on 30 January 2008
David Drake seems to have hit his stride with the Leary/Mundy series. The blend of Heidelberg duelling school manners with classic Honor Harrington space opera (but without the, in my mind, tedious reams of technical detail)takes a little getting used to, but bears rewards. Credible characters in believable battles scenes and a well-paced narrative are common to all the books in the series, but they are difficult to read as stand alone stories - so, start at the beginning of the series and get reading!
on 10 April 2010
After giving 4 stars to the third novel I find myself torn between 4 stars and 0 stars for this offering.
By this fifth novel in the series, the endless concentration on the minute detail of the most mundane of character actions coupled with the constant repetition of biographical detail has moved from a minor distraction to a massive annoyance.
When a character is being set up initially the author gives details of their past history, helping to show how their personality developed in a cetain way and affects their future actions.
In these novels, not only does the author lay on the causal links betwen character development, past events and social status with a trowel but, constantly refers back to these events to underline every (and I really mean EVERY) action carried out by the main characters:-
Adele touches her pistol (which she does every 5th sentence) - paragraph to explain that she is a crack marksman due to being a highborn blah blah ........
Hogg shoots someone - (which he does every 10th paragraph) - paragraph to explain that he is crack shot because of being a poacher in his youth and .......
Daniel notices something - (which he does every 4th sentence) - paragraph to explain this is due to Hogg's teaching of poaching skills when he used to........
Adele uses her personal data console (which she does in almost every descriptive sentence about her) - paragraph to explain that this is because she is a Librarian and ......
Adele thinks about something. Anything. - paragraph to once again go in to the details of the Three Circles Conspiracy (and don't forget to mention a member of her family's head on a spike) ...
Member of the crew walks across a room without falling over - paragraph to explain that this is because they are spacers who are trained to walk and talk at the same time without falling on .........
Adele's servant walks into shot - paragraph to explain that she is a soulless killer.
So now take these examples plus another few dozen, jumble the order up and place one randomly every other paragraph over the entire book (and entire series of books) and you get some idea of how it goes.
And then there is the oft-repeated technical details of the workings of the stardrive, communications consoles, Impeller rifles, Plasma Cannon and every other nut and bolt used by RCN personnel. Aaaaaarrrrgggh!
I do like these stories, I really do! The storylines are great. The action is exciting but everything has become bogged-down in a damp morass of pointless detail.
This is what editors are for - please Mr Publisher, use them on this series!
(I'll probably still read the next one though.....)
PS As a further whinge - the number of times on every page the two main characters "break into a grin", "smile broadly", "break into a smile" etc. suggests that they are either on a permanent chemical high or are missing a chromosome each.