Review of SOME GOLDEN HARBOR by David Drake (see his website)
LIEUTENANT LEARY #5
Baen, September 2006
With the admiral who favored him retired, Commander Daniel Leary can no longer expect plum assignments. Being sent to the back end of nowhere to support some Cinnabar commercial interests would be bad enough if they at least gave him a couple of naval ships. But sending him in his own private spaceship seems doomed to result in nothing but disaster. Fortunately for Leary, he's used to being set up for failure. Even more fortunately, his signals officer, Adele Mundy at his side, his ship is the retired but renovated Princess Cecile, and he's able to break most of his old crew (the Sissies) out of the hulk where they, along with other Cinnabar sailors, are being held between assignments.
Cinnabar really has no essential national interests at stake, but Leary doesn't like failure. He's been tasked to end the invasion of Dunbar's World and he intends to do it. Unfortunately, there's a Pellegrino cruiser supporting the invasion force and the Princess Cecile wash shipped with no missiles. On the ground, things are not much better. The Pellegrino mercenary army has bogged down, but opposition is fragmented and breaking down. Even a helpful army from yet another world is available, but sending a few thousand men into the meat-grinder of battle hardly seems likely to change the course of the war.
Author David Drake (see more BooksForABuck.com reviews of novels by Drake) continues his RCN series with another space-bound adventure modeled on the Napoleonic naval genre of novels. Like C. S. Forester's BEAT TO QUARTERS, which may have served as partial inspiration for this book, Drake sets his adventures outside of the main battle (in his case, between Cinnabar and the Alliance), where the results matter to those killed but not really to anyone else.
The fun of this series comes from the space action and from the interaction between the characters of Daniel and Adele. In SOME GOLDEN HARBOR, compared to others in the series, both the action and the interaction seems muted. Drake seemed to find a need to over-explain Adele's relationship with her servant, Tovera, and Tovera's possible relationship with a reptile-alien seems to have expanded beyond its importance to the plot or its interest to me as a reader. I definitely got tired of Tovera giggling. Similarly, I don't really have a problem with Adele and Leary being unconcerned with the morality of their actions. But couldn't someone care whether they were doing the right thing--even if that someone was ultimately ignored?
I've enjoyed the Leary/Mundy series up until now, and SOME GOLDEN HARBOR is certainly readable--not a bad book, really--but it isn't up to the standards of this series.
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