their own prisoners, Americans which included Matthew’s cousin who brought news of the turning point of the war in the Pacific. Unfortunately, these Japanese crewmen are so angry over their losses in that other world that they have become more Grik-like than human. And the Hidoiame is a complication the Alliance cannot afford.
The surviving American crew members entered into an alliance with the Lemurians, a cat-like people, in the beginning story, Into the Storm, 1. Together they have fought the Grik and pushed them back. Together they have repaired the ships of either side. Created technological innovations and recreated necessary tools and supplies to maintain the USS Walker and other ships they capture or discover.
Some of the equipment and weapons the Alliance has managed to resurrect includes PB-2s, P-40s, batteries, smelters, welding equipment, oil refining, wireless communication, casting cannon, rifling gun barrels — talk about a recycling project!
Alliance Forces include…
…Captain Matthew Reddy of the USS Walker is also the Commander in Chief of All Allied Forces. Lieutenant Sandra Tucker, one of the surviving nurses from our Earth, is now the Minister of Medicine and she and Reddy have finally become engaged.
The Lemurians are…
…divided into Clans with each having its own ruler. The Clans themselves are divided into land-based and water-dwelling with each referring to their home base as Home. Sor-Lomaak is Chief of Body of Home, the ship Salaama-Na. Admiral Keje. An important character is Major Chack-Sab-At. A former peaceful Wingrunner for his Home, Chack trained hard to become a Marine to fight for his people. Adar is High Chief and Sky Priest of Baalkpan, the first Lemurian land base encountered by the USS Walker, and Chairman of the Grand Alliance. He became High Chief when the Great Nakja-Mur was killed during fighting. Baalkpan is the major shipyard for the Lemurians and the Americans and where most of the innovative manufacturing is accomplished and the planes are built.
Most of the Japanese ships swept into this world allied with the Grik; however, a few were appalled at Grik customs and went over to the Americans, like Colonel Tamatsu Shinya. Then there’s Lawrence, a Grik-like Tagranesi, whose people were saved by the Americans.
The Empire of the New British Isles is…
…based in what we consider Hawaii. The people sprang from East India Trading Company ships lost centuries ago through their own squalls. Their government evolved into a mixture of ruler and the Company. The ruler is Gerald MacDonald, the General-Emperor of the Empire of the New British Isles. Commodore Harvey Jenks is an Imperial officer who represents the Governor-Emperor out on the seas. He first encountered Captain Reddy in Distant Thunders, 4.
There are really too many crewmen — Lemurians, Americans, and Imperials — to list. Suffice it to say that the Lemurians and the Americans have integrated very well absorbing each others’ cultures. The Imperials have further to go. Admittedly, they have only recently become aware of the Lemurians; they are also incredibly hidebound as to their own superiority.
The Grik are…
…the dominant species on this alternate Earth. A lizard-like being split into three classes: labor which is not capable of independent thought, Hij which may go either up or down in class; and the ruling class which does think except that they’ve been dominant with no battle losses for so long that they’ve forgotten how to think. They have only one use for prisoners. As food. When one of their own dies, he is food. Growing up means survive or become food. The Grik as a whole see others as prey or not prey. Prey is eaten. A Grik soldier who runs in battle becomes prey. Celestial Mother is the title for the Grik ruler. Regent Tsalka and General Esshk are two of the highest personnel in their empire.
General Halik is one of the innovations being tried by the Grik. Similar to a gladiator, his class of fighter would normally be butchered for the stew pot at his age, but the intelligence he displayed was far above his normal class. And the Grik must start thinking more.
The Japanese allies to the Grik include…
…General Orochi Niwa, one of the crewmen of the Amagi and is now an advisor to Halik in Ceylon. General of the Sea Hisashi Kurokawa, formerly the captain of the Amagi, a Japanese Imperial battle cruiser, has thrown in with the Grik.
The Cover and Title
It’s all oranges and shades of gray with dirigibles attacking battleships although I did not get the impression that any one dirigible had that many bombs to let loose!
The title should probably be plural because, oh man, there was a lot more than just one Firestorm hitting combatants.