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ABOUT Rhinelander

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Kirov Series, Volume 40 

The final volume of the Alternate History of WWII is here, wrapping up all the last major battles of the West, but while it stands as the Season 5 finale, the series is far from over. Fedorov’s planned shift to 2021 is squeezed in at the very end of this volume. Though it doesn’t get much screen time, it opens the  door to what is coming next as the Kirov Series now returns to its roots.

The many loyal readers that formed the “crew” of this ship in its early volumes of Season 1 will soon be delighted to see that all the remaining books in the series will be “Kirov-centric,” focused primarily on the ship and crew. With them we will see the arrival of Ivan Gromyko and Kazan, Argos Fire and the  Fairchild Group, and even Brigadiers Kinlan and Berg take roles to face the threat of a new deadly war emerging in 2021.

We caught the first glimpse of that war in Season 1 of the series, as the Chinese and Japanese jousted over tiny islands in the South China Sea, and flashpoints flared up like uncontrollable fires in all the world’s great oil production centers. Soon Karpov, Fedorov, Volsky and all the rest will find themselves in that crucible, with these coming books sealing the fate of every major character in this long and saga. But first, our heroes must fulfill their mission, and find a way to prevent the ship from displacing in time during the unexpected accident aboard the submarine Orel. That will be more difficult than they realize.

All that is yet to come, but before we get there, this volume presents non-stop WWII action as the Allies fight their way to the Rhine, and through the last great counteroffensive of the Panzerwaffe, code named Operation Rhinelander. We have stood at the shoulder of Eisenhower, with Patton, Bradley, O’Connor and Montgomery as they planned their crusade into Europe, and listened at the map tables with Rommel, Manstein, von Rundstedt and Guderian. Now both sides struggle in these last desperate battles on the German frontier.

Patton pushes to the German border and the eaves of the dread Hurtgen Forest in a dual offensive thrust to get things started. Here he is tasked with two objectives: seizing the great dams on the upper Roer so the Germans cannot flood that river, and also penetrating the vaunted Westwall, with Aachen as a key objective. That action sees fighting all along the front, but it is soon rudely interrupted when Guderian finally wins the argument at OKW and launches Operation Rhinelander.

This next battle is the German “Bulge” offensive completely reworked by the Generals, and it becomes a much different animal. To begin with, it is not launched from deep within the Ardennes, but from two points very close to the Meuse River. In the real history, von Rundstedt put forward his own suggested “Plan Martin” as an alternative to Hitler’s attack, and that forms the basis of what happens here. There will be no deep and distant objective like Antwerp, for the Allies have already abandoned that port in favor of Rotterdam and Amsterdam, so there is nothing to be gained for the Germans in trying to take it back. Instead, the Generals concoct a classic German pincer operation, striking along the line of the Meuse from the Roermond area in the north, and the Liege area in the south. Their intention is to close the pincers at Maastricht and trap 3rd Army, and there sits Eisenhower and all his Lieutenants at Patton’s Headquarters “Lucky Forward.” Soon they will hear the growl of the German tanks.

That big German counteroffensive occupies the middle segment of this volume, and after its conclusion, the final battles of the War in the West all play out here. The historical Operations Grenade, Queen, Lumberjack and others come to life here, with some under new code names. O’Connor devises a big operation Nordland to cut off and capture Arnhem, and try to flank the stalwart German defense at the Emmerich Bridgehead. In the meantime, a new 9th Army under General Simpson joins Patton as the northern pincer in Operation Clipper, the attempt to cross the Roer and push on up to the mighty Rhine.

This volume concludes with the last great offensive by the Allies in the West, the combined Operation Plunder and Varsity to leap across the Rhine once again, only this time on the broad front that Eisenhower always wanted. There isn’t enough space here to get to every battle in the closing months of the war, so after we learn what happened in the east with Sergei Kirov’s battle against the Orenburg Federation, other events on the east front are reported as news received by the Generals as they fight these final battles in the West.

We’re Going Home....

