Destroyermen is an Alternate History series by Taylor Anderson. It centers around the crew of USS Walker, a World War II destroyer who are catapulted to an alternate world after a disastrous Allied defeat at Java. The new world is right out of prehistory: dinosaurs roam the lands, and the oceans are home to swarms of man-eating fish and giant reptiles. They've also gone from one war to another, for here two very different species have just started up a fight for survival again after several thousand years. On the one side are the Lemurians, (or 'Cats, as the Americans call them) lemur-like sea-goers who have lived a rather peaceful existence until now. On the other side are the Grik, savage raptor-like reptiles hell-bent on hunting the 'Cats to extinction.Walker and her crew side with the Lemurians and join the struggle against the Grik. They're outnumbered and outgunned—but that part hasn't stopped them yet.
The Destroyermen series provides examples of the following tropes:
The Alliance: The Grand Alliance of all Allied powers united beneath (or beside) the Banner of the Trees. Originally formed out of necessity by the Lemurian Homes (floating nation-states) and the "American Clan" (i.e. the destroyermen), it is later joined by land-based nations such as Baalkpan, the Fil-Pin Isles, and B'mbaado. After some time, new allies are found such as the Empire of New Britain, the Shogunate of Yokohama, the Republic of Real People, and a number of Grik-like peoples. In Storm Surge, delegates from Alliance members come together for a constitutional congress in order to lay the foundation for a single united nation.
American Accents: The destroyermen tend to be from all over the US. The audiobook's reader tries to do them justice, such as Matthew Reddy's Texas drawl. This becomes a plot point in Storm Surge when Fred Reynolds is convinced that the man who rescued him is an Imperial spy based on his British-like accent; later, the man reveals that he is descended from other Americans who crossed over during the Mexican-American War and, thus, has an accent closer to the British one.
America Saves the Day: Yup, it happens . . . in every single book...sort of. The Americans are no stranger to being Big Damn Heroes, but the 'Cats aren't exactly helpless, either. Most of the "saving" is done indirectly, too: the Americans cannot do the lion's share themselves, so they work with the 'Cats as much as lead the effort. It's also made very clear Matt and his crew wouldn't stand a chance if the 'Cats weren't helping them out, too.
An interesting case in Storm Surge, when a spy gives Fred Reynolds crucial intelligence about Dominion forces. The spy turns out to be American, descended from the crew of three US ships who crossed over in the 19th century and formed a new United States in this world.
So far, we've seen a lot of characters get buried at sea. Dowden proved that Anderson isn't messing around. Same with Nakja-Mur.
However, Taylor Anderson already confirmed certain primary characters can NOT be killed off due to plot reasons, such as Chack Sab-At or Captain Reddy. Whether or not this information is accurate remains to be seen, but it is unlikely some characters will be biting the dust.
Averted with Tony Scott, whom everyone presumes dead for about 2 years until he turns up in Storm Surge.
Played straight with Fitzhugh Gray, who throws Matthew clear when a tide of Grik is about to overrun the Walker's top deck in Deadly Shores. Also, Irwin Laumer who leads a strike force to take out the Celestial Mother only to be Impaled with Extreme Prejudice by one of her bodyguards.
Artistic License - Ships: None of the ships that cross to the alternate Earth actually fought in World War II. This was intentional: Anderson didn't want to disrespect any actual sailors who did.
As explained in the afterword to the first book, the Amagi depicted was badly damaged by an earthquake while under construction and scrapped in 1922. (There was an Amagi that served in WWII, but it was a carrier.) The real USS Walker was scuttled seventeen days after Pearl Harbor, while the Mahan was scrapped in 1931.
This continues when a more modern Japanese destroyer crosses over, the HIMS Hidoiame described as the 20th of the Kagerō class. In Real Life, there were only 19 destroyers of that class, although three ships were also listed on the roster but served as the dummy budget for Yamato-class battleships. Possibly, in this 'verse, one of these really was built as a destroyer.
Ditto for the USS S-19. In our history, the submarine was decommissioned in 1934 and sunk in 1938. In the novel 'verse, it continues its service into World War II before being transported to the Lemurian/Grik world.
In all other areas, studiously averted: Anderson is a historian by trade and does the research, and apologizes in the afterword of Into the Storm for any mistakes that may have slipped through.
This can be initially assumed about the SS Amerika, a German passenger liner converted into an armed troop transport during World War One. However, according to its crew, they fought a battle against an Entente converted transport before being swept up by a storm in the night. The Real LifeAmerika was seized by American forces and converted into a troop transport as part of the US Navy (being renamed America). It never fought a battle in the war and served well after the war's end. This is confirmed by Captain Reddy and serves as proof that the Amerika didn't come from the same world as the destroyermen. Additionally, according to the ship's crew, the United States remained neutral during the war.
A strange case with the French submarine Surcouf that briefly shows up in Deadly Shores. It fought in World War II, but this version appears to be from a world where the sub's crew "turned Vichy" instead of remaining on the side of Free France.
Attack! Attack! Attack!: At the start of the series, Zerg Rush is basically the only tactic the Grik are capable of. With the influence of Amagi's crew, they're starting to innovate.
Badass: Several but Dennis Silva takes the cake. Chack, Rolak, Tabby, and Keje are but a few of the few Cat badasses.
