The first half to three-quarters is pretty amazing, as Eric Flint brings his chess-match-style story construction from previous shorter works in Weber...moreThe first half to three-quarters is pretty amazing, as Eric Flint brings his chess-match-style story construction from previous shorter works in Weber's Honorverse ("From The Highlands" and "The Fanatic") to a full-on cloak-and-dagger novel.
Unfortunately, he loses a bit of traction in the ending, at least for me. To begin with, the title becomes distressingly literal, which disappointed me. Also, after the midpoint action bit, Flint seems to get bored with the (admittedly large number of) extra characters he had been following, and moves many of them (the surviving ones, I mean) off the board with less than spectacular justification. Narrowing the focus of the story also didn't help in that something that was flowing naturally then feels like it is forced, with a ball peen hammer, into a (cockeyed) Cinderalla story, and that didn't sit well with this reader either.
It never gets bad, nor does it stop being entertaining, but the closing quarter or so feels extremely forced, whereas everything Flint had done in the Honorverse prior flowed extremely well without obvious authorial manipulation.(less)
When Bujold announced that she was working on "an Ivan book", you probably heard my squeals of delight echoing off the ionosphere.
Those squeals were f...moreWhen Bujold announced that she was working on "an Ivan book", you probably heard my squeals of delight echoing off the ionosphere.
Those squeals were fully and completely justified. Arguably Bujold's funniest book, fully satisfying, and makes me wish she would write another dozen Ivan adventures.
Also, equally happily, the latter part of the book, had it been written from a different point of view, could almost have been a Simon Illyan adventure. It isn't (quite), but he's prominent in the best way possible.(less)
The follow-up to "how to escape from a secret prison planet and save all the prisoners while you're at it", this installment in the Honor Harrington s...moreThe follow-up to "how to escape from a secret prison planet and save all the prisoners while you're at it", this installment in the Honor Harrington series didn't grip me nearly as much. It felt, frankly, like Weber had a checklist of things that needed to get done before the next book, and he went about ticking them off, rather than telling a unified story.
That said, the parts are mostly very good, even if they didn't sum up to much more than "man, I'm going to pull out ALL the stops next book". I particularly enjoyed the results of the long-term story in the People's Republic of Haven, and have been consistently wrong as to who is going to end up as the series' Napoleon figure.(less)
She's trapped on a prison planet, inescapable, one which won't support human life.
She's crippled, and has les...moreThe universe believes her dead, executed.
She's trapped on a prison planet, inescapable, one which won't support human life.
She's crippled, and has less than twenty people with her.
In other words, Honor Harrington is about to kick ass, take names, and make history. Again.
This one didn't play out the way I expected it to. In the first half, the narrative is split between Honor's struggles and how her memory inspires the people who think her dead. The way I figured it, the two separate threads would converge before the finale. I was wrong, but I'm not unsatisfied with the result.
Much, much, MUCH better than the angst-ridden garbage in the (first half of) the previous book in the series.(less)
The first half of this is AWFUL. Dreadfully, painfully bad. Middle-school romantic angst among middle-aged military folk? Thank you, no.
But then the adventure plot kicks in (after 200-ish pages of dreck), and that part of the story is very, very good. Honor Harrington gets captured by the France-during-the-Terror analog, and the bulk of the action happens around her, as she's sequestered due to being a high-value political prisoner. Even with her out of the action, the action is good fun, and ends on a promise that the next book may even be better than the good part of this one.
But that first half is a painful, painful slog.(less)
I had a bit of trouble focusing on this one, but that's likely my fault, and not David Drake's.
The plot is more complex and intricate than previous en...moreI had a bit of trouble focusing on this one, but that's likely my fault, and not David Drake's.
The plot is more complex and intricate than previous entries in the series, but there seemed to be less character development than before, and while the plot mechanics got into motion, there was one aspect of it that was barely touched upon -- which may have been Drake's intent, but I found somewhat frustrating. I was hoping that the invaders' side would be explored to some extent (read too many of Poul Anderson's Flandry stories, I guess), and it wasn't really.
