02 August 2012

Book review: With the Lightnings

With the Lightnings by David Drake

This is the first installment in the Republic of Cinnabar Navy series, which are essentially Master and Commander in space, and with 98% less early 19th-century naval jargon.

Lt. Daniel Leary is sent to accompany a diplomatic mission to Kostroma, which is a sort-of-neutral player in the game between Cinnabar and the Alliance. He meets Adele Mundy, a librarian-spy with a traumatic past.

There are diplomatic double- and triple-crosses, and Lt. Leary and his misfit band, including Adele, save the day.

Parts of it were kind of frustrating, like Leary's attitude toward, well, everyone who wasn't from Cinnabar or the navy, and his casual sexism. At the same time, these attitudes are very much like the ones Jack Aubrey displays in O'Brien's work, and because the RCN series is based on those, it makes sense.

Overall, it was an enjoyable read, full of diplomatic intrigue and space battles, snarky humor, and great characters.

The first three books are available in the Baen free library. The first six are available free here, along with a few other works by Drake.


DFS said...

The gimmick with Jack Aubrey specifically is that he's very good at being the captain of a fighting ship and very bad at everything else. His lack of social graces is kind of rolled up into that. Leary is a little different -- he has the more general problems of an inexperienced young man who's been raised into the privileges of an aristocratic society. But generally the point stands. He has these issues because part of the story is about how he grows out of them a bit.

The interesting thing about Leary is that he is very much not a kind of hero that Drake's known for writing. Adele is the one who has the dubious honor of being the David Drake Character (and you see why I used to say that Shinn Asuka from Gundam Seed was a Drake hero down to the ground).

CD Covington said...

I like Adele. I don't want to be her, mind, but she's very interesting. Elite librarian-hacker-spy! Who's super competent!