Roc, 2009, 400 pages
Lieutenant Commander Matthew Reddy, along with the men and women of the U.S.S. Walker, are once again at war. Having sided with the peaceful Lemurians against the savage, reptilian Grik, they now find themselves scrambling to prepare for the attack that is sure to come, searching for resources to support their forces - even as they look for allies to join their struggle.
Meanwhile, the Japanese juggernaut Amagi, also trapped in this strange world, is under Grik control---with her fanatical commander approaching madness. And soon they will have amassed a force that no amount of firepower and technology will be able to stop.As the raging conflict approaches, Reddy, his crew, his allies, and his loved ones face annihilation. But if there is one thing they have learned about their new world, it is that hope - and help - may be just over the horizon.
There are a lot of series about soldiers from some period of Earth's history winding up back in the past, or another planet, or an alternate Earth. Maelstrom is the third book in the Destroyermen series, in which the crew of the World War I-era destroyer USS Walker (later joined by another destroyer, and in this book, a submarine) is chased into another world by a Japanese battlecruiser. It stands out as one of the most popular in the genre, and I enjoyed the third book very much. However, even though it was supposedly the end of a "trilogy," the saga has not even reached its midpoint.
The Earth on which the Walker (and her nemesis, the Amagi) finds itself is one in which humans never evolved. Instead, there are two rival species: the peaceful Lemurians, descended from lemurs, and the evil Grik, descended from the dinosaurs who also still inhabit this Earth. Naturally, the Americans ally with the Lemurians and the Japanese ally with the Grik.
In the first two books, the Grik were a little too Always Chaotic Evil. Most of their race is basically mindless, and the intelligent ones are just evil rapacious tyrants who slaughter their own kind almost as readily as they slaughter their enemies. In this book, the Grik become ever-so-slightly more three-dimensional, or at least, we learn that being Chaotic Evil marauders who eat other sentients isn't necessarily hardwired into their genes. But they're still pretty much an orcish horde.
The Japanese, at least, are somewhat more sympathetic, as it's only the Amagi's commander who's a blindly murderous madman. The rest of his crew just follow orders, except for a couple who manage to break with tradition, recognizing that allying with the Grik is probably not something His Imperial Majesty would approve of.
There are a lot of naval battles, involving swarms of Grik ships, old coal-stack destroyers vs. a Japanese battlecruiser, and the discovery of another lost civilization. A whole lot of threads left dangling, and while the book ends with the Grik temporarily beaten back, nothing has really been resolved. In fact, none of the conflicts that started with the first book have really been resolved.
So this is good episodic entertainment, but given the number of books the series is already up to, I am not expecting the next few volumes to bring about any radical game-changing plot twists, however many new civilizations and military vessels may wander their way into the story. 8/10.
Also by Taylor Anderson: My reviews of Into the Storm and Crusade.
My complete list of book reviews.