Friday, May 27, 2016

James Review -- Destroyermen: Straits of Hell

This week I decided to review Destroyermen: Straits of Hell by Taylor Anderson. 

The novel begins shortly after the surviving crew of the USS Walker, a destroyer displaced from World War II to an alternate universe, and the feline Lemurians they have allied with, have seized the capital of the Grik, a reptilian species whose culture primarily sees other sentient species as slaves and food sources though they have allied with some Japanese forces displaced from the Second World War. With the leader of the Grik killed in their capital’s fall, Eshk, among the most dangerous of the Grik military commanders due to his willingness to ignore tradition, works to gain the regency for whichever under-aged daughter of the fallen leader emerges from the bloodbath of Grik rituals for claiming the throne victorious, while also manipulating his Grik enemies into sending themselves to their own deaths. 

Meanwhile, the Dominion, a nightmarish religious state, prepares to assault the alliance’s Fort Defiance which is still struggling to recover from a devastating illness. And the League of Tripoli, a force formed by fascist forces from a timeline where France, Italy, and Spain are the major fascist powers, begins to work to hinder the alliance’s efforts to secure aid from their allies while also working to keep the factions they claim to be assisting weakened. 

Knowing they will need more strength, the alliance leadership sends a small team to find the remaining inhabitants of the Lemurian homelands, which have been cut off from the allied Lemurians since the Grik invasion long ago. But while the mission is away the Dominion unleashes a massive assault on Fort Defiance aided by new secret weapons, and a Grik force lures the alliance fleet away from Grik City, leaving the city’s defenses badly weakened as a counterattack closes in. The book also includes a small section at the back detailing the ships, aircraft, and weapons used by the various forces seen in the book.

I give the book 8.5 out of 10. Despite having never read any of the many earlier books in the series, I was able to get a good feel for the setting and the various cultures and governments in the book. The battle sequences were well-written and there were some interesting ideas for tactics used by the forces to compensate for the mixed-technology bases used by all sides. Also, the author did a great job of keeping the various units in use relevant despite the disparity in technology levels, with no one force seeming too overwhelming despite any tech advantages they might have.

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