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ABOUT KNIGHT’S MOVE

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ABOUT: Knight’s Move

The ending of Tide of Fortune took faithful readers by surprise in the major sea battle off Fuerteventura. Frankly, it left me breathless--one of the most dramatic and eventful moments of the series. Brother, when this author wants to crank it up, he waxes poetic, which is how he presented that thrilling climax. The poetry of T.S. Eliot was woven through that pulse pounding prose in an artful synthesis, where the split seconds in the long chain from sighting, to training, to firing, ruled the hour, and the lives of so many brave officers and sailors. It was just stunning.

The battle off Fuerteventura was certainly one of the largest naval engagements presented in the series to date, and a bloody affair on both sides. Steel was shattered, blood was shed, and we saw the fateful intervention of Admiral Volsky taking the helm aboard HMS Invincible when Tovey, and most of the bridge crew, were knocked senseless by a 16-inch round fired by the Hindenburg. There, in those few brief minutes, we enter the mind of our old series hero Admiral Volsky as he stares at the ominous hulk of the unexploded shell that penetrated the bridge. Frankly, it was the last thing I expected when HMS Invincible rushed into battle, and the explosion that followed finally took the life of our favorite Admiral… or did it? There was that brief moment when the Admiral touches the key given to him by Fedorov, a key that we know came from the mysterious figure of Pavel Kamenski, left on the nightstand of his quarters aboard Kirov for Fedorov to find. Here, let the author’s own words relate what happens in those final seconds on the bridge of Invincible:

“There, in that last, tense and wild moment, Volsky felt something in his pocket, an odd warming, and then he was surprised to see a strange green light. It was the key, silently turning in its own unaccountable way, working its strange magic on the scene, clicking some unseen tumbler in the lock on Time’s door.”


Given some of the things that Kamenski told Fedorov, about his history books suddenly changing, the world around him suddenly different, while he remained unchanged, aware of how things once were—well this is perhaps a strong clue that the Key may have a good deal to do with Volsky’s fate in this incident. I can’t see how at the moment, for if you are standing ten or twelve feet from a massive shell like that when it goes off, there will be very little left of you in the aftermath. And that is where we begin book five in this engaging third season of the Kirov Series. You will be pleased to know that at least one Admiral survived, John Tovey, and Knight’s Move opens with his deep inner muse as he contemplates the aftermath of the battle off Fuerteventura, his hand resting lightly on the bundled last remains of the man who saved his life.

Knight’s Move has several meanings in this next volume. First off, it is the English translation for the German word Rösselsprung, which is the name of the raiding operation assigned to Kaiser Wilhelm and the Goeben after Fuerteventura. Raeder sends the ships south along the African coast, where they soon threaten the urgently mounted “Winston Special” convoys intending to relieve two embattled islands in this story. One is Gran Canaria, where the British consolidate after being driven off Fuerteventura and Lanzarote, and now await the second phase of the German Operation Condor. It’s all here.

The second is the embattled island of Singapore, for the entire Japanese operation in Malaya is recounted in this volume, relentlessly closing in on the final prize in a segment entitled “Rock of the East.” Yet, true to its intent as an alternate history of WWII, the author introduces changes in the history that will profoundly affect the outcome of Yamashita’s battle.

While those two battles are being recounted, we are also treated to a third major operation taking place in the Northern Pacific. Yes, the villain we love and hate with equal fervor, Vladimir Karpov, launches his long awaited “Plan 7,” with its initial objective being the seizure of Kamchatka. Looking much like the Malay Peninsula if compared on a map, this action in southern Kamchatka presents Karpov’s unexpected attack, and the drive to secure the major center of gravity there, Petropavlovsk, a base the Japanese now call Kazantochi. All three battles end up involving some form of airborne or amphibious operation, and they are all covered in the same kind of detail as we saw in earlier battles like Operation Felix.

Meanwhile, and woven throughout those battle narratives, the sortie of Kaiser Wilhelm continues as it embarks on Operation Rösselsprung. This becomes another naval saga, where we see details of how the Germans rendezvous with their secret fleet of tanker replenishment ships, and also watch as the British desperately try to defend a pair of vital convoys, WS-15 and WS-16. After being routed well west of the battle underway on the Canary Islands, the ships turn southeast to seek the protection of British air cover in the Cape Verde island group. From there they angle southeast again towards Freetown before continuing on to Cape Town. With few operational battleships available after Fuerteventura, the action at sea now features smaller ships, the fast British cruisers that serve as able knights in a game of chess. The author uses that extended metaphor throughout the book, the notion of small, yet daring moves to penetrate the enemy camp in all these actions.

Then, right in the thick of things, we get another of those intriguing and engaging vignettes the author is fond of recounting, and it has a strong tie in to the book’s title, though it is one that cannot be revealed here. The opening note to readers touches on it briefly, wherein the author confesses that he awoke one morning, his head filled with research on the series, and with two words stuck in his mind. That’s a fairly eerie event when he Googles those words and finds that, instead of random nonsense from a dream, they had a firm basis in reality! The result is a captivating slice of the history that serves a dual purpose here. While presenting historical background on the campaign shaping up as Siberia faces off against Japan, it also has a little twist in it that astute readers will surely pick up on.

Something is brewing in this brief diversion, as we have learned that everything presented in these books becomes an integral part of the elaborately constructed plot as we go forward, deepening the mystery of the story. But that’s not all! Another mystifying plot line begins earlier, with something Alan Turing shares with Admiral Tovey that starts the cat meowing here in part VI, entitled “Shadow of Things to Come.” In the course of their wandering sortie into the South Atlantic, the Germans fall under that shadow and discover something truly mind boggling. But I’ve sworn not to breathe a word of it. You’ll just have to wait and see.

Oh yes, there is one final reference that touches on the title of this volume—new alternate history warships! We already have two new ships in Kaiser Wilhelm and the Goeben, but now the British get into the game with the first of a new super heavy cruiser project, the Knight Class. Something more than a cruiser, but less than a battlecruiser, Admiral Tovey finally gets his wish for additional speed in his fleet. As the doddering old WWI era battleships are slowly being eliminated from the active register of Royal Navy ships, here is a pair shiny new Knights in armor, Sir Lancelot and Sir Galahad, and soon they get pulled into the hunt for the German raiding group, with more at stake in that search than anyone realizes.

Knight’s Move continues with the same detailed and riveting account of the war as it takes us into the early months of 1942. The book has everything you’ve come to expect from this author, lovingly detailed research that makes this alternate history ring so true, intriguing mystery, surprising twists, and loads of action on land, air, and sea, with battles spanning the globe from the Atlantic to the Pacific. So don’t hesitate. Make your move and get this book into your kindle right on schedule come the 1st of November. Only on Amazon.

 

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Kirov Saga:
Knight’s Move


By
John Schettler

Part I – A Different Game
Part II – Banzai!
Part III – Rösselsprung
Part IV – Rock of the East
Part V – Bitter Dregs
Part VI – Shadow of Things To Come
Part VII – Gift of the Magi
Part VIII – Plan 7
Part IX – Knight’s Move
Part X – Cover of Darkness
Part XI – Encounter
Part XII – Flight of the Goeben

36 Chapters - 328 pages

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