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The Far Side Of The Stars by David Drake

01/04/2005. Contributed by Paul Hanley

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pub: Baen Publishing. 514 page paperback. Price: 6.99 (US). ISBN: 0-7434-8864-4.

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This is, I think, the third book in a series regarding the RCN (Republic of Cinnibar Navy). So far as I can recall, I have not read the earlier books. Whilst there were some references to events which clearly had been related in those earlier books I do not think that would detract from a reader's enjoyment of this book on its own.

This is a book for those who like military Science Fiction. The hero and heroine are former shipmates in the space navy of the Cinnibar Republic. Lt Leary is a hero and the commander of a warship about to be decommissioned because the war with the Alliance of Free Stars has ended. Adele Mundy was a Warrant Officer on his ship. She is from a disgraced family and her parents were executed for their part in the anti-government conspiracy. Because Leary's father is the ruler of the Republic his family have helped her recover some of her family estates. She is, however, under something of an obligation to the state and can and is pressured to spy on their behalf.

David Drake succeeds in creating a rich backdrop against which his characters and their story develops. This is a world of privilege and patronage. The sort of world Admiral Nelson or the fictional Hornblower would have known. There are nobles with all their petty jealousies and pretensions, as well as downtrodden peasants and matelots. In reality, it would be a rather nasty state to live under, although we readers would doubtless imagine we would be the nobles rather than footmen so that would be OK. Great fun to read.

As the navy is winding down Leary's ship, the Princess Cecile, is to be sold. She is to be bought by a rich foreign noble couple who wish to use her as an armed private yacht to explore the distant Galatic North.

Adele Mundy is persuaded by the state security apparatus to sign on for the voyage as they wish to establish whether rumours that the still hostile AFS regime is establishing a fleet base on the moon circling the capital planet are true. The Galatic North is a loose ill-run federation but it has always been friendly towards the Republic of Cinnibar and the Republic's intelligence services do not want that to change. A complication is that a former RCN battleship, whose officers were members of the same conspiracy that Adele's parents were executed for, fled there and now helps a regional governor maintain a de facto independence from the central government.

This is a great adventure story. Lots happen but our resourceful duo and the rest of the crew are able to outfight and outfox all their opponents until they emerge triumphant with the enemy's plans utterly ruined. The story has lots of twists and turns, sub-plots and plenty of action.
If you like military SF you will enjoy this book. I shall now try and locate the earlier stories in the series and read them.

Paul Hanley

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