The close of Thor’s Anvil in the midst of the Russian Winter Offensive brought us a most unexpected scene. There, waking from a fitful sleep in a bunk aboard Kazan,
one of the principle characters of the series seemed to be resurrected, ready to share a toast to the onset of the next volume as the story enters 1943. There was old Papa Volsky,
and the mystery of how he comes to be alive is all to be explained in this upcoming volume, 1943. It was cleverly foreshadowed earlier in the opening segment of volume 7 in the third season, Steel Reign.
There we learn that Volsky, at least the original man that we first met in volume 1 of the series, was still alive aboard Kirov, where the ship remains stranded in the ether of
that strange fog.
That segment also began to see the development of Orlov’s awakening, a process Fedorov helps along, and one he takes care to keep from Karpov’s
awareness. So there, at the end of Thor’s Anvil, the author starts to knit together plot lines that have been seeded in the series for some time. Kazan was there, of course, because of the mission handed to Gromyko in the final part of Second Front,
entitled “The Wolf,” and this carried right over to the opening of Tigers East as we began season four, where in Part I, “Turncoat,” we sit with Gromyko again
musing on what he is charged to do, and also find that Nikolin has suddenly gone through the same awakening that possessed Orlov.
Astute readers will note that all the characters
that seem to be able to recall the events of Season 1 ended up having some contact or another with an object related to the Tunguska Event. Orlov and Fedorov had close contact with the
Devil’s Teardrop, and Kamenski and Volsky carried one of those mysterious keys. Something tells me there is a story that remains untold behind Nikolin’s sudden recollection,
but we digress. Volsky is back! In 1943 you will find out the why and how of that, and it is all rolled into Gromyko’s mission aboard Kazan in the frigid north, even as Karpov moves south into the Pacific.
That part of the tale is presented in the last third of this upcoming release, spanning twelve full chapters. Before that, the history of the Pacific War take up right where the latest battle book left off. In fact, if you have the Roll of Thunder / Sea of Fire book set, then you move right into the continuation of the war in the Pacific, largely still focused on the struggle over the Fiji Island group. Both sides seem to have placed all their chips on the board there on Viti Levu, and the action in 1943 goes from the overall offensive strategy hammered out between Nimitz and MacArthur through the operation plans made by Generals Patch and Collins, and then right down to the tactical level where the two Marine Raider Battalions under Edson and Carlson try to infiltrate around the Japanese flank in the north. It happens like a camera slowly zooming closer and closer to the action, until we find ourselves right behind the sights of a Japanese machine gunner as he suddenly spots the stealthy approach of Carlson’s raiders through the misty silence of the jungle.
At sea, we get a lot of naval action as Admiral Halsey is back, and with Spruance he begins the effort to gain control of the waters around Fiji, now reinforced by three new Essex Class carriers. The Japanese also get new ships, a part of their shadow fleet program, though they come with a price when Ugaki convinces Admiral Nagano to release them. So here you will see the war finally transition to the beginnings of the American counteroffensive, and it all plays out on and around Fiji instead of Guadalcanal. Both sides butt heads at sea like two rams, and both sides take losses. Yamamoto can see that attrition to his carriers is now becoming very serious, and now he calls on the man who so brilliantly delivered Ceylon in the Indian Ocean operation, King Kong Hara.
Then, emerging from the Central Pacific, Karpov finally comes on the scene, and his presence with Kirov dominates the action for the remainder of the book. A good deal of that is devoted to the inevitable collision being set up between Kazan and Kirov,
though the return of Admiral Volsky now weighs heavily on that possibility. It puts the question of what will inevitably happen squarely in Fedorov’s lap, and he and Karpov have
another of their marathon encounters to try and determine what to do. We get to all come along, and follow Fedorov into Karpov’s stateroom aboard Kirov as the two men discuss everything.
The book ends, however, with another cameo appearance of Professsor Dorland and his Meridian Project team at their Berkeley Arch facility, wherein we learn
they get wind of something that was foreshadowed at th every end of Book 8. There, in that dramatic Season 1 finale, a story thread that had been slowly developed in that season was
quietly tied off and has seemingly been forgotten. Yet now that Tovey, Volsky, Fedorov, Fairchild and Dorland have all learned of the mysterious set of keys leading to hidden time
fissures, the hunt is on. So this book ends by quietly promising more ahead concerning both Argos Fire, the keys, and the mysterious figure that concluded the final afterword of Armageddon.
next book, Lions at Dawn, promises to take us back to Patton and Monty in North Africa, but this one ends with a nod to what what we have come to call the Keyholder’s Saga. This is again deliberately timed by the author, as the British are taking over possession of the Rock, and Fairchild had obtained permission to send a select team of her “Argonauts” on a recon mission into Saint Michael’s Cave. Hold on to your seats! This season is really starting to evolve here in volume three, and the war is now entering one of the most dramatic years of the conflict.
will be out right on schedule, on or before November 1 in both the Kindle Store and through the “Paperback” link here on these pages that will take you directly to the author’s CreateSpace store page for the hard copy.