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  • Though Hell Should Bar the Way

  • RCN Series, Book 12
  • By: David Drake
  • Narrated by: Victor Bevine
  • Length: 12 hrs and 23 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 6
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6

Roy Olfetrie planned to be an officer in the Republic of Cinnabar Navy, but when his father was unmasked as a white-collar criminal he had to take whatever he was offered. What is offered turns out to be a chance to accompany Captain Daniel Leary and Lady Adele Mundy as they go off to start a war that will put Roy at the sharp end.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • THE Great RCN series from a new perspective

  • By AR Hume on 19-05-18

An Oblique Approach

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 19-04-18

Daniel Leary and Adele Mundy are back, for the twelfth book in the RCN series! Except, well, David Drake has taken what he might call "an oblique approach" this time, and our two main characters are very much on the sidelines. Sure, they have a mission - but we have a new character centre stage, and he narrates the story - his story. At first this works well, as Roy Olfetrie encounters Daniel, and joins his crew (helped along by him being a cousin of Daniel's wife), so we see characters from a new perspective... but a few chapters in, he gets shanghai'd, captured by pirates, and sold on a far-away planet which has a touch of the Arabian Nights about it, with harems, slaves, eunuchs... He wants to escape, but he sees, via closed-circuit surveillance, a girl who was also abducted and sold to the harem...

Personally, while this section of the book was pretty well done, I did end up feeling that it was going on too long - I wanted to get back to what Daniel and Adele were involved in, not have another twist and turn in the escape, and the voyage in a not very well-maintained pirate ship. We did get back there eventually, to find, in a rather large coincidence, that the girl was important to the mission, and got back on track, with some suitably dramatic action on the planet and in space.

It looks as if Roy won't be a permanent member of Daniel Leary's team, as he ends up with a new role, which could well be classed as a happy ending. Let us hope for further RCN novels that get back on the main track. We could even go over the same mission again, but from the normal perspective! If you've not tried David Drake's RCN series before, it would probably be best to begin at the start rather than here, but it's still an entertaining adventure on its own.

  • Starhawk

  • By: Jack McDevitt
  • Narrated by: Tavia Gilbert
  • Length: 11 hrs and 56 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 19
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 18
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 18

Interstellar pilot Priscilla 'Hutch' Hutchins has seen a lot of action. But now, multi award-winning science-fiction master Jack McDevitt gives us the thrilling, edge-of-your-seat tale of how it all began... Hutch has finally realised her dream: she's completed a nerve-bending qualification flight for a pilot's licence.Her timing is far from optimal, however. Faster-than-light travel has only recently become a reality and the World Space Authority is still learning how to manage long-range missions safely.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A Low-Key Prequel

  • By Custer on 20-11-17

A Low-Key Prequel

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 20-11-17

This is a "prequel" to Jack McDevitt's "Academy" series, featuring Priscilla "Hutch" Hutchins, which does limit it slightly. She is only just qualifying to pilot a starship, under the mentorship of Jake, a Starsky to her Hutch - maybe. There are rumblings of things that will be covered in later books, but almost everything is pretty low-key here. We see things from Jake's point of view too, and he has his own chapters when they go their separate ways.

The book reminds me of a contemporary novel that just happens to be set almost two centuries in the future. A few alien worlds have been discovered, and there is a protest movement on Earth about the way terraforming may kill off alien creatures when it increases the oxygen content of the atmosphere... which leads to bombs on ships, and perhaps worse. And an orphan planet, drifting through space icy and alone, seems to have some sort of intelligence. We get 55 chapters, many ending with brief news items of the time. Our narrator Tavia Gilbert's slightly apologetic tones work quite well... but, while it's an interesting listen, it's no thrill-a-minute adventure.