Being Tortured Makes You Evil: This is standard practice for the Doms called Cleansing, which involves using torture to force non-believers to turn to their "one true faith", which praises pain and suffering. Of course, the Doms themselves believe that Cleansing makes a person good. This appears to work on Ensign Fred Reynolds, captured by Dominion forces after his scout plane crashes, to the point where he doesn't care of his Lemurian co-pilot Kari-Faask lives or dies. He is even taken in by Don Hernan as the blood cardinal's protégé and is brought before their Messiah/Emperor. This turns out to be a ruse, as Fred manages to successfully keep his wits through the Cleansing while convincing everyone he has converted, while making plans to rescue Kari and run away.
Beware the Nice Ones: While it's a stretch to call Isak Reuben "nice", he's definitely a quiet one. Which makes his behavior in Deadly Shores all the more surprising when he goes utterly berserk on some Grik and even hacks the Celestial Mother to pieces before presenting her dead head to the Grik.
BFG: In Distant Thunders Silva MacGyvers a "Super Lizard Gun" (also called the Doom Whomper) out of a salvaged antiaircraft gun from ‘Amagi. It's a flintlock rifle that shoots a quarter-pound'' slug, which he built to kill the allosaur variant that is Borneo's top predator. The recoil is enough to knock him over the first (and only) time he fires it in any posture other than prone. While hunting, he makes a game of seeing how many "rhino-pigs" he can kill with one shot.
Boarding Party: Since the Grik lack any ship-to-ship weapons except for primitive catapult-launched firebombs, and the Lemurian ship-to-ship weapons are limited to ballistae, it's very common for the Grik to try to board the Lemurian Homes with warriors. In the first novel, Captain Reddy decides to capture a Grik ship in order to find out more about their enemy. The Walker's guns destroy the masts, and a boarding party made up of Reddy himself, a few Destroyermen, and a group of Lemurian marines (trained by an actual US Marine) drop a corvus (a boarding bridge of Roman design) that Reddy had the Lemurians make in order to secure the Grik ship. Unfortunately, the corvus is made from bamboo and breaks when the second party tries to follow.
The "Mice", whose oddities are offset by their competence both as boiler-room operators and as former oilrig workers.
Later, Tabby, a Lemurian female, starts working in the boiler room and not only learns fast from the original two Mice, but also adopts their odd mannerisms and Southern drawl (although her Lemurian-accented English returns when excited), to the point where she's considered a full-fledged Mouse.
Camp Cook: Ship's cook, actually, but Lanier still fits the trope in every other way. It's noted repeatedly that his "station" during combat operations is hiding in the toilet... until he calmly, without flair turns into a badass in Firestorm by emerging from belowdecks and hosing down a pterodactyl with a tommygun at face-to-face range.
The Captain: Captain Reddy. Overlaps with Majorly Awesome, given that Lieutenant Commandernote his original rank; he's addressed as Captain due to being Walker's CO is the Navy equivalent.
Cargo Cult: To a small degree. The Lemurian Sky Priests guide their giant ships using the ancient scrolls, which they don't show to anyone else. Those scrolls? They're charts given to them by a man who came over on an East Indiaman centuries ago. The sacred tongue in which the scrolls are written is Latin. Every time a Sky Priest sees a chart, he bristles that it is shown so freely.
Taken Up to Eleven when they find out that the Grik have charts of their own, in English this time.
Character Development: The Grik as a race get this. At first they are treated as a Horde of Alien Locusts whose only tactic is the Zerg Rush and who go into full panic mode if it doesn't work. Now under competitive pressure from the Alliance and with help from the Japanese they have developed an officer class capable of thinking tactically, even strategically. Also, some have learned to surrender and others seem to be developing a capacity for loyalty as opposed to instinctive blind obedience. One, a Hij general, has even developed an Odd Friendship with a Japanese general, an emotion supposedly alien to his race.
Cool Boat: The USS S-19. Against all odds, it survives a tidal wave created by an erupting volcano, although it's determined that it can never dive (voluntarily, that is) again. It's rebuilt as a torpedo boat and ends up dealing some damage to Grik ironclad ships before being sunk.
The French submarine Surcouf also qualifies, despite being a villainous variant. On the other hand, it is fairly easily sunk by the Walker after being forced to surface.
Cool Ship: USS Walker. Also, the Amagi, but in a villainous way.
Unfortunately, listing all examples would take up a lot of space.
As part of standard operating procedure in dangerous waters, Captain Reddy requires that every morning the crew of the USS Walker go to battle stations for two hours until sunrise. In our world, this is because this time is perfect for submarine sneak attacks (the subs' lower profile makes them nigh-invisible in pre-dawn darkness). Reddy maintains the procedure in the new world, as the Grik and any other enemy can pull the same stunt (minus subs).
The Holy Dominion stages a surprise attack at dawn on the capital of the Empire of New Britain, timed with a public duel and a simultaneous sneak attack on the Governor-Emperor. Naturally, both Matthew Reddy and Harvey Jenks are Genre Savvy enough to know something like this is coming and take precautions (like sending out a plane to scout out the surrounding area).
Death Seeker: The Lemurian Saak-Fas, recovered from the holds of a Grik ship, becomes this by Maelstrom. He gets his wish.
Decapitation Presentation: Isak Reuben and Lawrence do this to the Celestial Mother after Isak, of all people, kills her. However, it has the opposite effect, throwing the remaining Grik in the capital into a frenzy.
Defector from Decadence: Commander Sato Okada of the Amagi at the end of Maelstrom. Then again, if he hadn't, his insane captain would have had him executed or worse for insubordination.
