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The ninth Leary and Mundy / RCN Adventure
on 19 April 2013
This space opera is the most recent of, to date, nine naval SF action stories featuring Daniel Leary, an officer in the space navy of the far future "Republic of Cinnabar" and his signals officer (and super spy) Adele Mundy.
Like David Weber's "Honor Harrington" series, though with very different execution of a similar idea, this series imagines a far future technology for space travel and space warfare which imposes tactical, logistical and strategic challenges for space navy officers similar to those which the technology of fighting sail imposed on the wet navy officers of Nelson's navy. In this case, including spaceships with sails.
And as the first 12 Honor Harrington novels are rather like a far future, gender reversed re-creation of C.S. Forester's Hornblower novels, Drake has confirmed that the "Leary" series was inspired by Patrick O'Brien's Aubrey and Maturin novels such as Master and Commander.
The Republic of Cinnabar Navy (RCN) in which the hero and heroine serve is evidently based on the Royal Navy of Nelson's era, while the state of Cinnabar which that navy protects is equally clearly based on the Roman Republic of about the first century B.C.
Cinnabar is in an almost constant state of cold or hot war with a rival star nation, the "Alliance of Free States" - this rivalry appears to borrow from those between Rome vs Carthage, Georgian Britain vs Napoleonic France, and the United States vs the USSR.
At the time "The Road of Danger" begins, Cinnabar and the Alliance are in a period of uneasy peace, which both powers wish to continue, if only because both are morally and financially exhausted after years of war.
Drake explains in an author's note at the start of the book that the historical events which inspired this book, took place after the Second Punic War at a time when there was a similar period of exhausted peace between Rome and Carthage. He refers to a little known story of a rebellion against Rome which was stirred up in Northern Italy by a man calling himself Hamilcar (not to be confused with Hannibal's father Hamilcar Barca: the name Hamilcar was common among Carthaginians.) Hamilcar claimed to be a Carthaginian, and the Roman Senate sent envoys to Carthage demanding that they remove this person under the terms of the peace treaty.
Carthage was in no position to reject the Roman demand, but implementing it must have been a tremendously difficult problem for whichever luckless Cathaginian officer was given the job of trying to find and remove Hamilcar.
This gave David Drake the inspiration for the next impossible mission to be given to Daniel Leary, Adele Mundy and the crew of the "Cissie" (the corvette Princess Cecile). They must find and remove a rebel leader calling himself "Freedom" who is allegedly stirring up revolt on the planet Sunbright before his actions lead to war.
It soon becomes apparent that "Freedom" is not the only person stirring the pot. Although neither the governments of Cinnabar or the Alliance want war, somebody does not share that view - and if Daniel and Adele fail to play their cards right, whoever is plotting to start the war off again may get their wish ...
The series to date consists of:
1) With The Lightnings
2) Lt. Leary, Commanding
3) The Far Side of the Stars (Lt. Leary)
4) The Way To Glory (RCN)
5) Some Golden Harbor (RCN)
6) When the Tide Rises (R.C.N. - Lt. Leary)
7) In the Stormy Red Sky
8) What Distant Deeps (RCN)
9) This book, "The Road of Danger."
The first few books in this series were collectively known as the "Lt. Leary" series, but as he was promoted to Commander at the conclusion of "The Way to Glory" and to Captain at the start of "In the Stormy Red Sky" the series is now more aptly known as the "RCN" series.
The plots or situations of all the books in this series are to some extent inspired by real events from various periods of history, and as he does here and I have described above, David Drake usually explains in an author's note where he took them from. He's not afraid to go back to the original sources looking for little-known stories which you won't get from the internet or textbooks.
The RCN stories are all clever, entertaining, and interesting and "The Road of Danger" is no exception.