This is the fifth in a series by David Drake. While I’ve enjoyed Drake’s books before, this one is somewhat slower moving than the others. I have some gripes with the style, and with the editing, which was not very good.
First though, a minor gripe. On page 3 a character has gotten “a drink layered in liqueurs of differing colors.” Adele wonders how it is constructed. The secret, which Adele would have learned if she’d paid attention in chemistry class, is that each liqueur has a different specific gravity. By delicately pouring lighter liqueurs on top of heavier ones, it is possible to achieve some very pretty drinks. A drink of this type is called a pousse-cafe. The Wikipedia article gives one example, which sounds delicious. You can probably find recipes on the web or from Bols, if their liqueurs are still available.
Now on to the more serious gripes. Here are examples of sloppy editing. On page 156, we have “peevish intercom transmissions indicted their crews were still trying&hellip.” Surely the intercom “indicated.” On page 266, we get “the packed hold was working on her agoraphobia. It crushed the weight of so many people who weren’t moving&hellip.” The condition seems to be not fear of open spaces, agoraphobia, but fear of closed spaces, claustrophobia.
He also seems to have become enamored of the “‘d” contraction, and uses it when it is inappropriate. On page 179 we get, “The desktop was marble, somebody’d carved his initials on it with a knife and one corner’d been broken off. A door down the back hallway banged behind whoever’d been in the hall before the foreigners arrived.” on page 213 we get, “She’d been standing just outside the office; she’d to step aside quickly when Adele reemerged.” The first “she’d” is acceptable, but the second is not. It should be either “she had to” or “she’d had to” if the past perfect is used.
The story is largely satisfactory, but the book could have used more attention in the editing department.
I still have about a hundred pages to go. The next book will most likely be Old Soldiers by David Weber.