Audiobook Review: Iron Gray Sea by Taylor Anderson

16 07 2012

Iron Gray Sea by Taylor Anderson (Destroyermen, Bk. 7)

Read by William Dufris

Tantor Audio

Length: 16 Hrs 23 Min

Genre: Military Science Fiction

Quick Thoughts: While Iron Gray Sea doesn’t provide a ton of forward progression in the overall tale, it serves well as a set up for the world, placing the pieces and moving them in the right directions. Fans of the series will find this a little frustrating, but should love the latest series of battles which are expertly crafted, and truly the bread and butter of Anderson’s work.

Grade: B

For me, some of the hardest reviews to write are those of the latest edition of multivolume SFF epics. First off, because I probably have reviews of some of the past entries written and I need to consider a fresh angle to the latest review. Yet, mostly because as a reviewer my ultimate goal is to try to tease people just enough to get them interested in checking out a book. This isn’t so hard with a fun 8 hour audiobook. People are willing to take chances on a quick fun read. Yet, for a series like Taylor Anderson’s Destroyermen, it’s a much greater commitment. So far, the seven volume series translates roughly to around 120 hours of audiobook listening. So, when I write these reviews, where do I focus? Do I try and sell the book as a series, recapping from the beginning and showing people the overall grand scope of things? Or do I just try and focus on the latest edition, knowing I am limiting the interest of this post to those who already have started the series and are wondering whether to continue? It’s tough for a book like Iron Gray Sea. Iron Gray Sea is not in any way a standalone novel, and would never hold up as a standalone read. Often within a series of books there are arcs, subsets of the overall narrative that play out in a few volumes within the overall story. Iron Gray Sea finds itself not just within the overall Destroyermen world, but solely within one of its internal arcs. It is definitely a transitional novel, and I would never consider telling anyone new to the series to pick it up from this point. So, if you are new to the Destroyermen world, I highly recommend you head over to Fantasy Literature. Kat Hooper has recently started this series and has reviewed the first few novels. If you then become lured into this world, come back here as you move onto the latter novels, and feel free to share your thoughts on the series.

In Iron Grey Sea Matthew Ready and his mixed crew of Lemurian and human sailors on the USS Walker are fresh off the battle to suppress the Dominion attempts to overthrow the Alliance newest ally, The New British Isles. While getting repaired and preparing for a huge wedding, Ready gets word that the latest threat from our world, a modern Japanese vessel has been wreaking havoc. While in the east, the Alliance begins offensive operations in Indiaa, against the Grik, where they find that their assumptions about the enemy may lead to disaster. With each volume of The Destroyermen Saga the world seems to grow and grow. Iron gray Sea is definitely a transitional piece. It continues the arc of the movement from a defensive position with the Grik to offensive operations against them, and the furthering of the storyline of their struggles against the Domination and their twisted version of Catholicism. There is still the focus of developing new technology and the developing political situations both with their Lemurian Allies and the New British Isles. Anderson manages to throw some nicely formed wrenches into the proceedings, giving a new murkiness to what many would believe to be established facts in the world. Yet, much of the political and logistical machinations of the series are put on the backburner. Iron Gray Sea at its core is about the battles. Anderson’s battles are always well drawn, massive in scale, and realistic and in Iron Gray Sea, he brings about a series of tragic defeats and Pyrrhic victories for the Alliance. This is what I loved about this book. With so many series of late, the good guys have done so many things right that all their victories are massive one sided affairs. Here, the military leadership are fallible, and make crucial mistakes, while still managing to pull off some clever tricks. There are a few subplots that Anderson has placed on the backburner, particularly the direct dealings with the Dominion and a journey to South Africa, yet, he doesn’t forget them, moving them forward just enough that you know there will be more of a focus on these later. While Iron Gray Sea doesn’t provide a ton of forward progression in the overall tale, it serves well as a set up for the world, placing the pieces and moving them in the right directions. Fans of the series will find this a little frustrating, but should love the latest series of battles which are expertly crafted, and truly the bread and butter of Anderson’s work.

William Dufris continues his narration of this series. One of the reasons that I think this series works well in audio is that there are so many characters of multiple ethnicities and even species, and Dufris has an excellent range of voices that it helps the reader by giving them the vocal cues to keep them all straight. While Dufris typically has impeccable pacing, there were a few moments where he was almost speed reading this book. Luckily, this was mostly done during some of the set up and logistical passages, so by the time you got to the battles, Dufris regained his sense of pacing and delivered the highly complex details in an even pace allowing the listeners to follow along without getting confused. The Destroyermen Series is truly one of my favorite continuing military science fiction series, and it’s made even better in audio.

Check out my reviews of past editions of this series:

Book 5: Rising Tides

Book 6: Firestorm

Check out Kat Hooper’s Reviews of Books 1 to 3 (so Far) at:

Fantasy Literature

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