Firestorm: Destroyermen Hardcover – Oct 4 2011
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“I cannot recommend Taylor Anderson too highly.”—David Weber, author of Out of the Dark
“Taylor Anderson has brought a fresh new perspective to the tale of crosstime shipwreck.”—S.M. Stirling, author of The Lord of Mountains
“Taylor Anderson and his patched-up four-stackers have steamed to the forefront of alternative history. All aboard for a cracking great read!”—E. E. Knight, author of March in Country
“Taylor Anderson is one of the best at military science fiction as his plots combine cerebral thought-provoking issues within a great adventure tale; the alternate realm of the Destroyermen saga is worth the journey.”—Alternative Worlds
About the Author
Taylor Anderson teaches at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas, and is the author of The Life and Tools of the Rocky Mountain Free Trapper.
William Dufris has been nominated nine times as a finalist for the APA's prestigious Audie Award and has garnered twenty-one Earphones Awards from AudioFile magazine, which also named him one of the Best Voices at the End of the Century. He has also acted on stage and television in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
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To survive, the protagonists have to become very resourceful -- quickly -- and make friends with the native Lemurians (nicknamed the 'Cats), who are mammalian but definitely not human. The major threat to their collective existence consists of Japanese also caught in the storm, who have allied themselves with insane velociraptor-type creatures called the Grik.
OK, I was hooked. Fast forward to Book Six of the series, "Firestorm", and I'm still hooked. It's becoming an expensive habit, buying these things straightaway in hardcover because I can't bear the thought of waiting another year for the paperback edition.
By now, the world of the Destroyermen has become very complex indeed. "Firestorm" came out much sooner than I'd expected, or I would have re-read the previous five volumes to prepare myself. The cast of characters has become so large, I'm having trouble keeping track of them all. Still, I plunged into the story with gusto. By the time I got halfway through the book, it was all coming back to me.
You definitely will want to read those earlier volumes before you start in on this one.
There are several different interwoven storylines picking up from Book Five, "Rising Tides". One arc, on the western front, follows the on-going war with the Grik and their remaining Japanese allies -- those who haven't been eaten yet. This is centered on the island of Ceylon (modern-day Sri Lanka in our universe). The Grik are starting to show disturbing signs of learning how to think for themselves; rather than just try to overwhelm their "prey" in their ravening thousands, they're beginning to actually employ strategy, even deviousness. They've got a few nasty tricks waiting in reserve. Will our friends get caught in a trap? Or will they catch wise to the situation?
On the eastern front is the developing conflict between the Empire of New Britain and the Holy Dominion, a tyranny dominated by some twisted amalgam of Roman Catholicism and the old Aztec religion, complete with human sacrifice and Blood Priests. A number of Americans and Lemurians, allied with Governor-Emperor Gerald McDonald, are trying to free the island of New Ireland from the clutches of the Dominion. The USS Walker, meanwhile, is heading toward North America to head off a likely invasion of some New British colonies. The Doms, as the enemy is known, also have some nasty surprises waiting.
A third story arc involves the appearance of yet more Japanese ships through the rift between universes. It is now late 1943, and the Pacific War is not going so well for Japan. They have some American prisoners who manage to escape, including a cousin of Lieutenant Commander Matt Ready. It is urgent that the allies find this new bunch of Japanese before they can complicate matters even further.
And there are a couple of minor story arcs, which are interesting and will presumably take on greater importance in later installments of the series.
All of our favorite characters are back, including Dennis Silva, Matt Ready, Sandra Tucker, Princess Rebecca McDonald, "Larry the Lizard" and any number of different Lemurians. Unfortunately, as another reviewer also notes, we don't get to spend a lot of time with these people, as different chapters focus on different plotlines and jump back and forth.
In fact, the book could benefit from a "dramatis personae" listing the principal lands, races and characters. Kind of like the "Dragondex" in Anne McCaffrey's early Pern novels. Call it the "Destroyerdex".
