What Distant Deeps Mass Market Paperback – May 31 2011
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About the Author
David Drake was attending Duke University Law School when he was drafted. He served the next two years in the Army, spending 1970 as an enlisted interrogator with the 11th armored Cavalry in Viet Nam and Cambodia. Upon return he completed his law degree at Duke and was for eight years Assistant Town Attorney for Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He has been a full-time freelance writer since 1981. His books include the genre-defining and bestselling Hammer’s Slammers series, the RCN series including In the Stormy Red Sky, The Way to Glory, and many more.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
A pro - I do like the way Drake takes historical, largely classical historical, events and places and uses them as the basis for a plot. In this case Palmyra, which was a desert principality located between Rome and Parthia that was more or less aligned with Rome.
All in all, if you've enjoyed the other books in the series, you should enjoy this one. If you haven't read any of the other books in the series, I'd more or less recommend not starting with this one as it does assume a little background knowledge.
Daniel Leary doesn't have to worry about half pay. One of the navy's most successful young officers, he's flush with prize money. Still, a charter to take an envoy to a distant planet is an attractive offer, especially as Leary's communications officer (who's also a spy with Cinnabar intelligence) has work there as well. What Leary finds, however, is that a Cinnabar ally has ambitions in the area that just may break the peace and launch Cinnabar and the Alliance into a new war that neither of them wants. Even allying with the local Alliance navy, however, doesn't give Leary nearly the naval might needed to confront the ambitious Palmyrens.
Author David Drake continues his Daniel Leary series with another enjoyable story. The relationship between Leary and his comm officer, Adele Mundy, continues to develop, but with neither admitting that anything close to sexual attraction exists. Drake does an excellent job both with political intrigue and with intense naval battles.
Maybe it's just me, but I found I was hit over the head with Adele's otherness. We know she's a bit of a sociopath, but I'd like to see this expressed in different ways, not by her repeatedly wondering whether her 'contentedness' equates ot other people's 'happiness.' And spare me another of Adele's smiles. This seems to be the only expression she has... I was particularly amused by a mention that she rarely smiled. Uh, read over the text, Drake. I also expected Drake to do more with the alien dragon race found on the planet Zenobia. Shouldn't evidence of other races traveling between stars have been a huge deal? Instead, it was mentioned, then forgotten.
Overall, WHAT DISTANT DEEPS is an enjoyable read. Fans of this series will certainly want to add it to their reading list.
Our two heros, Daniel the super combat naval officer shiphandler, and Adele the super hacker and info librarian and pistol shooter, are sort of out on the beach after the recent war turned into peace.
They are sent on a trip to deliver a new commissioner to a world on the border, through Adele's contacts, by means of Daniel's private corvette (he is from a rich powerful family, and got much richer because of prize captures).
The first half of the book drags. There are some class based scenes that explore the social structure of the setting more, something that goes into each book so far. However, most of the first half seems to be a way for the two heros to be dicks.
Daniel, in past books, had as his faults seducing and leaving women quickly, and overindulging. Drake seems to have dropped the overdoing it and made Daniel a one woman man (with the woman off screen this book)--and instead brought in a stiff necked hatred of former enlisted men serving as officers. It is not a good change up, and drives Daniel downward in my eyes. It is odd that this trend just seemed to have jumped out of nowhere. In past books Daniel had issues with former Land Forces NCOs who are not good officers in third world services, but he just jerks out here for no good reason. Daniel is still the super ship handler who does the greatest things to win great victory, though.
Adele is just as messed up in the head as ever because of the deaths of her family many years before, and her great skill--which she uses a lot--at killing by means of her pistol. Here in this book, though, Drake started telling us about her issues instead of showing. Also, she seems to have gotten the same 'I hate the lower classes' illness as Daniel. There is a scene where low status intel staffers on a nearby planet try to brief her into something being wrong, and she is so busy being socially chilled towards them she doesn't do anything. The character who loves info so much she steals data invoices for buildings and organizes how many people are living there based off the comsumption rate--just lets it go? Really? Nice work, Drake.
Also, Daniel's big love (other than loose women, food, and booze) has always been natural history. Drake drops him in the middle of a complete natural history puzzle, that may involve an alien race with super powers that existed thousands of year ago--and Daniel yawns and trashes the site. Really?
The rest of the book is still so good that I left it at three stars, but these are big cracks.
Although, in a broad sense, Drake makes an attempt to develop and mature his two leading characters over the arc of the last 7 RCN books, little of that is apparent here except in the negative. Leary, the responsible, womanizing, charismatic young officer, has through his long-term relationship with Dorst turned into... a charismatic, responsible young officer, minus the womanizing. It may be natural for him to grow older but it's somewhat less interesting as well. Mundy continues to be, well, Mundy- sometimes, it's hard to tell if she is slowly becoming more accepting and connected to other people, through her friendship with Leary and almost sometimes maternal relationship to Cory, Cazelet, and Tovera. Or, if she is headed towards complete meltdown via a suicidal addiction to dangerous combat actions (which seems to be the opinion of her intelligence agency mentor). To compound this lack of character development, several minor plot points, such as the possible pre-human settlement, are introduced, briefly expounded on... and then lost. The "plot twist" (that might be an Extremely Obvious segue into the next novel) comes literally out of nowhere right at the very-very end of the book, and is simply delivered straight as an "Ok you RCN types are honorable so here is this thing I heard" deal. Maybe I should have seen it coming, but then again, Mundy didn't see it either.
Like many of the other RCN books, 'What Distant Deeps" is calling to me to reread, slower, when I have more time to pick out as much of the detail rather than get to the next chapter for the immediate pleasure of What Blows Up Next. I have a feeling it will be better on a second reading at the cost of a small lack of excitement the first time through.
The inevitable comment on Drake's books is the use of history as a basis for the story. Yeah, yeah, yeah ... He just writes interesting stories. Stories I look forward to reading. Keep up the good work.