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    Baen, July 2000

    Lieutanant Daniel Leary is yesterday's hero. Now he, along with his Signals Officer Adele Mundy and his crew have got to prove themselves all over again. Easy enough, except he's been assigned a boring job conveying home the heir to a subject planet's presidency, joined to a task force that hasn't seen action in decades, and graced with a commanding officer who takes an instant dislike to him.

    Leary takes the assignment in stride shifting from chasing beautiful women to chasing the currents of the matrix that allow ships to travel faster than light. The job seems easy enough, but an early assasination attempt and a marooning make it clear that Leary will have to step up a level if he wants to survive, let alone stay a hero.

    David Drake (see more reviews of novels by this author) specializes in writing military science fiction and doesn't disappoint with this novel. Leary is a likable character highly reminiscent of O'Brian's Captain Aubrey. While not an intellectual heavyweight, Leary has a feel for the ship, for military tactics, and for his men who adore him. Adele fills the intellectual role, more at home with her computer than with the people around her. Drake handles the sexual tension between these two central characters with a delicate touch. Neither admits that the admiration they feel toward one another is anything but professional.

    Drake propells Leary from personal danger, through the shouls of professional disaster, to a tactical alliance with a pirate kingdom, toward the final climactic battle that puts all of Leary's tactical skills and all of Adele's hacking to the test. Pitted against a vastly superior foe, they must somehow survive and do enough damage to prevent an enemy conquest of a friendly system. Worse, there are no convenient new inventions just waiting for deployment (a weakness in many other science fiction military novels). Leary and Adele must manage with their ship's normal complement of weapons and the savvy and trust they've built in their team.

    Four Stars

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