It’s a pretty big staple in any war series that more factions get involved as the conflict goes on. Up to this point, the Destroyermen series was in a weird place because there were no other factions. It’s not that they were there but neutral, they just did not exist. For the first few books, it seemed like the Lemurians and Grik were the only ‘people’ in this world. But that was pretty blatantly proven wrong at the end of Maelstrom. Now we know that not all of the humans who came before were slaughtered by the Grik and some of their descendants have their own New Britain. And this lets us get away from the simple ‘Lemurians good, Grik bad’ black-and-white morality since it’s no secret that human morality is all over the place.
So, there is less action in Distant Thunders. Given the massive battle at the end of the last book, it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that the protagonists need some time to recover. But while that battle was won, the war is far from over. In the meantime, we’re going to get to know the new characters from the Empire of New Britain Isles. Largely making Distant Thunders less about action and more about worldbuilding.
There is a lot that can be said about the introduction of new human characters, particularly human antagonists. First off, it removes the simple ‘kill them before they kill us’ type of conflict. Here we have antagonists that can be spoken to and (potentially) reasoned with. It opens up so many more narrative options to have villains who aren’t largely hordes of mindless, rampaging monsters. But the villains being human does not necessarily make them less wicked. Easier to understand or even relate to, perhaps, but certainly not in the right.
All this also gives us the first hint that there is more to this world than the Lemurians and Grik. Captain Reddy and his crew are clearly not the first “otherworlders” to have a profound influence on this new world. Plus, it’s interesting to see how a society like the Empire has evolved and progressed when on their own. They have been in this world for many, many years but are basically still just Great Britain. Their technology has lagged behind a bit since, again, they were on their own, but wow are they British. “Spot of tea” and all that.
Anyway, this next little story arc is still very much ongoing by the end of Distant Thunders. Pretty obvious where it is headed next but the journey there could still unfold in many different ways.