While Okada refuses to join the fight at first, he later returns to formally ask membership in the Grand Alliance after a modern Japanese destroyer arrives and his new people are slaughtered by them. Okada sees how low his beloved Japanese navy has sunk, as the tide of World War II is turning.
Disproportionate Retribution: What Reddy threatens against Aryaal should they ever desecrate or tamper with the graves of his men in front of their city. To make it clear he's serious, he assures them that if they ever deface the graves, he will return and level the city to the ground.
The alternate Earth, but this is zig-zagged somewhat: it's sure as hell dangerous, with dinosaurs alive and well and of course the Grik, but it's not so horrible as to prevent organized societies.
The seas are even more dangerous than the land. In addition to its normal dangers from our world, the continental shelf is infested with "flashies" (basically piranhas IN SALTWATER!), and the deep water has "mountain fish" that can eat ships.
As if that wasn't enough for you, they're in the Pacific Rim so there's a risk of volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. Finally, the relative lack of humans burning fossil fuels means global warming hasn't happened so the weather patterns are very different, which results in hurricanes, called strakkas, that can be worse than those on Earth.
The Lemurians refers to themselves as "Mi-Anaaka" which roughly translates to "the people", which is suitable seeing that they are deemed people by the humans VERY quickly.
At the same time, they do not like to be called "ape-folk", even though they've never seen an ape. However, the first time the term was used, they picked up from the tone that the term was derogatory. The Imperials quickly learn to refer to them as Lemurians, especially after seeing them in battle.
During the climactic battle in Maelstrom, Mahan rams Amagi, then Saak-Fas ignites Mahan's magazines; the explosion cripples the battlecruiser. A well-placed HE shell from Walker coupled with a lucky break is enough to finish the thing off.
There are other examples across the series, usually involving a character destroying as much of the enemy as possible before finally being overwhelmed.
The second book opens with Grik Regent Tsalka sitting with a Grik infant on his lap, idly stroking the child. So is this a Pet the Dog moment for the Grik, earlier billed as Always Chaotic Evil? No, because before the scene is over, Tsalka casually pops the infant into his mouth and chews. For extra Squick, it's mentioned that the baby's struggles tickle the roof of Tsalka's mouth.
The Celestial Mother is also shown doing this. The Squick factor is even more evident here, as those are rejects from her own litter. The practice is stopped when it's pointed out that the "rejects" are, in fact, the Griks' best chance of survival as they lack the Attack! Attack! Attack! mentality.
The Celestial Mother, while not technically holding the title, is definitely this to the Grik. She rules with an iron claw, orders bloody executions left and right, and happily eats her own young who don't share the Grik Attack! Attack! Attack! mentality.
His Supreme Holiness, the Messiah of Mexico, and, by the Grace of God, Emperor of the World, is the religious and political ruler of the Holy Dominion. Like all the other Dominion Popes, he is kept in perpetual bliss by alcohol, drugs, food, and sex. Most spend their reign completely out of it and are unable to make any decisions. The current Pope is actually able to keep his wits about him while in this state.
The Caesar is the ruler of the Republic of Real People, and ancient (dating back at least 1000 years) human/Lemurian nation based in South Africa and periodically "infused" by new arrivals from our world who wash up at the cape. However, the Caesar is more like a benevolent despot than this trope. He's also a Lemurian.
Even Evil Has Standards: The crew of the Amagi are out to kill the Americans, and are working with the Grik. They still hate the lizards, though; even the Axe Crazy captain admits this.
However, while much of the crew hates the Grik for being despicable and evil, the captain seems to hate them for the same reason he hates Americans... they're not Japanese.
Everything Is Trying to Kill You: On land, you've got carnivorous dinosaurs and other reptiles with too many teeth, as well as Grik-like aborigines. One island has a sapient amphibian race that doesn't take kindly to intruders. Another has a kudzu-like plant that sprouts roots inside critters that get scratched by it. You're also in the Ring of Fire, so there's occasional earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. At sea, there are any number of voracious predatory fish species, mountain fish that can eat ships, and hurricanes that can be worse than those on Earth. And we haven't even gotten to the Grik and Holy Dominion yet.
The basic Grik mooks are the barely sapient Uul. If they live long enough to become intelligent they may be elevated to Hij, various castes of which do pretty much everything that requires more than a dozen brain cells.
The Lemurians had a guild system before the onset of the war with the Grik. It was thrown out the window by necessity.
Fantastic Racism: While mostly averted with the destroyermen and the Lemurians, who quickly learn to respect each other (with one glaring exception), the Imperials, at first, treat them as sub-humans and refer to them as "ape-folk". The Dominion is even worse in this respect, calling them "creatures" or "animals". The Republic treats humans and Lemurians as equals, but frowns upon Half-Human Hybrids.
Feed It a Bomb: In Deadly Shores, Isak Reuben of all people does this to a triceratops-like creature by first getting the beast's attention and then tossing a grenade down its throat and diving away as the lizard is going after him.
Finagle's Law: In Maelstrom, the Baalkpan Lemurians note that the American philosophy in this regard is to "hope for the best, but plan for the worst". During the same conversation, the Queen of B'mbaado quotes one of Murphy's Laws of Combat almost to the letter (the one that says no battle plan survives contact with the enemy).
Five-Man Band: The command crew of the Walker comes off like this.
