Here comes the next volume of the long running Kirov Series, and right on schedule, only it has been retitled Dragonfall. The title it
releases, 1944, will instead become volume 36, and largely because this action packed book needed all its chapters to finish off 1943.
We begin with a welcome return to the
battlecruiser Kirov. With the Siberian off with Fedorov aboard Tunguska on their mission to get after Tyrenkov, the younger Karpov has taken command of our favorite ship, and his restless
energy soon leads to battle. Eager to get the war moving against the Japanese, he decides to first clear up a logistical problem he had in supplying Petropavlovsk, the major port on the
southeast coast of Kamchatka, taken earlier in the war. It can only be supplied by landing on the west coast, and hauling supplies over the rugged terrain of Kamchatka, so Karpov wants to
open a sea lane through the 1st Kurile Strait.
The problem thee is the de-facto Japanese occupation of Shumushu and Paramushiro, two islands just off the southern tip of Kamchatka.
Artillery, air units and naval units make any convoy through that strait a near suicide mission, and Karpov sees the only solution—assault and occupy those islands to clear the sea
lane. This sets up the opening three chapters, as the mighty Kirov leads the Siberian offensive to accomplish this task.
Part II then takes up to the US strategy in the south
Pacific. MacArthur wants Tulagi, but Nimitz wants to continue into the Marshalls. They will both get what they want, for the US finds itself strong enough to mount both offensives
simultaneously. Yet the Combined Fleet has also reached its high water mark. Admiral Kita pledges his 21st century task force to serve Yamamoto’s needs, and they plan to go gunning
for the US carriers. Enter Vladimir Karpov, and Kirov is back again by Part III, aptly entitled “Ambush.” Those next three chapters again bring Kirov and Kazan into direct
confrontation with Admiral Kita and company, and the missiles and fireworks fly
The next nine chapters take us to the East Front, for the onset of the Soviet Winter offensive. It
has to major aims this time around, the capture of Kharkov in the south, and then the isolation of all German forces stubbornly defending at Moscow. Sergei Kirov wants his cities back. In
all this action, we now see what the Soviet army has become capable of, and how the German situation grows ever more desperate in the East. The fortunes of some German Generals falter and
fail, while others rise to take their place in the intense fighting that characterizes these nine chapters.
Part VII, “All Hallows Eve” then takes us to Southern
France to relate what the Allies are doing there in their last big offensive of 1943. Beginning in late October, the action rages into late November with drives by Patton, Clark,
O’Connor, and Montgomery all complicating Rommel’s defense, which struggles desperately to hold back the Allied surge. The action finally shocks Hitler into seeing the gravity
of the threat now posed by the US and British forces in France.
After this brief three chapter roundup on action in the West, we then return to the Pacific. The title of this
volume is derived from this action, for a full 16 of the 36 chapters in the book deal with battles in the Pacific, and Kirov is right in the middle of things. Yamamoto throws the
Kido-Butai at the US Navy, intending to counterattack through the Solomon Sea towards Tulagi, which is Bull Halsey’s watch. At the same time, Nagumo sets out to see if he can stop
Nimitz in the Marshalls, which is soon seen as the more immediate threat by Yamamoto. He decides to reinforce Nagumo at the expense of Hara’s operation in the Solomons, and two big
carrier actions result as the resurgent Kido-Butai meets the ever strengthening power of the US fast carrier task forces under Spruance, Mitscher, Fletcher and Ziggy Sprague.
won’t tell you which dragon gets slain, but its right in line with all the great Pacific battles we’ve see thus far. After this segment concludes in Chapter 31, the book the
reserves the last five chapters for Fedorov and the Siberian Karpov’s mission against Tyrenkov, which has taken a strange twist when the airship arrives just hours before the event
it is named after. This segment takes up right where it left off at the conclusion of Event Horizon, and drives that plot line forward, with all its many ramifications and consequences
involving the viability of the altered states we have been living in for so long.
Ending with a recap of all the great action of 1943, this volume concludes on New
Year’s Eve of that year, and we are now poised to enter the decisive year that will entitle the next volume, 1944. This compelling and detailed alternate history of the war drives
faithfully on, and now we’re entering territory that will feature some of the most colorful and interesting battles of the war. The Allies are still planning a cross channel attack.
The heavy bombers may lead off a major breakout operation in France akin to Operation Cobra. There may be a big airborne operation like Market Garden in the offing. The US may blunder
into the nightmare that was Hurtgen Forest. Hitler will most certainly risk everything in one more counterattack like the Battel of the Bulge. The U.S. will surely go for the Marianas at
Saipan and Tinian soon, even while MacArthur hastens to invade New Georgia so he can break the Bismarck Barrier and be in a position to return to his cherished Philippines. And oh yes,
Georgie Zhukov will have his mind set on crossing the Dnieper.
I’ll be there!
Don’t miss Dragonfall, available for Kindle and Trade Paperback by Feb 1, 2018