“You have quite a crew, Captain Reddy.”
“Yes, I do.”
If you’ve been enjoying Taylor Anderson’s DESTROYERMEN series, there’s no reason to stop now. Rising Tides (2011) is another quality installment in which we do a lot of sailing, have some fun and laughs, and barely survive some frightening events — exactly what we were expecting.
Captain Reddy and his original crew of Destroyermen, of which less than 100 survive, are different men than those who entered the storm so many months ago. They’ve been tried and tested in many ways, and it’s brought out the best in most of them, though some make deadly mistakes due to inexperience. Right now the Destroyermen are rather spread out across the unpredictable south Pacific ocean. One group is trying to free an old submarine from a volcanic island. Another is trying to recover a sunken cache of planes and ammunition from a different island. Captain Reddy himself is pursuing the traitors of New Britain who kidnapped some of Reddy’s crew who, though he doesn’t know it, are now stranded on a deserted (and very dangerous) island. It’s obvious that the Americans will have to get involved in the messy politics of the New British… but at least they might meet some women.
Though the DESTROYERMEN epic has a completely different setting and cast, its structure is very similar to Robert Jordan’s WHEEL OF TIME. There’s a large ever-expanding cast of characters who begin to split off and have their own storylines, though each separate adventure has been coordinated by Reddy to further the allies’ goals. With each book, Anderson spends time reminding us about each character — where they are, what they’re doing, and all their particular personality quirks. This gets repetitive and, like Jordan, Anderson uses some of the same phrases or in-jokes to re-introduce his characters in every book.
The repetition also slows down the plot but, generally, Anderson’s story moves faster than Jordan’s does. By the end of each book there are few major developments, but the plot has definitely advanced (not always the case with WOT) and we’ve always enjoyed spending time with some likeable characters. A few new characters are introduced in Rising Tides, including a cute talking bird whose vocabulary, because he’s hanging out with Dennis Silva, consists mostly of curse words.
Though the structure of DESTROYERMEN is very similar to WOT, the story is not — it’s unique for a fantasy novel. I’m enjoying the industrial revolution that the Americans have brought to their new world and I’m learning a bit about some interesting topics such as fuel efficiency, developing bombs and mortars, radio transmission, the dangers of target fixation, and how to raise sunken ships. The Americans still solve problems a little too easily (I think Anderson wants to give us a scare but not stress us out too much) and they’re still a bit too righteous while the bad guys are over the top, but I’m willing to forgive this because DESTROYERMEN, overall, is genuinely entertaining. And I’m pleased with Tantor Audio’s version which is read by William Dufris.