The Kirov series reaches a dangerous Far Horizon....
There was a lot
going on in the last series release, Able Fire. Admiral Wu Jinlong struggled to carry out the objectives he set for himself in his ambitious Operation Sea Eagle. The daring strike east through
the Sulu Sea to Mindanao met with heavy resistance from Admiral Cook’s Enterprise Strike Group, and the arrival of Carrier Strike Group Washington as well. His attempt to strike at Guam, Yap, and Peleliu has been parried, and he soon found himself on the defensive, double teamed by the American carriers, and with Vladimir Karpov and Kirov in the mix gunning for the carrier Zhendong.
Karpov’s lightning fast Zircons strike again, and the terrible blow he delivers breaks the back of Wu Jindong’s offensive and sends him heading for the South China Sea, a broken arrow in Part III of this volume. Then, in Part IV, it’s “Objective Babylon” as we are introduced to a new character, Todd Resel, who is embedded with 1/7th Cav to riding up front with the Light Recon troops. A cluster of characters in that troop then took us into Iraq on a six chapter romp, as operation Able Fire got underway to topple the regime of Qusay Hussein. After that, the spotlight shifted south to the 1st USMC Division reinforced by the 101st Air Mobile Division, and a brigade from 1st Armored Cav. There the objectives are of another sort—control of the vast oil fields surrounding Basra, which sets up a dramatic confrontation with Beijing.
With the writing on the wall as far as their offensive operations are concerned at sea, the Chinese now begin to consolidate their remaining forces for the defense of the seas closer to home in the Pacific. Wu Jinlong is repulsed and removed from command, and Admiral Sun Wei is also given unexpected orders to bring what remains of his fleet down to Sri Lanka from Karachi, and then to the Malacca Strait. The ignominious withdrawal weighs heavily on him, but his ships are much needed in home waters. Yes, the situation is now getting that bad for China’s war, and this is further underscored when they had to send two full armies into Iran to shore up the defense in the south and preserve their interests in the lucrative oil fields there.
Then, as the last volume closed, we got a remarkable reprise on Sergei Kirov’s mission to Bayil Prison in Baku to eliminate Josef Stalin before he grew into the terrible shadow over Russia that he later became, only this time, Ivan Volkov is in the mix. In Part XI of Able Fire, he delivers a stunning blow, one so significant that as we return to Kirov again for the final three chapters, there is a haunting feeling of impending doom plaguing many of the main characters. Then comes yet another twist, when Karpov decides to see if he can find some combat in the Indian Ocean and gets it much sooner than he expected.
When Fedorov determines the ship has shifted again, the bleak world they find themselves in suddenly starts hurling fire at them. That’s where Able Fire left us hanging, as Karpov watched the demise of the cruiser Kursk. Now, in
Far Horizon, we get a long 15 chapter sojourn in that grim future, where the action stays with the ship and crew the whole time as they struggle
with an ever more dangerous defensive network that seems to be all around them.
That segment is the longest sustained time walking the deck of Kirov since the opening volumes of the series, and in that sense it is quite refreshing, and more than tense as Karpov pits his skills against the beasts that continue to hunt them.
In the middle of the book, we then return to Sun Wei’s marathon run through the Strait of Malacca, followed by a big Allied operation in the Gulf of Oman to break what remains of the “Islamic Coalition” between Pakistan and Iran. This action involves the operation to clear the Gulf of Oman and open the Strait of Hormuz, and it offers a good look at how the US might operate should that ever be necessary in our world as they take on “The Muster of Allah” in part IX.
Then, as he often does, John takes us back to Fedorov, Karpov and Kirov for another long nine chapter ending that begins to twist the rope in the impending tug of war our heroes will have against their last great nemesis—Ivan Volkov. Fedorov is suspicious when he notices something is wrong in the history of the first days of the war at sea in World War I. Both sides garner their forces and lay their plans, for the long vendetta that saw Karpov and Volkov square off so many times in the main series. That battle is far from over.
Far Horizon spends so much time aboard Kirov, that there wasn’t room to include planned segments with A-Troop in Iraq, after the
mysterious arrival of a CIA paramilitary operative, but the author assures us that story will continue in the next WWIII volume of the series. We also learn, at the very end, that the fate of Elena
Fairchild and Captain Gordon MacRae has now blossomed into a full length 36 chapter novel entitled Zulu Hour.
It stands as Volume two in the Keyholders Saga, which is the most substantial subplot penned into the Kirov Series itself, and one that carried a good deal of the mystery concerning time travel and how the Meridians they have fought on may have been tampered with even before Kirov ever set out for its live fire exercises in volume 1 of the series.
Zulu Hour would take us all into the fire of the Zulu War, and the two movies dear the hearts of so many military history fans, Zulu Dawn at the battle of Isandlwana, and Zulu,
the subsequent defense at Rorke’s Drift. Only this time, Sir Roger Ames is trying to prevent the disaster at Isandlwana while his rival Jean Michel Fortier is backing the Zulus. In the middle
of it all we get Fairchild, MacRae, and the four Argonauts they took with them for security on that fated luncheon on the back of the “Hill of the Sphinx.” That book is now reportedly
nearing completion, as John has been writing it between regular series releases. I can’t wait!
In the meantime, this volume takes us for a long, tense, and action filled look over that Far
Horizon, and you’ll love every minute. The book has just cleared final review and will probably get an early release in mid-June instead of its scheduled July 1 release date, so it’s