Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Sea Without a Shore (Lt. Leary, #10)The Sea Without a Shore by David Drake
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I do love David Drake and I do love this series, though it's hard to explain why sometimes. Short take for fans: this is one of the better ones. If you haven't read them, do start with the first. Drake is a veteran and a historian and his military SF involves his own experiences and certain historical situations, reframed and recast in different universes. See Redliners, a military masterpiece, if you want to know what war is really like.

Daniel Leary is a Naval officer whose father is a political bigwig; they are estranged. Daniel is privileged and handsome and lucky--all good qualities in an officer.  He is also arrogant and prejudiced, a perfect caricature of British aristocracy at the height of Empire--this is why I downgrade the books that have a lot of leave time in them, because Daniel on the family estate in Bantry is a rich redneck. I read the books despite this--because I like his sidekick, sociopathic super-librarian Adele Mundy, whose entire family was massacred by Daniel's father. Adele's hobby is figuring out and mimicking human behavior--and she's inspired her sidekick, the psychopath Tovera.

In this episode, I believe Daniel works out a relatively quick solution to avert a longterm war and the involvement of opposing governmental superpowers. There's always the balance of civilians, citizens, politicians, bureaucrats, criminals, the military, spies--terrain, logistics, intel--practicalities vs. theories. There's even a bit of the spiritual in this foray. Drake is always interesting.

Why does Drake keep writing these, and why do we keep reading? It's the character development. The caricature of the British Empire and its lords is becoming a realized universe; Daniel Leary is young and he is maturing; Adele is learning to blend in. There's action, some introspection, some humor, some politics. It's a great way to spend an afternoon, whiling away the hours in another universe, learning about the human creature...

The first book is called With the Lightnings. Enjoy!
(Baen and netgalley provided an e-galley for review purposes.)

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