Top positive review
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5 stars - I think?
on 4 July 2012
Unlike some of the earlier books, this one is action packed - too much in fact. Iron Gray Sea is certainly a good read - well-written action, nicely paced, and we see a bit of each of our favourite characters. But this book, while the same length as its predecessors feels unfulfilling. The reason is that the Grand Alliance has 7 separate major plot threads, a few of which have many smaller branches. And of course, the Grik have a couple as well. If we count even the small ones, I think there are 17 distinct threads. A lot is going on, and the increasing cast is scattered across the known world. There are many battles and conflicts, but only O-Reddy and walker get a truly significant chunk to themselves. Of course, this is supposedly our main thread but many of our favourite characters aren't on Walker any more. For example, all we see of 'Major' Chack (his promotion to Colonel in the previous book is ignored) is his being ordered off of USS Walker to fly to Manila to put together a commando Marine unit. I'm not counting that as even a minor plot thread, because we don't hear about him at all except at the end when we get a line telling his efforts are coming along but not as fast as hoped. Of course, we're probably going to see a lot of him inthe next book but not following a character who has been central to the series since its beginning leaves an empty hole in the book. Others, like Laney and Garett, get even less.
The only characters followed as actual characters (rather than people through which we see epic battles and dramatic events) are Captain Reddy and Sandra Tucker.
This book remedies all the previous complaints about not enough action. But in this book its so full that several of the scenes feel skipped over or rushed. This leaves you feeling unstatisfied when you reach the end. If Anderson is going to have this much going on he needs to expand the length of the book by about 50%. The current length doesn't do his plot justice even though it only advances the timline by three months!
The epilogue is something of a humdinger with some elements I certainly like, and one I think could complicate the series catastrophically.
The above seems overwhelmingly negative, but note the 5 stars. My chief complaint is that while previous books left you wanting more and with an elemtent of suspense, they nevertheless felt like complete books. This one doesn't. It feels like Taylor Anderson was writing away and suddenly notioved he'd exceeded his target word count, stopped, chopped out a several middle scenes and then tidied up the plot threads to give it an ending. However, his characters are getting more fleshed out and complex, his writing style is improving and a few characters of uncertain motives have been added to the mix. And, as always, he writes brilliant battle scenes - even if there are too many of them to fit comfortably. Overall, its a very good read and if you're following the series then certainly continue.