The Chick: Sandra Tucker. After the Walker is refloated, Selass.
The Sixth Ranger: First Mallory, then when he moves on into the Catalina, Chack. Finally, we get Jenks and O'Casey.
Foregone Conclusion: The fifth book, Rising Tides, opens with a quote from a book Courtney Bradford will evidently publish in 1956. His survival for the next twelve years is therefore guaranteed, unless it gets published posthumously.
Fowl-Mouthed Parrot: The flying lizard (the alt!Earth equivalent of a parrot) that takes a liking to Silva during his wanderings in the islands of southeast Asia after escaping from Ajax. He calls it a "stupid shit" and things go downhill from there.
Genocide Dilemma: Averted. It's made clear that the only real way to win is to exterminate the Grik. Though this is zig-zagged in later books; particularly when a contingent of Grik warriors surrender to the Allies.
Giant Flyer: Dragon-like flying lizards are found on an island not far from Hawaii. They frequently harass passing ships, swooping down and grabbing crewmembers or dropping rocks on decks. It's later revealed that the Dominion has tamed a good number of them and use them as an air force of sorts.
Captain Reddy speculates that some of them have crossed into our world in the past, resulting in myths about dragons. Ditto for other creatures such as Mountain Fish.
More are found in Deadly Shores on an island near Africa. The smaller "Grik-birds" are the local aerial version of the flasher-fish, swarming in and tearing apart anything that gets close to the island, while the large flying lizards near the center of the island nest on mountains and begin to chase the PBY Nancy sent to scout the island. However, they don't attack the Nancy, as the plane happens to match the blue-and-white coloring of the lizards, initially appearing to the lizards as another of their number, albeit large and loud. Two of them begin to race the plane before spotting the Lemurian pilot and gunner.
Giving Radio to the Romans: The destroyermen give the Lemurians pretty much any piece of advanced technology they can figure out how to make, including radio.
It helps that the Lemurians get to watch and participate in the destroyermen building things from memory (or technical manuals). In fact, many humans observe that, unlike many primitive human tribes, the Lemurians don't fear the unknown and don't instinctively associate it with magic or evil spirits. For example, when the radio from the PBY is destroyed by a Japanese air raid, a few primitive spark-gap transmitters and crystal receivers (the latter don't even require power) are hastily constructed with the help of the locals. Later, batteries are built to allow for more powerful radios aboard Lemurian airplanes.
Good Colors, Evil Colors: Grik ships are painted red, while Dominion ships have red sails. Walker being the exception, Allied ships are painted black with a white stripe on the gunnery deck(s). Also the Grik are black while their more pleasant cousins the Tagranesi are orange and brown striped.
Green Rocks: Polta fruit is starting to have some shades of this, though nothing really outlandish. You can eat it straight, and you can make seep (the Lemurians' alcoholic drink of choice) with it. The paste left over from making seep is used as an antiseptic and analgesic.
Later on, the humans discover that the partially-fermented polta paste has properties similar to battery acid, allowing for portable power sources to be constructed.
Gunship Rescue: In Firestorm, the crews of a beached Allied task force is being constantly assaulted by Grik forces and are taking steady losses. They manage to retreat in square formation to a new fortification on the beach and are preparing for a final Grik rush. Then several Lemurian air wings show up and firebomb the hell out of the Grik horde, causing the typical "Grik rout". Specifically, the survivors knew the fleet was coming but thought it was days away.
Half-Human Hybrids: Very little thought it given to the possibility for most of the series, since the very idea of humans and Lemurians hooking up is deemed ridiculous, despite the "Dame Famine" and the fact that female Lemurians walk around topless. This question is put to rest at the end of Iron Gray Sea, where some are shown in the Republic.
Handicapped Badass: Sean "O'Casey" Bates. He loses a hand when their ship is destroyed by a Mountain Fish but is still able to kick plenty of ass from Baalkpan to Scapa Flow.
When he discovers an attempt to sink Walker with an improvised bomb in a rowboat, CPO Donaghey climbs into the boat and rows it away, ignoring the calls of his shipmates to come back. Instead of a fuse, the saboteurs set the whole boat on fire, so he's burning alive as he does this.
All he knew, as the flesh on his face and hands began to sear and his vision became a red, shimmering fog, was that he had to row. Nothing else in the entire world mattered anymore except for getting that crazy, stupid bomb the hell away from his ship. He made it almost forty yards.
The entire crew of the Revenge, save those too injured to actually do anything aboard ship, gives one.
‘Mahan rams Amagi'', then detonates a shitload of depth charges and blows a huge hole in the cruiser's side.
There are also a number of other, albeit brief, instances during the battles. One notable example is a lone Lemurian gunner killing herself by spiking a cannon full in order to buy her comrades time and to—of course—kill more Grik.
The second purpose for this is to prevent the Grik from getting their hands on artillery ( until they start making their own).
Hoist by His Own Petard: When Kurokawa brings out his new ironclad fleet, he is able to easily blow through The Alliance's wooden ships but takes a pounding from the refitted Salissa using the guns taken from his own Amagi.
Honor Before Reason: While Shinya has it attached to him up above, he's not a great example, being willing to not only surrender to Captain Reddy but offer his parole even in the first book. A better example is the unnamed Japanese crewman who saves Shinya's life, and refuses to surrender even in the middle of an ocean while clinging to the underside of an overturned boat, having just watched the rest of his crew being eaten by what can best be described as tuna-piranha hybrids. He gets eaten by a plesiosaur, but only cries out in pain, not terror.
