SOME GOLDEN HARBOR Hardcover – Sep 1 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
In this rousing old-fashioned space opera, the latest to feature Cdr. Daniel O'Leary, Drake (Hammer's Slammers) explores how a charismatic leader can inspire a ship's crew to glorious feats beyond the call of duty. O'Leary, now on the outs with the command of the Royal Cinnabar Navy, finds himself trying to prevent the trading partner of an ally from falling under the influence of a puppet of the opposition Alliance with only a single decommissioned corvette that doesn't even carry missiles. Before he can leave orbit, O'Leary must first rescue his crew members from the bureaucratic limbo into which they have fallen. Drake, a Vietnam veteran with a gift for describing realistic combat and its aftermath, creates vivid characters you can care about. Patrick O'Brian and Bernard Cornwell fans as well as military SF readers will be well rewarded. (Sept.)
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"Updating dashing Horatio Hornblower tactics and vintage John Wayne heroics with...formidably battle hardened female NCOs, Drake gives... a full measure of appealing derring-do." - Publishers Weekly."See all Product Description
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Later, Signal Officer Adele Mundy made cutter 614 appear as a battleship and the Scheer surrendered to Admiral Milne's flotilla. Leary and a prize crew took the Scheer to Ritikin. There Leary was promoted to Commander by order of Admiral Anston, President of the Navy Board.
In this novel, Daniel has orders to go to Ganpat's Reach in an advisory role. Adele meets with Maurice Claverhouse in the Pleasaunce Style restaurant to obtain information about Dunbar's World. Adele is hoping that Claverhouse will have more current information on the situation than that available from Mistress Sand's organization.
Daniel visits the mother and sister of Midshipman Dorst. They already know of his death, but Daniel was his commanding officer and feels a duty to personally console the family. He also steers the family to his sister Deirdre to hasten distribution of Dorst's share of the prize money; Daniel's private deal with Deirdre will ensure that the Dorsts get immediate payment of the full amount.
Adele has expedited the use of the Princess Cecile to carry Daniel to Gunpat's Reach. Moreover, she has arranged for former Sissies to crew the ship. Their crew is being held in a hulk near Harbor 3.
Admiral Vocaine is now the Chief of the Navy Board, taking office after the retirement of Admiral Anston following a heart attack. Vocaine has instituted a new policy of detaining enlisted personnel between voyages, denying them port liberty. Both Daniel and Adele travel out to the place to collect the crew.
In this story, Lieutenant Vesey is acting captain of the Princess Cecile since Daniel is officially a passenger on this voyage. Besides, Daniel figures that the responsibilities will take her mind off the death of Midshipman Dorst. She has been very lost in her grief except when she has duties to perform.
Their first stop is Pellegrino, from which the invaders of Dunbar's World have come. Adele discovers that a disabled Cinnabar freighter has been waiting for parts for more than a month. Daniel decides to visit the captain of the freighter to get local news.
Adele visits the Cinnabar consular agent, who is also an agent for Mistress Sand. Hijaz Nordeen tells her the reason for the invasion. Chancellor Arruns has a son and heir -- Nataniel -- who is impatient in his wait for the chance at power. So Chancellor Arruns would prefer that Nataniel remain on Dunbar's World indefinitely.
Bennaria was the initial complainant to the Cinnabar Senate, for the invasion has disrupted their trade. Yet Daniel and Adele discover that Bennaria is not taking any steps on their own to oppose the invasion. Of course, they are quite willing to lend support to any Cinnabar effort, as long as it does not require their money or military.
This story tells of how Daniel accomplished his mission on Dunbar's World without any naval or military support other than the unarmed Princess Cecile and her well-armed crew. Daniel and Adele conduct covert operations on Bennaria to acquire what they need. Then they use these resources on Dunbar's World to get the Pellegrino troops off the planet.
Naturally, Daniel and Adele are resoundingly successful on Dunbar's World and confound their critics on Cinnabar. What else would you expect? Enjoy!
Highly recommended for Drake fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of naval and military maneuvers, intelligence gathering, and political intrigue.
-Arthur W. Jordin
The interesting thing about this book is that it is not really about Daniel Leary. He actually serves mainly as a narrator/observer to everyone else. The younger officers are learning how to become officers, Tovara is becoming more complex, Hogg is becoming more real, but Adele Mundy is remaining something of a whiner. The crew was mostly present in a cameo role, but the new non-RCN characters were more interesting than usual.
Unfortunately, the plot didn't have much color to it. No excursions to exotic caves or jungles or deserts, no spy intrigue, no chain-of-command conflicts, no meetings with pirate warlords, etc. What was there seemed like a fairly generic SF military novel. Drake spent some time telling us all the things that might go wrong with the battle plans because actually nothing really did go wrong -- the battles were all pretty much pro forma.