The Author said he wanted to wrap up the alternate history here, and he is now eager to get back to books primarily focused on the major characters. So the opener of the final season of this incredible series will be appropriately titled Homecoming. That will be welcome news to those series fans who were mainly interested in the core characters and their fates. In the volumes ahead, all the loose ends of the story will be, as the author puts it, “gathered into one fist.”

“We’re going to start with Karpov and Fedorov as they struggle to prevent the ship from ever shifting back,” says John. “At the same time, I will take you to Karpov, the younger, in the Pacific where he re-mounts Rod-25 to execute a return shift with that version of the mighty Kirov. With Fedorov and Karpov already worried about the dangers of co-location, and only safe aboard Tunguska, this return shift by Kirov from the Pacific is fraught with danger, but it has to be resolved. Argos Fire also makes their attempt to return, as does Ivan Gromyko on Kazan. Each, in turn, will make their appearance in the world of 2021, as WWIII begins to unfold. The final fate of all the main characters will be decided in that war, so expect a lot of fast paced naval action, only this time, with modern weapons of our time. Even Admiral Kita and the crew from Takami will make their appearance in the volumes ahead, so everything gets resolved.”

Will you be sad to leave WWII behind? This was an obvious question for John as he concludes this long alternate history. “Well,” he said, “I promised to take the series to the end of the war, and I do that here in Rhinelander. Yes, it was an intense time, researching, simulating, and writing up all the major battles of this history, and I will miss that. While there is still a tight cadre of loyal readers with me all this time, I have to confess that many, like Orlov, have jumped ship. Some just wanted to walk the deck of the ship that brought us all here, so it is only fitting that the series takes us back where it began. Season 6 will therefore be much like Season 1, all centered on Kirov and the main characters, with lots of naval action, and more than one surprise in store for series fans. I hope all the errant crew members will come back and see how it all ends. As it will be the final season for this long saga. To all of them I say now... Fedorov is looking for you!”

Will it be a full season?
“I will take it through as many volumes as needed to resolve the fates of all the main characters. If that takes eight books, so be it, but the story will end when all those things have been resolved. It could take four books, or a full eight volume season.”

Will we also learn the fate of characters like Admiral Tovey, Alan Turing and others from WWII? That was an obvious last question, and the answer was a resounding yes. Both Tovey and Turing will join the story line ahead, and even some of the odd threads like the commandos that were out hunting for Orlov will be resolved, and the fate of the British Sergeant who followed the Barbary Ape through that tunnel under Gibraltar. It’s all about to play out in a series of books that form the grand finale of the entire series, but in the meantime, don’t miss out of all the action here in Rhinelander!

See you in Season 6!

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Kirov Saga: 40
Rhinelander

By
John Schettler

Part I – Logistics
Part II – Gladiators
Part III – Prelude to Disaster
Part IV – Rhinelander
Part V – Buying Time
Part VI – Better Late Than Never
Part VII – Nordland
Part VIII– Uppercut
Part IX – Across the Roer
Part X – East Wind
Part XI – Plunder
Part XII – Downfall

Afterword: Homecoming
   
324 Pages, 36 Chapters, about 102,000 words.
Kindle Version: $4.99 ~ Quality Trade Paperback: $19.99

MAPS:

The Opening Action

Rhineland area Map 1

Rhineland Area Map 2

Maps of France: 100K or 1km per hex

Maps of Belgium: 100k or 1km per hex

 

The Kirov Series:

Buy For Kindle

NOTE: Printed versions of the Kirov series are available and will also display on Amazon when you click the “For Kindle” link.

You can easily follow the action by using the maps  links above to the excellent Perry Castaneda Map collection. There you can download a map of the area under discussion, and identify all the key towns mentioned in the narrative. These are the same maps I use to create the simulation design to test and resolve the actual outcome of these battles.

NOTE: Due to the transition now underway with CreateSpace being absorbed by Amazon, the print version of Rhinelander may be slightly delayed, but will be announced for those that have been collecting these books as 1st edition treasures.

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