Wednesday, August 20, 2014

We're raiding Madagascar, where are the cockroaches?

So, either I wasn't the only one complaining about how jumbled Destroyermen's narrative was getting, or Taylor anderson's editor finally helped him create a better narrative timeline for Deadly Shores. This is not to say we don't spend a fair amount of time jumping around between characters and situations, but more that we're jumping around between characters involved in the same front. Unlike a few of the previous volumes, we're not jumping between continents and oceans every chapter, which makes this one a bit easier to follow.

Mind you, we start with Kurokawa's unresolved flight from India, which has been a major front for the past few books, and we still don't exactly know where he wound up. Which then bleeds into Shinya's land war in this alternate Earth's with the Holy Dominion. Which of course, brings the Empire and it's current ruler into the fray as supplies come from what would be Hawaii and the Galapagos islands. The Doms, it seems, are not particularly prepared for land war; as the Allied forces point out, the Dominion commander runs his side of the battle as a chess grandmaster whose only played chess against himself. So, this front is going fairly well, other than stretched supply lines. (Also, it should be noted that Sister Audrey, the nun from Belgium, has been working hard to return the Dominion captives to a more orthodox Catholicism. As such, she now has her own regiment of converted Dominion troops to command. While they didn't particularly show up in this book, we're left with knowledge that they will be soon arriving.)

Then we shift to India, which has been pretty much won by the allies, but Grik General Halik remains blocking further advances. His interactions with General Alden provide again the odd kind of battlefield camaraderie that we hear stories of when discussing the WWI Christmas truce. While it is doubtful Halik and Alden will ever be best of friends, there is a growing resect between them. I'm hoping this continues as the series progresses.

However, the bulk of the book concerns what's supposed to be an almost Doolittle style raid of Madagascar, and the Imperial City of the Grik. The idea is to raid the city and force the Grik to either withdraw from the war or at least slow down. The problem being Madagascar is the Ancestral home of the Lemurians (so named by the Americans because they look like humanoid Lemurs), so Adar, the Lemurian Chairman of the Alliance (and newly forming Union) keeps hinting around that this raid should be more of an invasion. Which is bad, since the fleet moving to raid Madagascar isn't particularly an invasion force.

As such, Chack's Marines, making their way to the Grik capital from the south wind up wandering through the Grik preserve of Worthy Prey. Whereupon they discover what I assume to be the Scots.

II Corps General Queen Safir Maraan leads her forces through a heavily fortified trench system to reach the city, taking heavy casualties. Walker and the fleet manage to destroy much of the Grik fleet in harbor, but Walker winds up hitting a sandbar in the harbor as the tide ebbs, leaving them open to Grik invasion. The Amerika (representing the Republic of Real People, formed by 10th century Romans and absorbing some alternate universe WWI Germans; the Republic is centered  around Cape Horn) is commanded by a senile old man who screws up by following orders without thinking about them. Silva leads a guerrilla team to the palace itself to try to take out the Grik Queen. The Grik Queen is amazed at the attack, since War in Grik society is viewed as entertainment for the lesser classes. It's ugly all the way around, and it leads to conversations that need to be had.

We end again with a small epilogue setting up conflicts hopefully covered in the next book, as the Doms prepare to move their fleet across a much bigger passage where the Panama Canal is in our world, a mysterious iron clad shows up in the Republic of Real People, and Halik and Miyata leave India.

As I said the last time I reviewed a book in this series, this normally isn't my cup of tea. However, I find the characters remain compelling, and the writing is not the hyper macho sensibility that infests other writing in the fantasy war genre. (Seriously. Much as I sort of enjoyed E.E. Knight's Vampire Earth series, it got to a point where I expected everyone to eat raw meat while smoking cigars and beating up women after a while.)

*Came back and re-edited, since I had Rolak listed as Chairman, when it's really Adar. Don't know what I was thinking.