Without giving away too much of the plot, I can say that the book ends on a satisfying note for some of our old friends, while others are left in a very sticky predicament. Hopefully, Book Seven isn't too far away. This series has come a long way from that original trilogy, and there's no end in sight.
Increasingly, we're seeing a parallel WWII unfolding in this alternate universe. I can't help but wonder what else might cross over from our world as 1945 comes around.
-Lots of action and battling (realistic as well...no inconsistencies that I can come up with)
-No plot holes or inconsistencies that I know of...(things like stormtrooper accuracy or dues ex machinas)
-interesting plot twists and elements keeps the story engaging
-not a dictionary. Some authors (ahem david weber) can get books to some 800 pages. This one is a good length I think.
-the world is rich with potential storylines and possible plots, much like Eric Flint's 1632 series i would think.
-no super long political meetings (thankfully)
-makes for an enjoyable read overall
-Dennis. Freaking. Silva. that is all.
-if you liked the previous ones, you will definitely like this one.
-The character development is kinda shallow compared to other series i think. I can pretty much label a character and that character will stay true to that label...well forever. So predictable in some ways which detracts from the book a bit.
-The enemies are just that, the bad guys. They have no redeeming qualities, just like the heroes have no real negative qualities (with one exception). Basically, it makes them somewhat boring as a species. (however, this author seems to be working on this)
-there are some points where i felt the author cut off way prematurely, where the situation could have been more explored in depth or actually depicted.
-As the story grows larger, the characters that hooked me are getting less and less screen time. I hope that Mr. Anderson doesn't fall into what I call the Weber Trap, that is, where the world/universe/story grows so large that we lose focus on the characters/type of story that we got hooked on in the 1st place.
I like this book, however, it isn't perfect (mostly due to character development i think) and it simply doesn't have those meaningful moments that gives me reason to reread it. Nothing really touched me on an emotional level. However, I still have high hopes for this author!
In Taylor Anderson's sixth book in this now epic series some of the same flaws are starting to appear. The ones simple war of the survivors from the USS Walker and their Lemurian allies against the Grik centered near Borneo and Ceylon is now a war across the entire Pacific with the main characters allied with an empire derived from some survivors of a East India Company convoy from the 1700s based in Hawaii and fighting on 2 fronts, both against the Grik and a new human empire based in Mexico that practicies a perverse fusion of Aztec and Christian religious rites.
Add in a modern Japanese Destroyer that shows up, but after one attack on an allied Lemurian city vanishes into the Pacific and a Grik deligation sent to South Africa to try to ally with a new "prey", and the story has more threads than some spider webs.
The number of characters being followed and given focal chapters also keeps increasing as Taylor tries to keep readers up on events on both fronts, and in all the capital and critical cities of the alliance.
Add in Grik blimps flying at 15,000 feet (I'm assuming that the elevation is a typo or a character making an error as at that height the air temperature would be far too cold to allow a blimp to fly) and the Dominion having trained pteryldactyls that are capable of keeping up with and taking down a seaplane and the story threatens to spin out of control.
It doesn't in this chapter and is still a very enjoyable read, but the signs are there. Taylor even skips the end of the final battle in this book and has the characters give a rather spotty recap once the USS Walker returns to Hawaii after a fierce battle with the Dominion.
the series is still worth reading, but I worry that it will get out of control in the next volume,
Maybe the earlier books spoiled me, but this one was more about broad scale war and lost some of the personal feel of those earlier struggles where the characters drove the story and not just the technology or fighting. There were times when this entry rivaled anything in the previous ones (the early battle with the beached ships), but I found that to be more the exception than the norm.
I read the other books very quickly, but Firestorm tended to drag. Too many fronts to the war with too many characters popping in and out as if playing a cameo role in a movie. I hope the next one gets back to giving us more of the characters we have become so attached to and resolves the Dominion War quickly.