Even so, Another solid entry in a thoroughly enjoyable series.(less)
Lt. Daniel Leary, based on his adventures in "With the Lightnings", finds himself in command of a corvette with a loyal and hyper-competent crew, and...moreLt. Daniel Leary, based on his adventures in "With the Lightnings", finds himself in command of a corvette with a loyal and hyper-competent crew, and a mission to deliver a political exile back to his home planet. Or so it would seem.
More space opera goodness, with a good bit more planet-hopping and space-battling than the first go-round, and it ends up being just about as satisfying as the first book.
The opening quarter or so of the book felt bloated to me, with Drake giving in to the temptation to catalog things rather than just give the essential, evocative detail. Some of this may be due to the nature of the story -- neither Leary nor Adele Mundy have the slightest clue what is going on for a large chunk of the book and, therefore, neither does the reader. Until about halfway through, it's clear that something's not right, but you only begin being able to put together just what in the latter half of the book. (You may view it as either blessing or curse, but Drake does not drop long explanations on his reader, expecting that the reader should be able to put pieces together himself in the end.) Even taking that into consideration, I felt the opening was slow, and not as fun as the first book (or as the later stages of this one).
That said, this was still a very enjoyable read, and I'm probably going to jump into the next one before other, more important things which I likely ought to read first.(less)
Try to imagine an H.P. Lovecraft story written by a classical liberal gun nut, and you've got the gist of it. Plus, th...moreEnormously fun, gleefully pulpy.
Try to imagine an H.P. Lovecraft story written by a classical liberal gun nut, and you've got the gist of it. Plus, the author has a bit of fun tweaking your expectations. The scene with the elves is just about worth the price of admission on its own.(less)
The third book in Drake's highly enjoyable space opera series continues his tradition of transposing 18th century British naval situations into space....moreThe third book in Drake's highly enjoyable space opera series continues his tradition of transposing 18th century British naval situations into space. This time out, Daniel Leary's former command, the corvette "Princess Cecile", is decommissioned and sold to a wealthy foreign noble intent on exploring the "Galactic North", where piracy abounds, as well as uncivilized planets that still haven't recovered from the Hiatus in interstellar travel. Leary is hired to captain the ship, and he hires all the "Sissy"'s former naval crew to run her. Off they set into high space, bound for adventure.
It has been a long time since I read a pure picaresque space adventure. When I was quite young, I devoured such stories in very short sittings, drunk on the infinite possibilities to be found in the universe. Coming to one from a more experienced and informed perspective, I mostly saw the limitations that Drake's story set upon the possibilities. And didn't mind them, either, since Drake is a sterling storyteller.
There was none of the initial bloat that I felt unbalanced the second book, the story clips right along, from planet to planet, with plenty of action along the way, and in particular a thumping good climactic battle. I very much like the future history Drake has created for this series, and the possibilities it leaves open for further adventures and exploration. I hope, at some future point, that he has a more cerebral adventure in the series, one where Adele Mundy's pursuit of some historical nugget of information (most likely a book) drives the story, more than military tactical advantage. There's always a bit of that, but I'd find it fun to have the battle stuff be incidental background music for once, rather than front and center every time.
All in all, thoroughly fun and quite a satisfying read.(less)
Completely enjoyable first installment in Drake's space-opera take on Patrick O'Brien's Aubrey-Maturin series.
The combination of jaunty high adventur...moreCompletely enjoyable first installment in Drake's space-opera take on Patrick O'Brien's Aubrey-Maturin series.
The combination of jaunty high adventure with Drake's usual unblinking presentation of brutality works much better for me than his usual straight military SF. The moments of amusement and fun are a good respite from the bleak results of violence.
Drake also makes the very interesting decision to make one of the viewpoint characters a sociopath who knows, more or less, what she is, and tries very hard not to be. I look forward to what he does with the character in the later installments of the series.(less)