RogerBW's Blog

When the Tide Rises, David Drake 04 October 2022

2008 military SF, sixth of this ongoing series. Another small war, another planet.

Well, yes. We know going in what's going to happen in broad outline, because it's what usually happens: Leary and Mundy are sent to a trouble spot to turn a bad situation for the Republic into a good one. This time there's system A that's under siege, and nearby system B that's having a conflict with the enemy Alliance that's so low-intensity it's practically non-existent, but talking it up is good politics for them. So Leary gets sent to B and brews up the small war into a big one, attacking isolated posts and taking prizes so that the Alliance will have to shift forces to retaliate. (Against the locals who were having that low-intensity conflict, but they're only allies of the Republic so that's all right.) This is Drake, so Realpolitik predominates, but this one's a bit less cheery space action and a bit more focused on the toll in death and injury.

It helps that Mundy, the Maturin-like outsider in this pairing, got involved in some intense combat in the previous book and is still working through the trauma. But what I'm reading this series for, beyond more of the same space and ground action done well, is the gradual development of the people in it, not just the principals but the other sailors of Leary's crew. And that's done well here: some go through major problems physical or mental, others just get on with doing their jobs, some come to their limits, others exceed them, and if a newcomer is perhaps a bit too "Mundy, only in a different body so that she can be in two places at once" he may get more interesting with repeat appearances.

It's still fluff, but it's good fluff with something serious to say.

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Previous in series: Some Golden Harbor | Series: RCN | Next in series: In the Stormy Red Sky

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