Later, after Okada surrenders to the Grand Alliance, he opts to go to the Japanese islands, where there are small Lemurian settlements. There, he trains a number of Lemurians in the ways of the samurai (including females), focusing specifically on the bushido code of honor.
Hopeless War: Captain Reddy points out that the war with the Grik must not be allowed to drag on for much longer, as the Grik are rapidly closing the technological gap and are learning better tactics. If they manage to close the gap, then it becomes a war of numbers, which the Alliance simply can't win. The only way to prevent this trope is to decisively crush the Grik in the shortest amount of time possible.
Humans Are White: First justified with Shinya and Juan (Walker's Filipino steward) as the Token Minorities, then averted later. Initially the only humans known on the alternate Earth are Walker's crew, who are white because the US military wasn't desegregated until 1947 and it's only 1942. Averted after the Amagi shows up, and averted again when they meet up with the Empire, and Holy Dominion, who are mixed-race peoples of Caucasian and Central American descent and all Ambiguously Brown. Then there's the Republic, which averts it even further with people being descended from Koreans, Romans, various Africans... it's a long list. And, if whatever Samuel Anson was referring to is human, plenty of others.
The Grik kill and eat one another all the time. They don't make exceptions for other races either. In fact, they like to make their captives watch their comrades cooked and eaten before doing it to them.
In Firestorm, we're introduced to the crew of a Japanese destroyer, who are more than willing to kill and eat their Allied prisoners. Naturally, this makes not only the Americans sick, but also Shinya and Okada (who has a personal score to settle with them, as they killed his newly-adopted tribe of Lemurian samurai).
Even worse? It's based on a true story from World War II.
In Name Only: Grik-built ArataAmagi-class battleships have nothing to do with the original Amagi and are, instead derived from the basic design of the CSS Virginia, only much larger, with four stacks, and with the casemate covering only 3/4 of the ship.
Ditto for the ‘‘Azuma’’-class cruisers, whose design is modeled on the Kōtetsu, Japan's first ironclad, and has nothing in common with the Real Life cruiser Azuma.
In Spite of a Nail: There's a discrepancy as to exactly when the East India Company ships came to the alternate world, but it was at least two hundred years before the 1940s — meaning more than twenty years before, in our world, there was a settlement in California named "San Francisco." Still, the New British build a city at the same good harbor ... and name it "St. Francis." The region we'd call San Jose is also known as the St. Joseph Plain.
Interspecies Romance: What may or may not be happening with Silva and Risa... and several other Destroyermen and female Cats'.
Is halfway to My Species Doth Protest Too Much when everyone on both sides keep assuring themselves that Risa and Silva are most definitely just friends, honest.
In Firestorm, a modern (by the book's timeline) Japanese destroyer also crosses over with a crew ready to kill and eat their Allied prisoners.
Insistent Terminology: Any time the Dominion is brought up, either a character or the text will make a point of saying how it's a "dark perversion" of actual Catholicism.
Also, the Empire of New Britain doesn't enslave women. Instead, the women are under obligations that must be paid off with work.
Kangaroo Court: It's heavily implied that these are commonplace in the Empire of New Britain thanks to the Company running things.
Billingsly plans to have 70 men, including the captain of the Ajax executed for following orders he gave them by claiming they acted on their own.
Kill Him Already: Most recently with Reddy and the Head of the HNBC, where Reddy shoots him after he puts his gun down.
Kraken and Leviathan: Among the sea creatures in this world is the "mountain fish" (apparently actually a whale), so big it can wreck a steamship — by biting it. At one point, it's stated that the locals' massive city-ships known as "Homes" are almost as big as mountain fish — and a Home is the size of an Essex-class aircraft carrier. And that's the average sized mountain fish... they do come in bigger sizes. The Imperials actually call them Leviathans.
From the way they're described as moving (basking, gradually picking up speed, able to move very fast for short periods of time), mountain fish may be the descendants of "Predator X".
In Firestorm, Captain Reddy suggests that some of these creatures may have crossed over to our Earth in the past, creating myths of said creatures. He comes up with the idea after finding out from Jenks about the existence of clever dragon-like creatures. This completely kills Bradford's theory about metal content being a requirement for crossing over.
Medieval Stasis: The Grik and Lemurians were in stasis for centuries. Due to a stratified guild system, the last time the Lemurians advanced much technologically was to escape the Grik by developing sea travel. The Grik meanwhile are technological locusts that don't innovate on their own, but are very good at reverse-engineering stuff. Somewhat less so with the island Lemurians who were entering the Iron Age when the Walker appeared, while the seagoing Lemurians were still in the Bronze. It's only the arrival of humans that enables either side to break the stasis.
However, just 2 years after the arrival of the Walker, the Lemurians are making near-identical copies of the ship. That's a huge leap.
The American crews come over as this with first the Lemurians, and later the Imperials who've mostly been stuck in an early 19th century civilization since their own arrival with Reddy and others wasting no opportunity to point out how inferior their technology and ways of doing things is compared to theirs.
To further reinforce the trope, the Imperials are Ambiguously Brown, as their original British crews have intermixed with Mayincatec women from the Dominion.
Even the other Americans discovered in Storm Surge are all brown thanks to intermixing with Dominion women.
