Operation Wisp D-Day +1 12th April 1943
A chaotic and disjointed day in which lady luck favours and abandons both sides.
The action starts with a nocturnal sweep by 4 IJN destroyers of Suva Bay. Two battleships and two light cruisers stand guard and they have radar sets that gives them eyes at night. As such, despite a massive Long Lance attack, the USN is able to sink the destroyer Ushio and drive her three remaining sisters away with a whiff of danger to the transports that keep unloading their troops and cargo on Lunga Point. This is where the operation starts to get disjointed as for no apparent reason the Massachusetts turns away and starts to steam for the Santa Cruz Islands, an action that will cause her Captain to suffer a court martial, a dishonourable discharge and two years in the brig. He was given specific orders to remain in place at Lunga regardless of the risk as the transports were the valuable targets and their mission paramount.
The Massachusetts BG dishing it before its untimely withdrawal.
As such three transport groups decide to also follow their cover out of Lunga but lacking radar and in the ensuing confusion they steam North East instead of South. Later in the day both the AP Fuller and the xAK West Ivis will be sunk by Bettys near Tulagi. Further disaster was averted when D3A2s were off target while attacking LSTs that had also left. Further chaos and disaster followed, this being the action that caused the Massachusett’s Captian to be jailed, when the Covering Force stumbled upon a screen of Japanese submarines that were able to sink the Nashville and hit the Massachusetts itself with one torpedo. One wondered whether the Japanese custom of seppuku should have been employed by said Captain.
A second naval engagement was fought to the West of Guadalcanal when a light surface raiding group, the light cruiser Columbia and four destroyers, stumbled across the IJN Sazanami which had also attacked Suva Sound. The Columbia was returning from an unsuccessful sweep of Munda when he radar came alive with a contact. Short work was made of the Japanese destroyer as she was heavily out gunned and out numbered.
Lady luck then once again smiled on Japanese eyes as the second escort carrier ferrying in transports, the Chenango, was hit by a Val and Kate launched torpedo. Her Wildcats, along with Martlets from the Victorious, had earlier beaten off two attack waves. Though the Chenango was still afloat she was heavily damaged and her flight deck was closed. Her fighters found refuge on the Wasp while her Avengers made safe haven at Utupua. This news was further compounded by the reports coming from the Marshall Islands were the CVE Sangamon had been heavily damaged by a submarine off Kwajalein, her AVGAS store going up in a massive sheet of flame and noise. Yet the Allies could count themselves lucky that the strikes invloving more than 100 enemy fighters and 30 bombers failed to hit either of the fleet carriers off Kirakira. Bombs, torpedoes and even aircraft in their death throes all missed the Wasp and the Victorious as both their fighter screen and aggressive manoeuvring kept both ships intact and in the fight. Better news as well from Lunga where intial probing suggested a weak Japanese defence. Orders were to be given for an all out assault on the 13th as the situation was becoming dangerous. The Covering Force had retired and the CAP was down 50 Wildcats from the CVE’s. Submarines were also making the waters around the Southern Marshalls somewhat hazardous as well. Lady Luck needed to shine tomorrow on the USMC and US Army soldiers lumbering up for the fight in hills of Lunga.
The hectic action continues apace. A solid book that picks up where A Clash of Kings left off and true to Martin’s style it is strongly steeped in violent encounters, ravishing lust and twisting, snaking plot lines. Some major players come back on the scene, Tywin Lannister for example, and others have their storylines further developed and greatly enhanced, Daenerys Targaryen. Martin does have a penchant for compicating his plots however, yet he writes in such a style that the reader can follow the twists and turns quite easily. Arya’s storyline for example had me flicking through the chapters looking specifically for those dealing with her storyline in particular.
I feel that Jon Snow’s character also takes a massive step forward in Storm of Sword part one. I read in another blog that Jon is regarded as one character that can clearly be defined as ‘good’ and this made him a somewhat unpopular character. I on the other hand was drawn to his sense of duty and honour, further compounded by Book Three part two. We also get to see his more human side as he falls for the wildling girl. Truly his star is on the rise in this third book and I do hope his is not killed off as a large number of the main characters seem to be.
As somehwhat of a spoiler for part two, I was glad that Catelyn Stark was finlly got rid off as it was a character I hated. Impulsive and manipulative there is a scene in part two where her son Robb firmly puts her in her place. More about that in the review for book two, I have roughly about 120 pages of that one left. But once again it is Tyrion Lanniester that rises above all as a ginat, depsite his stature. I think Martin has certainly hit the bullseye by making this dwarf his fulcrum of so many story plots. Sometimes odious yet sometimes easy to sympathise with. He is well aware of his role in the Lannister family yet he clearly loves his House and would certainly enjoy some positive attention or notice from his Father. Surviving on his wit and guile we see flashes of a softer, dare I say nobler side to him. He is currently in a massive pickle in Part Two but I am sure that he will wriggle his way out of the dark hole he is in!
This brings me to the one character who is developed the most and I must admit, despite being the character I liked the least in the HBO series, one that I have enjoyed being developed: Jamie Lannister. For the first time his character becomes a POV character. Martin develops him as more that the lustful, ruthless individual we see in Books 1 and 2. His crippling by the Bloody Mummers humbles him somewhat and we begin to see some of the knightly honour he possesses in his thawing attitudes to Brienne of Tarth. Though he makes it to King’s Landing and reverts to his incestuous leanings, he does stand up quick strongly to his Father. I am hopeful Jaime Lannister’s development will continue.
The plot is gradually moved on but it is quite tiresome to have ‘yet another’ twist and turn every other chapter, when is Arya’s saga going to end for example. Martin’s writing is still top notch in Book three and I am quickly coming to the point in the series when one reviewer criticised Martin for elongating his tale. I understand the series was meant to be a trilogy, and certainly Book 2 reads as the middle of a trilogy, so I eager to find out how Book 3 finishes. There are several points in Book 3 where one gets the hint of the story coming to an end only for another twist to open. Book four and Book 5 (parts one and two) will be arriving at the end of March so I will wait patiently to see how the saga evolves. So far still a thumbs up but wishing for less twists and turns.