The series this is based on was 20 books long; a boxed set runs to 7000 pages. I don't know if Drake is going to keep chunking these out every time he finds some historical battle that fits the mold, but unless we start seeing some more character development from Leary and Mundy I expect the quality to just peter out over time.
Out of the 370 or so pages, perhaps 10% is real action - not what's expected from the series. The rest reminds me of an early text-only video game. Start at point A. Move to point B. Can't open door - it's locked. Return to point A and find magic key. Return to point B and use key. Oops - I forgot to grab the magic lint - can't cross threshold. Return to point A, get lint. Return to point B. Unock door again. Use lint. Can't look around - Darn - it's dark. Return to point A for a torch. Return to point B, fight ogre blocking door. Unock door. Use lint. Look around with torch. Can't. I forgot to grab the matches and light the torch. Return to point A, get matches. And on and on and on. I was getting ready to fall over I was spun around so much!
I'm not kidding. Leary was a pinball dizzily bouncing between two planets throughout the book. There was more "political action" - about as exciting as reading the minutes from a Senate session on Soybean Subsidies - then anything else.
The "tyrannical Alliance" was nothing of the sort. More a minor character that sent advisors and hired mercs. And really poor, unskilled mercs at that.
Tovera is becoming more humanized (at one point Drake seems to have confused Hogg with Tovera.) Adele is turning into a Schitzo. At this rate, we'll have a new character named Adelovera. Or we'll get a "Fight Club" hit, and find out that Tovera and Adele are the same person. The lines between the two are becoming too blurred.
The end, with a cross-dressing TV serenading the crews was a pretty pathetic and uninspired moment in the book, and one of the most bizarre events in the series. Picture this: You have commanded your crews through harrowing space battles, negotiated peace on two planets, and avoided a fight between hired killers/bodyguards.
Do they do to Disneyland? Nope. Get drunk and party like it's 9999? Nope. They watch a drag queen sing from on top of the ships hull.
The whole story seemed unpolished and rushed to print. Yes, the storyline was good - not great (as many of Drake's are) - but the execution was poorly done this time. Sure, Drake at his worst is better than many authors at their best, but this was not up to par. I'm sure if he would have read his final version a few weeks after putting it down, he would have said "What the hell?!?"
We left Leary promoted to Commander and about to take the prize Scheer home for repair - and find him no longer in great favor at the Admiralty, as his patron Admiral Anston has retired following a heart attack. However - Adele Mundy remains an agent of the Republic's Intelligence apparatus (headed by one Bernice Sand) and the pair of them (with the aid of a little creative data base alteration by Adele - bright girl she is) are off with Princess Cecile and the Sissies on a new adventure.
Those who see a resemblence to some of the O'Brian Aubry-Maturin novels (including a privately owned warship pressed into the use of the nation that employs the primary characters)are observing what Dave wants them to, by the way.
In any case - we see the usual combination of well-realized characters and blazing action against odds that the author has used for most of his writing career. Well worth acquiring a copy of this fine book, but I'd advise not making it your first encounter with Daniel Leary and Adele Mundy. It can stand alone, and you won't be sorry you read it, but there are nuances of character that will be more apparent if you have read the earlier tales in the series. And (like most of Dave's tales) it is solidly grounded in history. As he has said - if people did it that way once, why wouldn't they do similar things again? It does help to keep the stories grounded in reality, seems to me.
I'm a big fan of David Drake's, and of the RCN(Leary/Mundy) Series. Unfortunately, there is very little new here. There is nothing special about the planets that are visited, the action scenes are too little and too far apart, and when they do happen, they are nothing very different than what we have seen in past books in the series.
The regular characters exhibited no new behaviour, and frankly, Adele's "little smiles" are becoming a bit old. There was very little interesting about the new characters either - the alien Fallert (who seems to be interested in Tovera?) is about the only exception.
One thing I noticed is that the author made reference to use of VHF frequencies in this book - I like the way he uses actually frequency data... and after I'd complained about him using a 15Khz frequency for data in one book, and said 151.880Mhz(VHF) would have been more appropriate.
Another thing I've notice is that the level of violence in this series of books has declined - or maybe I'm getting so used to Drake's descriptions of killings, that I'm becoming immune to them... I'm also currently reading Cormac McCarthy's BLOOD MERIDIAN (1985), a Western set in the 1850's, where the descriptions of cruelty, violence, murder, and death are so frequent and graphic that it makes Drake's books look like walks in the park.