Misguided Torpedo: In Storm Surge, the Walker and the Mahan make a full-speed torpedo run at Kurokawa's Grik-built battleships despite the guy who made the torpedoes warning Reddy that they tend to be unpredictable at high speeds. The run is successful... until one of Walker's torpedoes guts Mahan.
Justified, since American torpedoes during World War II were notoriously unreliable, and there is only so much one can do on a world where no one else knows how to make torpedoes.
Averted with the French torpedoes used by the submarine Surcouf during their torpedo run on the fleet.
Mooks: The Uul, the barely sapient Grik foot soldiers with red-painted ships.
Standard Dominion soldiers. Unlike the Grik, they don't rout or retreat, no matter what. Being religious fanatics (and the very real fear of painful punishment) keeps them in line.
The Multiverse: In Deadly Shores, Courtney Bradford reveals his theory on the nature of the mysterious squalls coupled with the existence of the Republic of Real People, composed of descendants of various arrivals whose histories differ from both ours and each other’s . He proposes that the Lemurian/Grik world acts as a sort of "dumping ground" for a multitude of other parallel worlds. The most recent arrivals, the German crew and British prisoners of the SS Amerika (a German transport converted into a warship during World War One) claim to have fought a battle with another converted transport before being swept up by a storm. Reddy explains that, according to the history he studied, the SS Amerika didn't fight during that war and was converted into a troop transport under an American flag (and it didn't disappear). Most of Courtney's audience leaves halfway through his presentation, being utterly confused. Others who understand are still having trouble grasping the idea of an infinite number of universes, despite the fact that there are clearly at least two parallel worlds.
The attack on the fleet by the French submarine Surcouf, which was in our history controlled by the Free French but appears to be under the control of the Vichy France further supports Courtney's theory.
Names to Run Away From Really Fast: The Grik call the Indian Ocean "the Terrible Sea". Given the presence of humongous mountain-fish (which itself fits this trope), they dare not go through it, preferring to navigate closer to the African coast. The stated statistic is that no more than 1 in 20 ships make it through the ocean.
Negative Space Wedgie: The Squall. As of Distant Thunders, Courtney Bradford's latest theory on it is that frequency of passage to the alternate Earth is directly proportional to ships' metal content. By Deadly Shores, his theory has evolved into believing in the existence of The Multiverse, where their current world acts as a sort-of radio receiver for others.
Noble Demon: Commander Sato of Amagi. He despises the Grik, and believes negotiating with the Americans is a viable option...but this is more due to Amagi's captain being a complete lunatic than anything else.
Dennis Silva may be a drinking, swearing, pranking, fighting giant of a man, but he's smarter than he lets on. He quickly realizes that Becky isn't who she claims to be about the same time as The Captain.
Billingsley's Number Two Linus Truelove is the same way. Both Silva and Truelove know the other is hiding his true nature.
Ocean Punk: Pretty much the entire setting. It's a sailor's wet dream. You have vessels from both world wars, 19th-century vessels of the New British Empire, as well as a few for the Alliance, and 17th-century warships used by the Grik - armed with catapults. Two of the weirder examples are Spanish galleons with paddle wheels strapped to the sides of their ships and giant wooden aircraft carriers powered by steam that are also home to Cats.
Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Courtney Bradford, though he's a far more realistic instance of this trope: originally working for Royal Dutch Shell as a geologist, Bradford (who calls himself a "naturalist") has a wealth of knowledge of prehistoric flora and fauna, as well as the sites of oil reserves in the East Indies. He's not really an expert in anything, though; as he puts it, "I know a little about a lot."
Person as Verb: More like "Place as Verb": A salvage operation in Distant Thunders and Rising Tides is overlooked by a volcano on a nearby island that's starting to act up. The people worry that it might be about to "pull a Krakatoa". It does.
It's also pointed out that the statement is invalid in this world, as this world's Krakatoa has never blown its top.
Averted. The entire crew of the USS Walker is shown to be at least mildly racist, from an incidental Values Dissonance standpoint if not actively. Many of them are very open-minded for the forties, but terms like "Jappo" and "Nip" fly freely.
The USS Walker's crew is portrayed as this. Captain Reddy notes at the beginning of Into the Storm that the entirety of the Asiatic fleet had this reputation.
The end of Iron Gray Sea reveals a whole nation of these, made up of Lemurian refugees from the time of the Exodus and various humans who have crossed over in the Atlantic since then. It's not clear how old the Republic is, but Romans arrived there in the 10th century to join others who settled South Africa. The latest arrivals are a World War I-era German ship full of British PoWs.
Reasonable Authority Figure: Many Lemurian chiefs, as well as Governor-Emperor Gerald McDonald of the Empire of New Britain. The end of Book 7 also introduces a Lemurian with a title of Caesar, the benevolent despot of the Republic of Real People.
Reptiles Are Abhorrent: The Grik... who are described as fuzzy raptors. This gets subverted, though. By Firestorm some other, Griklike races have been found that prove to be valuable allies. They're still somewhat distrusted for their appearance, but they're still good friends to have.
The Republic: The Republic of Real People is discovered in South Africa at the end of Iron Gray Sea by a Japanese officer. It's a Roman-style republic ruled by a benevolent despot (a Lemurian to boot) known as the Caesar. It is also quite advanced, up to World War One standards.
Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: How do General Pete Alden and Lord Muln-Rolak respond to the offer of a Grik general to join the Grand Alliance in their "hunt" and then casually mentioning eating another tribe of Grik? By slaughtering every Grik in sight except for a civilian Grik who is taken prisoner.
