So, Storm Surge is really the point in this series where we enter full-on World War level of conflict. Despite Captain Reddy and his crew initially being alone in this new world, we keep seeing more new civilizations. And each one is inevitably dragged into the growing conflict between the Alliance and its enemies. Mainly because the villains’ ultimatums tend to be either “join us or die” or just “die”. Remember kids, being neutral only works until they start dropping bombs on you anyway.
Like any war, this one has spurred major technological developments. Both sides are working on new, better weapons for the next battle. We are rapidly approaching the point where both sides have WWII-level hardware. And the fighting doesn’t just stop while all that’s happening. All sides are working to deploy their new weapons fast and gain the upper hand before their enemies do. With the fanatical devotion of both the Dominion and the Grik, these are going to be battles to the finish. Which is something neat that can only happen in fiction. In real-world battles, no one fights to the last man. Typically, the losing side either retreats or surrenders. In small-scale skirmishes, one side might get wiped out, but a big battle never ends with a whole army dying.
As far as the quality goes, Storm Surge is as standard as the rest of this series has been. If you’re eight books in and still reading, you should know what to expect by now. I don’t think anyone is picking up this series and expecting it to be All Quiet on the Western Front level of quality. But Anderson is very good at worldbuilding. The big battle scenes are impressive, but in between, we get to see history, politics, religion, art, and everything else that makes up a culture. It makes all these different civilizations feel real instead of just a backdrop.
Honestly, sometimes I forget this series is sci-fi because of how low-key the sci-fi elements are. This very easily could have been an alternate history series with all human characters. A little harder and creepier to justify some of the villains’ behavior that way, but not impossible as the Dominion has shown us. Anyway, Destroyermen is definitely one of my guilty pleasures. I read Storm Surge for the same reason I watch Syfy Channel Original Films: because I like it. And beyond that, I can’t really explain it. But heck if it isn’t fun.