John Schettler’s Kirov Series is Resurgent
2019 opened with a bang for Kirov Series fans. The Alternate history of WWII concluded in December of 2018, and Fedorov and Karpov used their arcane airship, Tunguska,
to go home to the year 2021. There they arrived on the eve of the live fire exercises that first sent Kirov into the 1940’s, in effect, they arrived home just one day before the opening of book
1 in the series, Kirov. It has all described a great loop in time, and now the story presents us with the tale of what would have happened to the ship and crew if they had not shifted to the
past in that accident with the submarine Orel.
What happens is World War Three!
Beginning with Homecoming, the first book in “The Next War” segment of this long
saga, Kirov and crew surge into WWIII, with the story entirely devoted to a depiction of the Air/Sea modern conventional warfare that we got glimpses of in Season 1. Gotta love it!
While he has so many strengths as a writer, great characters, excellent narration, riveting dialog, and the ability to wax into near poetic heights when he really wants to paint a descriptive word picture, my favorite novels in the series always ended up being those where there was a lot of naval action. Here we get that from stem to stern. The war starts in the Norwegian Sea this time, right after the live fire exercises conclude, where Fedorov and Karpov take over on the ship in place of their local selves, and cleverly find a way to avoid the submarine Orel.
For a moment it appears as if that sub is again going to blow up. A nuclear tipped torpedo is jammed in one of the tubes as it was in book 1, but this time Fedorov charts a course to give Orel a wide
berth, and the ship stays put. Hours later, WWIII begins with a strange incident where the British sub Ambush receives an order to fire on the mighty Kirov, and that starts the roller
coaster ride into the next great conflict, which soon expands to warfighting all across the globe.
It’s a war the author hopes will never be fought, but one he presents with
gripping detail as it slowly spreads from one theater to another. By the release of Resurgent, volume IV of the conventional war, we’ve been treated to great naval/air action in the Norwegian
Sea, Denmark Strait, the Black Sea, Gulf of Mexico, Mediterranean Sea, Arabian Sea, Persian Gulf, Pacific Theater and now in the Indian Ocean. All the modern day ships, planes, and missiles collide
in these sea battles, with the events happening in the land war forming the background noise of this tale. While the author says he will eventually give us a volume covering the land war in
Europe, because Brigadiers Kinlan and Berg are both there with their story arcs to be resolved, thus far the main thrust of the opening four books has been all naval action, and the struggle to
control the airspace over those troubled seas.
As this fourth volume opens, we return to the action in the Indian Ocean, where Argos Fire has been trying to get the tanker Princess Royal to safe waters, a mission complicated by other duties imposed by the Crown, and the presence of Chinese surface raiders. Captain MacRae’s intrepid ship has now teamed up with other NATO assets in those waters, including LDH-3, Kearsarge, a US Wasp Class Amphibious ship that the Marines have made into a “Lightning Carrier.” Along the way we learn a ton about the weapons of war the world’s nations might bring to a near term conflict like this, and it’s a real eye opener.
Thus far we have seen just how good the Chinese Navy is, especially relative to Taiwan, which had a very rough time when China first entered the war in the Pacific. We’ve also seen that the heart of all US naval operations for the last 80 years, the Carrier Strike Group, is not the invulnerable force it has been throughout those decades. Yet in this blow by blow action, we learn just what it really might take in terms of weapons thrown to actually prevail against a strong enemy task force, and this is starkly contrasted with the numbers of missiles actually in inventory on all sides in this war. LRASM? It’s there, but in very small numbers in 2021. Standard Missile-6? The Navy bought just 625 of them.
You may be shocked, as are the US naval leaders depicted in these battles, to see just how unprepared the United States actually is to face a peer adversary in a major naval war. Here, at the dawn of the hypersonic missile age, the US destroyers are still hauling the venerable Harpoon missile into combat, a weapon dating to the late 1970’s, and they are lucky to have even that to get after an enemy ship at sea. The entire US Navy was built around those big aircraft carriers, with the emphasis being projecting naval air power ashore against third rate military powers. This time it’s “pick on someone your own size,” and that’s what the “Eurasian Alliance” becomes in this tale, a fusion of Russian and Chinese military might on land and sea. While Russia’s navy is much smaller than the old Soviet fleets, it remains a powerful sword at sea, and was built with one thought in mind—kill carriers. And leading that navy, on two fronts, is Vladimir Karpov. His experience with naval combat shines again, and he quickly rises higher in the ranks, Russia’s premier war fighter when they most need one.
While the main characters in the Kirov Series have always been the Russians, we see the war from the perspective of every major country involved, getting inside the heads of Captains and Admirals of every stripe. In Resurgent, the action follows Argos Fire through the Indian Ocean and into the South Shina Sea, where they tangle with the Chinese over the many island reef outposts China has built in the years before the war. As that action begins, we learn what Beijing’s real strategy is concerning Taiwan. With Karpov and Kirov now in the Pacific near his new base at Petropavlovsk, Kamchatka, the Russians get pulled into the Pacific war, with one of two major actions led by the newly crowned Admiral in this volume.
The US Navy is back in force, braving the last of China’s deadly DF-21D ship killers, and refusing to back off from the missions they must now undertake. Resurgent, and showing jut what these carriers can and cannot do, they get some very effective help from the USMC, the so called “Gator Navy” which rides high in the Pacific. The US now prepares to take the fight to the Chinese Navy in earnest, as Karpov makes his first intervention on the northern flank.
The importance of US bases in the Philippines, at Clark and Subic Bay, is well noted when the fighting escalates in the south China Sea. The officers on Argos Fire call that China’s “Gulf of Mexico,” while Karpov calls it their “Sea of Okhotsk.” By any name, its importance to Chinese naval strategy is paramount, and they will spare no effort to defend those waters. In this volume, the Pacific War greatly expands, with action in both the South and East China Seas, and then in the Yellow Sea, where China begins to rattle swords near the Korean Peninsula. Yes, the war that never really ended there now threatens to ignite again in what will likely become the great land battle action of the Pacific Theater in this series. Hold on to your hats!
All in all, these four volumes, Homecoming, Kill-Chain, Twilight’s End, and now Resurgent have been a refreshing return to the very heart and soul of the series as a whole. If you were an avid Kirov Series fan, and jumped ship like Orlov somewhere in the middle of World War Two, you simply must not miss this final segment of the tale. It’s everything the story was at the beginning, and more. By the end of this volume, Fedorov gets his hand on the neck of the real culprit moving all these events, as we get ready for that mid-season “twist” that the author often inserts. Good Gawd… I’ve read every last one of these, and I still want more.
Well here comes the next one. The entire story is now
Resurgent, and look for that volume to go on sale between May 7-10, depending on how long it take Amazon to process the files. Then we’re
told the next volume should follow soon after, ready by July so we can celebrate the 4th with a bang.
Out now: Kirov Series: The Next War
Vol 1 Homecoming
Vol 2 Kill
Vol 3 Twilight’s End
Vol 4 Resurgent
More to come!