Rousing Speech: Despite his protestations to the contrary, Reddy is actually very good at these, as well as pretty much any other kind of rousing/threatening/comforting speech you could ask for.
The Orphan Queen of B'mbaado. Not only a fierce and capable warrior in her own right, but when she says something like "I will be the last of my people to leave" or "I will not stop until I've brought everyone home," she means it. She has ended up behind enemy lines, and has personally lead her army to battle on a number of occasions.
On one occasion, Chairman Adar (the leader of the Grand Alliance) orders her to evacuate aboard a plane. Her reply is brilliant in its refusal: while General Safir Maraan would happily follow Chairman Adar's suggestion, Queen Safir Maraan will not abandon her forces.
Lord Rolak, while not technically a king, qualifies as he is very much the last remaining royalty "figure" for Aryaal itself and, is a Colonel Badass, despite technically being a general.
Lord Koratin counts as well. At first, he's just a scheming Aryaal courtier. Later, he joins the Alliance marines and proves himself extremely capable. In fact, when later offered command over his own regiment, he refuses claiming that his place is on the front lines. He's also one of the first Lemurians to adopt Catholicism.
Hoo boy. You've got World War I- and II-era tech with the destroyers and a Japanese battle-cruiser, eighteenth-century tech with the Grik's ships, and roughly Bronze Age (Leavened with some Iron) tech with the Lemurians...who the Americans train to fight in a Roman shield wall. Supported by bronze cannons. And this is just the first two books...
The Empire and Dominion have roughly Civil War-era tech: wooden ships powered by sail and coal-fired steam.
The ultimate expression is the conversion of the carrier-sized wooden Home ships (sail-powered) of the Lemurians into actual steam-powered carriers for their new planes.
The Grik respond (with Japanese help) by adding iron cannons to their ships, as well as use field artillery to support their mindless horde. Shortly after, they unveil their zeppelin bombers and ironclad warships based on early American (CSS Virginia) and French-built (Kotetsu) ironclads.
Those zeppelin bombers later sport anti-air defenses and drop glider bombs piloted by kamikaze Grik.
Used in universe - the human characters are stuck with a mid-20th century understanding of dinosaurs and evolution whilst interacting with dinosaurs and lemurs written with an early-21st century understanding of dinosaurs.
One of the more subtle examples is the fact that the Grik have feathers, despite being lizards. We now know that velociraptors, from whom the Grik are likely descended, had feathers and may have been the ancestors to modern birds. Bradford also keeps insisting that Grik are birds and not lizards based on their internal structure (e.g. hollow bones).
Society Marches On: In-universe, where characters display their 1940s views on racism and religion. One character in particular, Sister Audrey, a Catholic nun, especially looks down upon Courtney Bradford for being an "evolutionist", especially when he reveals that he's also Catholic (in her mind, the two are incompatible). Whereas nowadays the Catholic Church accepts "theistic evolution" (the idea that Christianity and the Theory of Evolution are compatible), this was not the case in 1940s, when the Church had no official position on the issue.
Sociopathic Hero: Silva - my god, Silva. If no other passage seals it, one paragraph in Into the Storm defines the entire character of Dennis Silva, and is possibly the most clear cut example ever of the entire trope of a Heroic Sociopath.
He'd killed a lot in his life, before the War even started. Bar fights and back alleys in China, mostly - although there'd been that pool shark down in Mobile too. Most had it coming, by his definition, though he might have been hasty a time or two. The Japs had it coming, and he guessed he'd killed some of them with his number one gun. But that was a team sport. He'd never killed anybody because he was "good" and they were "bad". They'd just been "badder" than he was. And sometimes Dennis Silva could be a bad man. But now he felt good because the creatures he killed were indisputably bad. [...] He felt like the big mean dragon in the story that everyone was scared of, who swooped down and ate the evil king. Sometimes it felt good to be "good".
If that's not enough for you, originally Silva described himself as having only four moods (happy, hungry, horny, and mad, albeit this changes over time somewhat), considers war to be the best fun he's ever had, and by the time of Firestorm has been described (by Sandra no less) as being valuable to the fleet specifically because when put in a bad situation he will take the utmost pragmatic and effective course with no regard for morals or ethics.
As expected, the Grik speak in this manner. It's not clear if their cousins the Tagranesi do the same.
A Tagrenesi named Lawrence speaks English fairly well, except for his inability to form any sounds requiring lips.
Space-Filling Empire: The Grik Empire controls at least (the exact extent is unknown) India, southern Pakistan, Sri Lanka, the Persian Gulf and most of the eastern coast of Africa. Meanwhile, the Dominion controls Mexico, Central America and South America from what's Colombia in our world down to the northern half of Chile. The Alliance is heading in this direction, controlling the Philippines, parts of Indonesia and Australia, and most recently, Japan and the Hawaiian Islands (voluntarily) and Sri Lanka (by conquest).
It now looks like North America has at least two more countries, one of which pushed the Dominion out of Mexico for a time and their rivals on their other border; plus there's another mystery faction with radio that may side with the Grik.
And one led by some Czechen guy that's north of Grik-controlled India.
Storming the Castle: The Celestial Mother's palace is stormed by a small group during the invasion of the so-called "Grik City" on Madagascar, while a battle rages on outside.
