fans stand ready—Volume 22 is primed to hit Amazon on schedule, just in time for your New Year’s celebration. As with other novels in Season 3, it presents a lot of action on three fronts, covering the period February through April of 1942. Beginning just where Knight’s Move left off, we are returned to the hunt for Kaiser Wilhelm and Goeben as they attempt to reach friendly ports with their hidden cargo, a situation amplified in importance because of the unusual and amazing twist the author threw at us in Knight’s
Move, where the Germans encounter a derelict and abandoned ship in the deep south Atlantic, with hidden cargo of unmeasured worth.
It was another great spin on the basic theme that underlies the entire series—that the fabric of time itself has become fragile and breakable, particularly in situations where large explosive events or nuclear devices are involved. Time is starting to fracture, and the fissures that develop can run like cracks in a broken mirror, spanning decades. This has caused men and material encountering these fractures to slip in time, mostly falling backwards from the future to the past, and reaching the tortuous web of the 1940s where WWII is being waged. But sometimes things move forward as well, like Kaiser Wilhelm’s brief encounter with the US carrier Tarawa before it slipped back to 1942, pulled by time’s gravity to the place it belonged.
The nuclear accident aboard a Russian submarine at the outset of Book 1 in the series started it all, and the damage this single ship did to the continuum of time in the 1940s became so profound that there now seems to be a strange linkage between the modern era, where Kirov originated, and WWII. Things are falling backward from the future, modern ships, men, tanks, and at one point Kirov even slipped further back, as far as 1908 where the earth itself had a massive, explosive encounter with an unknown object in the Tunguska event.
Discussed and speculated on by the characters throughout the series, the effects of that event may have been the true origin of this instability in the integrity of time that has brought us this amazing story. Fragments of the thing that struck earth in that event have been collected by people, and the one found by Chief Genadi Orlov as he descended in a sub cloud car from the airship Narva while simply trying to spot a river to help the ship navigate after a storm, ended up becoming a major catalyst to subsequent adventures in Season 2. In fact, Orlov has been a major story Prime Mover from the beginning of the tale, ever since he jumped ship in Book 2, which set a long series of events in motion that eventually took us to that lonesome railway depot at Ilanskiy, brought Sergei Kirov into the story, and then led to a strange mystery involving odd Keys that has been woven into the back story throughout Seasons 2 and 3. Yes, when Orlov appears in this tale, pay attention, because the author uses that character to stir the pot of his brew in some very interesting ways.
Orlov has quietly receded of late, and in this story Kirov is also in a rest phase as the author focuses on presenting the altered history of WWII that has resulted from all these story twists. But you can be sure that none of the major Prime Movers in the story have been forgotten, and things that happen here in Turning Point will soon set up major happenings, and a very big problem for Karpov, Fedorov and the rest of the crew on our beloved Kirov.
After Knight’s Move,
we have just seen the introduction of another of those artifacts or fragments that resulted from the Tunguska Event—things Sergeant Troyak calls “Devil’s
Teardrops.” In a most clever back flip to 1908 again, the author used the personal history of one Admiral Knight to give us the story of the Japanese intervention into Siberia after
the “incident” off Oki Island that was the climax of Season 1 in the novel Armageddon. The gift that Admiral Knight received from the Mayor of Vladivostok in 1908 was
another of those strange Tunguska fragments, and then, we learn that it was quietly passed from the Admiral’s Daughter to the Captain of the U.S. destroyer named in the
Admiral’s honor at its christening, DD-633, the USS Knight.
By now series readers know one thing about this author very well, he never does anything with the story
without good reason, and everything he introduces in little scenes like this eventually plays some major role in the course of events. As it now appears that the author is committed to
taking the Kirov Series through the entire Second World War, sit back, fill that bowl with popcorn, reach for that beer, because here we go again in Turning Point. Yes,
aside from the WWII history covered here on three fronts, there is yet another major twist in the action. While it was entirely unlooked for, it is so very much in keeping with the
premise the author has been working with—that time has been fatally fractured by Tunguska, and now… things happen.
In Turning Point, after opening with the
chase put up by two other knights, those cool new British super heavy cruisers led by the frenetic Captain Sandy Sanford, we then move to the East Front with a front row seat to the
Russian Winter Counteroffensive in Part II. Then, after a segment where many of the principle historical characters muse and discuss ongoing plans and war operations, the real fun in this
novel gets started. It begins with the Japanese plan and invasion of the barrier islands of Sumatra, Timor, Bali and Java. The wave of their offensive has broken on the Rock of the East,
where Montgomery held the line at Singapore, but it is still crashing shoreward. This continuing offensive forces some difficult decisions on Churchill, and shows us, from an historical
perspective, just what a liability Singapore became for the British after Yamashita’s whirlwind campaign in Malaya.
The action in this segment takes us to Sparrow Force on
Timor, presents the naval duel in the Badung Strait and the Battle of the Java Sea, and then lurches into the invasion of the real prize in all these operations, at least for
Japan—Java. As this invasion gets underway… well, things happen. That is really all that I can say, but we get another of those amazing plot twists, and a wonderful ride that
echoes the initial fate of Kirov itself from book one. This action begins in Part V of Turning Point, aptly entitled “A Roll of Thunder,” then spans the next 18
chapters, and you won’t want to miss a single page. Finally, the last 6 chapters of the book are reserved for another of our favorite theaters and an important action in the
West—the sands of Libya and a return to the fate of the Afrika Korps and Erwin Rommel. The Germans never push to El Alamein in this alternate history, so now the British decide to
renew the offensive after getting mixed results in Operation Crusader. Operation Supercharge is the result, and it closes out the action here in six chapters of desert
All told, this one gives us action in several naval battles, the Russian Winter Counteroffensive, the Japanese invasions mentioned above and Rommel. By the time it ends,
it is late March of 1942, and both sides take a look forward at what is yet to come. As with previous novels in the series, the title Turning Point has several meanings here. See if you can figure them all out, and then hold on to your hat. We’re about to take the ride into the last two volumes of Season 3, which promises to be truly riveting given all that happens here in those unexpected, but delightful 18 chapters in the middle of the Java invasion. Yes, things happen in this story, and we are the lucky beneficiaries. It just keeps getting better and better, always fresh, yet always faithful to the themes that led us all here, now 22 novels deep in this enterprising and deeply entertaining series. I finished this with real satisfaction, and a smile. Its still mid 1942, I thought. Think of all that is yet to come!
Enjoy Turning Point this New Years, and raise a glass or two as you do for the man who brought us all these wonderful books. I’m sure he’ll certainly be raising a glass for you.
Turning Point, Available on Amazon on or before Jan 1, 2016