Firestorm (2011) is the sixth book in Taylor Anderson’s DESTROYERMEN series about the WWII navy warship USS Walker that was hurled into an alternate Earth during an electrical storm. (If you didn’t know that, you should probably stop here and go back to read the first book, Into the Storm, and the subsequent volumes before continuing on.)
In Firestorm, our heroes are spread out across the world trying to stop evil in its several guises. There are the Grik — the lizard-like horde that eats people — who seem like the most natural enemy. But then there are the “bad Japs” who also came through the storm and who were enemies back when everyone was on the “real” Earth. And there’s also the Dominion, a society of humans who adhere to a warped version of Christianity and who enslave women. The Destroyermen and their Lemurian allies are fighting on all these fronts with Walker and the ships and planes they have salvaged, captured, or built since arriving.
There are a few new twists in Firestorm. The Grik, with the help of the bad Japanese, are beginning to genetically engineer their soldiers so that they now fight smarter — not so much with the hive-mind mentality they had before. They’ve also created a surprise weapon which, for any sighted reader, turns out not to be a surprise because it’s clearly displayed in all its glory on the cover of the book. There are a couple of other minor twists involving new ships and personnel (along with news from the real world), but mostly the plot continues as it did in the previous book, Rising Tides.
In my previous reviews of the DESTROYERMEN series I’ve mentioned that it’s a lot like Robert Jordan’s WHEEL OF TIME — a slow-moving plot and a huge cast of characters spread out over an entire world. At this point in the series, this description seems even more appropriate and I think I can predict that readers who loved WOT all the way through will probably love DESTROYERMEN and vice versa. The plot does not advance very far in Firestorm (similar to some of those middle WOT books) and I almost feel like it could be skipped. Anything significant that happens will probably be recapped in the next installment, since that’s been Anderson’s habit from the beginning. However, if you just love spending time with Anderson’s amiable characters (and they are great characters), you’ll probably enjoy Firestorm more than I did.
I’m reading the DESTROYERMEN series in audio format. They’re produced by Tantor Audio and read by William Dufris. Dufris is usually a great narrator, and he is here, too, but his voices for the Lemurians can get annoying, especially in this book, since they do a lot of the talking. I wonder: if Dufris had realized that the Lemurians would be talking so much in future installments, would he have given them those voices in the beginning? Probably not.