The crew of two US naval destroyers just happens to have some engineers who have worked in oil fields so that they can drill new oil wells for fuel. Other experts are in abundance (pilots that can design planes), to the point that know-how isn't usually a problem, just materials and facilities. Only once or twice does someone mention they don't actually know how to make something they need, but it's sort of shrugged off with "We'll figure something out."
Justifiable for several reasons. In the 1930's, people tended to have a broader (if less advanced) knowledge of their respective fields. As well, it is worth noting that the misfits of the Navy (aka the most ingenious, if least conventional) are the ones assigned to the Asiatic Fleet. Further amplified by the fact there have been logical reasons set forth early on as to WHY they can make the advances that they do, instead of relying on Only the Author Can Save Them Now.
One invention in particular is made by the Lemurians based on Captain Reddy's former fascination with ancient naval combat. When boarding a Grik ship, he has the Lemurians build him a corvus, a boarding bridge of Roman design that embeds itself in the other ship's deck, allowing boarders to cross. Unfortunately, the Lemurians build it out of bamboo, and it collapses under the weight. Of course, Reddy forgets that the corvus is not only unusable but dangerous to both ships in rough seas. That's why the Romans stopped using them.
By Storm Surge, though, it's stated that all major improvements are being done by Lemurians with humans just shaking their heads in a "why haven't we thought about it?" way. The Lemurians just needed a push in the right direction to get things started.
In Deadly Shores, the Lemurians finish building two Walker-type destroyers using steel salvaged from the Amagi, and there are idea being put forward for building ‘‘Farragut’’-class destroyers next.
War Is Hell: So far the total of deaths is approaching 300,000.
The total losses incurred by the Lemurians are implied to be around 20,000 to 25,000 by the end of Firestorm (not countign civilian casualties before the war officially started), and the Grik Sustaining NO FEWER than 300,000 losses.
Weapon of Mass Destruction: In Storm Surge, Chairman Adar commissions the secret development of two methods of killing hordes of Grik without a lot of Alliance casualties. One is mustard gas. Captain Reddy vehemently opposes using the gas. Not because it's immoral to kill Grik that way but because the Grik (thanks to their Japanese allies) are liable to start lobbing gas shells of their own, and the furry Lemurians would not be able to make gas masks with a tight enough seal to protect themselves. Reddy is reminded that, if Kurokawa makes mustard gas first, he will use it without hesitation, as he couldn't care less about his Grik underlings. The other is much more heinous and threatens to make the Eurasian and African continents on this world completely uninhabitable if it goes out of control. Specifically, they have weaponized the kudzu-like parasite plant found on Yap island. Courtney Bradford especially protests against the latter, as it is bound to completely destroy ecologies unprepared for the plant.
Played with all over the place. In the first book's climax, Reddy finds Lemurian skulls hung up as decorations in a Grik ship, he's outraged and remarks to himself that Lemurians are people and should not be treated like trophy animals. But it's only when he sees a human skull among them that he descends into Tranquil Fury and makes the decision to Kill 'em All. He later realizes the hypocrisy of this reaction in the second book. However, he has no issues with exterminating the Grik. It helps that most of them are little more than mindless beasts with only one thing on their mind: the hunt. They don't know when or how to stop. It's the Hij, the Grik who are old enough to gain a form of intelligence, who consciously direct the others to exterminate this and that species. They particularly want to kill the Lemurians is because the Lemurians are the only ones to ever escape.
The fourth book has Billingsly who views Lemurians as a "lesser species" of "ape-men" and orders the captain of the Ajax to destroy two Lemurian ships because they dared to speak to him, moreso because it was a female Lemurian.
Wooden Ships and Iron Men: The Empire and Dominion are on their way out of the Age of Sail; their ships are steam/sail hybrids.
At the same time, the Dominion still relies heavily on sail-powered "liners", large galleons with many cannons.
Worthless Yellow Rocks: Most Lemurian societies live on a barter system. Gold is treated as a pretty but useless trinket, until the destroyermen convince them to create a more stable economic system and use gold as the standard.
Even then some things are treated as more valuable than gold. When Silva and Moe (an old Lemurian hunter) find a downed Japanese bomber, Moe rejoices, claiming that he'll be the richest Lemurian ever from all the aluminum that makes up the plane. This is justified, though, as aluminum is desperately needed to make better planes.
Worthy Opponent: Truelove sees Silva as this. His last words when he realizes how Silva has killed him? "Bravo!"
Would Hurt a Child: The Grik happily kill and eat their young, at least those who are perceived as "prey" (i.e. those who don't exhibit Attack! Attack! Attack! qualities). When attacking Ceylon, the Grand Alliance quickly learns that the Grik young are feral beasts who can be just as dangerous as their adult versions. It's not long before all Grik young are shot on sight.
Zeppelins from Another World: The Grik answer to The Alliance's air force, seeing as how it would be near impossible to build a cockpit that could comfortably seat a Grik or even teach one to pilot a plane.
Justified in that most of the Grik are little more than mindless beasts. Good luck teaching them to fight in formation. The Hij, the older Grik who are in charge, don't mind sending countless of their younger kin to die.
In fact, a few Grik are taught to move and stand in formation and fire muskets. However, this is now all they do. They don't even bother to defend themselves when attacked up close.
Later, this is changing, to the horror of the humans and the Lemurians. The "new" Grik are more tactical and no longer experience the so-called "Grik routs". However, the majority are still the same mindless horde.